Union Beach Mayor Paul J. Smith, Jr. died today after taking a fall in his home, according to a More Monmouth Musings report. He was 66.
While being treated for his fall at Riverview Medical Center, Smith went into cardiac arrest.
He began his political career in 1982, at age 28, when he was elected to the borough council as an independent. Smith ran with Republican Harry Wooley and defeated Democratic incumbents James Sirignano and Joseph Miller.
Smith defeated Miller by 84 votes, with Sirignano running 44 votes behind his running mate.
Smith started out as a registered Democrat, but switched to the Republican Party early in his career. He became the council president when he took office in January 1983.
He lost his bid for re-election in 1985, but came back in 1986 and was re-elected to the council nine times.
Smith was elected mayor in 2011 with 71% of the vote against Democrat Carly Bradley.
He was re-elected with 61% of the vote against Simone Dannecker in 2015 and as unopposed when he sought a third term last year.
His late father, Paul J. Smith, Sr., was elected to the Union Beach Borough Council in 1960 and later served as executive director of the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority. In 1967, he was the Democratic candidate for the Monmouth County State Senate seat against Republicans Richard Stout and Alfred Beadleston.
“Today we mourn the loss of former Union Beach Mayor, Paul Smith,” said Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt in a statement Thursday evening. “The entire NJGOP family holds the Smith family and the Union Beach community in their thoughts and prayers.”