Kevin Kennedy, a popular local politician who served 20 years as a Belleville councilman before losing his seat in 2018, died on February 12. He was 63.
Kennedy made his first bid for a Belleville Town Commission seat in 1979, finishing twelfth in a field of sixteen candidates for five seats.
“He was a good man and he will be sorely missed,” said former Glen Ridge mayor Carl Bergmanson on Facebook.
Kennedy was a retired Garden State Parkway toll collector. He also served as an aide to Assemblyman John V. Kelly (R-Nutley), and as a member of the Belleville Planning Board.
In 1983, he formed the Kevin G. Kennedy Civic Association, which helped Belleville High School Students obtain college scholarships. He conducted Toys for Tots drives and distributed food to needy families at Chrismas.
He lost his seat in 2002, finishing about 900 votes behind Lou Pallante and Nick Auriemma. That was the first year Belleville began directly electing mayors and Jerry Digori unseated incumbent Angie Paserchia by over 1,500 votes.
Kennedy regained his seat in 2006, and was easily re-elected in 2010 and 2014, when he was the top vote-getter. He was an ally of Mayor Raymond Kimble.
Kennedy finished fourth in a field of six council candidates in 2018, with two of mayoral candidate Michael Melham’s running mates, Thomas Graziano and Naomy De Peña, winning the council seats.
A Republican-turned-Democrat who won non-partisan elections, Kennedy was the GOP candidate for Essex County Clerk in 2000. He lost a Democratic primary for Essex County Freeholder-At-Large in 2010 by a 9-1 margin, and won 3.3% of the vote as an independent candidate for Register of Deeds and Mortgages in 2009.
A memorial service has been scheduled for 1 PM on February 29 at The Chandelier.