Joseph Lobosco, Sr., a former Passaic County freeholder and North Haledon councilman, died on April 17. He was 85.
Lobosco began his political career as a North Haledon school board member in the 1960s and in 1972 became the first Democrat in a decade to win a North Haledon council seat.
He ran for Passaic County freeholder in 1975, challenging incumbent Louise Friedman and her running mate, Wayne school board member Joseph Bubba. Bubba was replacing Freeholder Frank Farinella, who resigned following his bribery conviction.
Bubba led Democrat Edward Murphy, a former Paterson Alderman, by about 1,000 votes. Lobosco finished around 2,800 votes behind Friedman.
Lobosco sought a rematch in 1978 and won. That gave Democrats a 6-1 majority on the freeholder board.
Democrats picked up two freeholder seats that year, with Lobosco, the top vote-getter, leading Friedman by nearly 2,000 votes. His running mate, former Ringwood Mayor Frank Fahy, came in about 1,000 votes behind Bubba and almost 3,000 votes ahead of Bubba.
A sharp split among Passaic Democratic freeholders began in late 1981 over the election of Edward O’Byrne as freeholder director.
At one point, a misunderstanding exasperated the split. Lobosco watched Democratic freeholder James Roe abruptly leave the meeting. Thinking he was departing in protest, he left too – only to find out later that Roe had simply taken a bathroom break.
Democratic party leaders withdrew part support for Lobosco and Fahy and replaced them on the organization line with Paterson Council President Nicholas DeLuccia and Pompton Lakes Democratic Municipal Chairman Gus Paterniti.
Lobosco and Fahy asked the Passaic Democratic screening committee to hold an open primary for freeholder, but they were rejected.
In the June primary, Lobosco staged a stunning upset and won renomination off the line.
The top vote-getter was DeLuccia, but Lobosco defeated Paterniti by about 350 votes countywide to win renomination. Fahy finished fourth.
It was a massive blow to the Passaic County Democratic Chairman, Alex Komar. One week after the primary, Komar lost re-election, 267 to 137, to Pat DiIanni, an attorney from Hawthorne
Lobosco’s victory was short-lived, with Republicans sweeping Passaic County in the general election.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Kean carried Passaic by over 4,000 votes against Democrat Jim Florio.
In the race for freeholder, Friedman mounted a comeback bid for the seat she had held for six years before her ouster in 1978. She and Little Falls Mayor Frederick DeFuria defeated Lobosco and DeLuccia.
Lobosco finished about 2,300 votes behind DeFuria and Friedman ran nearly 8,000 votes ahead of DeLuccia.
In the race for Passaic County Register of Deeds and Mortgages, Republican Frank Sylvester easily defeated Komar.
Bubba, who had lost his freeholder seat three years earlier and had been ousted as GOP county chairman after the June 1981 primary, defeated Assemblyman William Bate (D-Clifton) for a State Senate seat.
Lobosco and Fahy ran again for freeholder in 1982, but the Passaic Democratic screening committee went with Roe, Paterson Council President William Pirone and Passaic Democratic Municipal Chairman Gregory Komeshok.
Instead of running off-the-line in the primary, Lobosco and Fahy announced that they would run together as independents in the general election.
Despite the presence of two former Democratic freeholders on the ballot as independent, Roe, Pirone and Komeshok won easily. They ran more than 16,000 votes ahead of the Republicans, and more than 46,000 votes in front of Lobosco and Fahy.
In 1983, Lobosco toyed with running for freeholder again against the Democratic organization choices, Murphy, his 1975 running mate, and Clifton Councilman Donald Hetchka. He wound up backing down.
He considered another Democratic bid in 1986, when two other out-of-power ex-freeholders: Joseph Russo and O’Byrne, his onetime nemesis, challenged the Democratic organization candidates, John Currie and DiIanni, in the freeholder primary.
Eventually, he decided not to run after Fahy said he would not join his old running mate.
Following the death of Paterson Mayor Frank X. Graves in 1990, Lobosco played a key role in a bid by Passaic County Freeholder Michael Adamo’s bid for mayor against Assemblyman Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson). He loaned more than $10,000 to the Adamo campaign.
Lobosco eventually mounted a political comeback, winning a seat on the Manchester Regional High School Board of Education in 1996. Citing health reasons and frustration with being the lone voice of dissent, he resigned in 1998.