Home>Highlight>Joan Hassler, who beat dead candidate, dies at 81

Former Salem City Councilwoman Joan Mulford Hassler

Joan Hassler, who beat dead candidate, dies at 81

Won 1978 Salem City Council race against man who died three weeks before election

By David Wildstein, August 22 2019 9:50 am

Joan Mulford Hassler, who beat a dead man to become the first woman to serve on the Salem City Council, died on August 19.  She was 81.

Six-term Councilman Herbert Hopman died three weeks before the 1978 general election, and eight days after the deadline to replace him on the ballot.

Democrats, who had a 9-0 majority on the council, asked voters to re-elect Hopman so that they could fill the seat until a 1979 special election.

Hassler made an issue out of the Mayor Kenneth Lewis’ refusal to name Hopman’s replacement before the election, saying that voters should know who they would be getting if the vote for a deceased candidate.

Democrats asked voters to vote for Hopman in the City of Salem’s West Ward as a show of confidence for Lewis and the rest of the mean on the council.

Hassler won, 527 to 287, a 65%-35% margin, becoming the lone Republican and only woman on the council.

She was re-elected in 1981, but didn’t seek a third term in 1984 when her family decided to move to Lower Alloways Creek.

Hassler served as Republican Municipal Chair in both Salem and Lower Alloways Creek. She is a former Salem County Republican Vice Chair.

In 1986, she and Steve Dixon were the Republican candidates for Salem County Freeholder.  They lost to incumbents Clinton Ware and Benjamin Timberman.

Hassler is survived by her husband, Bill, her sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 1 PM on Sunday at the Salem Presbyterian Church.

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