Joseph Ryglicki, a former Hudson County Surrogate and a veteran of some of North Bergen’s greatest political wars, died on March 26 after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.
Ryglicki’s tenure in politics goes back to the 1970s and he ran for North Bergen Township Commissioner in a 1979 campaign that saw Anthony DiVincent overthrow the fabled Mocco brothers.
Peter Mocco had been the mayor of North Bergen and Joseph was the municipal clerk
Ryglicki spent nearly 30 years as the North Bergen school board attorney. He also served as municipal attorney in Weehawken and as the North Bergen municipal prosecutor and was the North Bergen Municipal Court Judge, a post he got at age 36
The battles between the Mocco brothers and DiVincent were legendary.
Mocco had fended off a fight with DiVincent in 1975 by about 1,500 votes despite his indictment.
While battling a grand jury probe in to voter fraud allegations in a 1976 congressional primary, North Bergen voted to recall Mocco in 1978, but on the same day also voted to re-elect him in a race against DiVincent. That happened because more than 1,000 people voted in the recall but not on the second question regarding a special election.
Mocco did not seek re-election in 1979, and a slate headed by DiVincent won handily against the Mocco.
Ryglicki finished 8th in a field of 14 candidates for five township commissioner seats. He finished 2,617 votes behind the winner of the fifth seat, John J. Duffy, a 350-pound former teamster.
After his campaign for local office, DiVincent fired his Ryglicki’s father, John, from his job running the North Bergen Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) program.
The following year, Ryglicki played a key role in an unsuccessful attempt by the Mocco brothers to recall Vincent and his slate of commissioners.
DiVincent was ousted in 1985 by Mocco ally Leo Gattoni, who at age 74 led an rebel slate to take out DiVincent in a recall election. The current mayor, State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, a popular school principal, won a race for North Bergen Commissioner as part of the Gattoni ticket.
Ryglicki was elected Surrogate in 2014 following the retirement of incumbent Donald DiLeo.
Unopposed in the primary election, Ryglicki defeated Republican Dipika Majmudar by 43,851 votes, 80%-20%. Ryglicki carried every district in every municipality in Hudson County.
Ryglicki retired in 2019 and was succeeded by Tilo Rivas, a Union County Commissioner.
“Joe was a consummate public servant who played a major role in the growth of our school district during his time there.,” said Sacco. “He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
Ryglicki was a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Fordham University Law School.
Sacco said a viewing will be held on March 31 from 2-7 PM at the Vainieri Funeral Home in North Bergen.