Home>Highlight>Mary Manzo, whose two sons faced off in ’92 Jersey City mayor’s race, dies at 102

Mary Manzo. (Photo: Reilly Bonner Funeral Home).

Mary Manzo, whose two sons faced off in ’92 Jersey City mayor’s race, dies at 102

Louis Manzo won the support of his mother, who went on TV to urge voters to elect ‘The Real Manzo’

By David Wildstein, January 24 2022 8:15 pm

Mary Manzo, who was forced to choose between two sons running against each other for mayor of Jersey City in 1992, died on January 19.  She was 102.

Her two sons, Hudson County Freeholder Louis Manzo and former Jersey City Democratic Municipal Chairman Allen Manzo, both ran for mayor in a 19-candidate special election following the criminal conviction of Mayor Gerald McCann.

Allen Manzo was a McCann ally, while Louis Manzo was part of a faction that had opposed the mayor.

The two brothers had squabbled over campaigns slogans – Louis’ was “An Honest Difference,” while Allen chose “An Honest Change.”  A Superior Court judge refused Louis’ bid to toss his brother from the ballot; after that, he changed his slogan to “The Real Manzo.”

The ballot drawing for the November special election put Allen in the top slot and Louis somewhere

The campaign received national attention when Mary Manzo appeared in television commercial endorsing her son, Louis, and urging Jersey City voters to support “The Real Manzo.”

Allen Manzo was charged with aggravated assault and possession of an unlawful weapon after beating 66-year-old Rudolph Contey with a tire iron.  Contey, who suffered a serious head injury, was hanging Louis Manzo for Mayor signs on telephone polls the night before the election.

The winner of the election was Bret Schundler, a Republican.  He defeated Louis Manzo by 1,767 votes, 17.6% to 14.7%.  Allen Manzo may have been the spoiler: he received 4,591 votes (7.6%) in his 7th place finish.  Because it was a special election, there was no runoff.

Louis Manzo served in the State Assembly from 2004 to 2008.  He lost bids for mayor in 1993, 2001, and 2009 and for the State Senate in 2004 and 2007.  He had run Jersey City’s Health Department.

Allen Manzo died in 1998 at age 55.

Mary Manzo was “blessed with perfect health,” her family said in an obituary.  “She was never ill, remained medication free, and was only assisted by a vitamin regiment.”

“Mary believed fervently in the Mercy of God to remedy and temper any problems that life could throw down in one’s way,” her family said. “She never dwelled on the negative and saw only the good in the people she encountered.”

In addition to her son, Louis, she was survived by her son, Ronald, her daughter, Judith, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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