Joseph P. Galluzzi, a former Irvington Council President who was once one of Essex County’s most influential political insiders, died on August 15. He was 88.
Galluzzi was elected to the Irvington Council in 1968 to represent the West Ward and was re-elected in 1972 and 1976. He served several years as council president and did not seek re-election in 1980.
In 1971, Galluzzi challenged Assembly Majority Leader Thomas H. Kean (R-Livingston) in the Republican primary in Essex County District 11-E.
Kean was the top vote-getter with 5,748 and his running mate, Assemblyman Philip D. Kaltenbacher (R-Short Hills) defeated Galluzzi by 4,071 votes.
After legislative redistricting in 1973, Irvington became part of the new 28th district that included South Orange and Newark’s West Ward. State Sen. Ralph DeRose (D-South Orange) was giving up his seat to run for governor.
Galluzzi became the Republican candidate for State Senate.
The Democratic nominee was Martin L. Greenberg (D-South Orange). Greenberg ran for Senate on the Essex organization line with DeRose despite his support of his law partner, Brendan Byrne, in the gubernatorial primary.
In the general election, Greenberg defeated Galluzzi by 7,689 votes, 60%-37%.
In 1976, Galluzzi ran for Essex County Republican Chairman but lost to incumbent Frederic Remington.
Remington had surprised county committee members by calling for a voice vote and then declaring himself the winner. Galluzzi’s supporter – including West Orange GOP Municipal Chairman John Renna — walked out, held their own vote, and declared their candidate the winner.
The fight went to court, but not before Galluzzi showed up at a Republican event featuring Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and demanded to be introduced as the Essex GOP Chairman.
A Superior Court Judge eventually upheld Remington’s victory, but not until after the November general election. It’s still not clear whether Galluzzi had the votes to win, causing Remington to eschew a ballot.
In 1978, Galluzzi endorsed former State Sen. Alexander Menza (D-Hillside) for U.S. Senate and said he would switch parties to back him. Bill Bradley won that race.
For several years, Galluzzi thrived as a Democrat. He became a budget consultant to the Essex County Board of Freeholders and became treasurer for Essex Democrats under county chairman Raymond P. Durkin.
Galluzzi became Essex County Treasurer in 1987 following the election of Nicholas R. Amato as county executive.
Amato had spent fifteen years as the Essex County Surrogate, but after County Executive Peter Shapiro refused to support him for re-election, he switched parties and ousted Shapiro as a Republican.
After some legal issues, Galluzzi left politics in the early 1990s.
Galluzzi grew up in Newark, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and became an accountant after graduating from Upsala College.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lorraine, his three children, and two grandchildren.