Joyce L. Goldman, a political activist and insider who became the first woman to serve as Essex County Director of Building and Grounds in 1985, died on Friday. She was 82.
“A dear and beloved member of our Essex County family, Joyce helped thousands of people, answering their questions, resolving their problems and treating them with dignity,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. “Her caring nature, friendship and wisdom will be missed. Our hearts go out to her family.”
A graduate of Cornell University, Goldman became involved in politics in the late 1960s and helped launch the Montclair Peace Center, which offered draft counselling and a peace-related educational initiative. She led a protest against the removal of Rev. L. Maynard Catchings from the Montclair Board of Education in 1974. Catchings had been Montclair’s first Black school board member and had supported busing and other issues related to school desegregation that caused Mayor Peter Bonastia some political problems.
In 1976, Goldman became chair of the Montclair Ward 3 Democrats. She had run on a ticket with William Brach, a prominent liberal activist and the founder of the Brach Eichler law firm. Goldman supported Gov. Brendan Byrne for re-election in 1977 after the Essex County Democratic Chairman, Harry Lerner, put former State Sen. Ralph DeRose (D-South Orange) on the Democratic organization line.
Goldman was active in the Essex County charter change movement campaign in 1977 as president of a grassroots organization, Montclair Democrats for Good Government, and played a key role in the off-the-line victory of 26-year-old Assemblyman Peter Shapiro (D-South Orange) in the first campaign for Essex County Executive in 1978.
After Shapiro took office, Goldman became his special assistant and was his liaison to the Board of Freeholders. She spent four years as the executive assistant to the county administrator and two years as the deputy director of buildings and grounds. Shapiro named her to the post after the retirement of Eddin Rodrick, where she managed mover 300 employees and a $12 million budget.
She lost the job after Shapiro lost his 1986 re-election bid. Goldman was replaced by John Amato, the father of the new county executive.
When Democrats regained the county executive office in 1990, Goldman became director of the Essex County Office of Consumer Services. She lost that job after Republican Jim Treffinger was elected in 1994.
Goldman supported Joseph DiVincenzo for county executive in the 2002 primary and later became a member of his transition team. She served as director of the Essex County Office of Constituent Services until her retirement.