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Warren County Surrogate Kevin O'Neill. (Photo: Warren County Surrogate's Office).

Kevin O’Neill, Warren County Surrogate, dies at 76

Death of three-term surrogate will trigger special election in November

By David Wildstein, April 27 2022 9:17 am

Kevin O’Neill, the Warren County Surrogate, died on April 25.  He was 76.

O’Neill was first elected in 2010 when he ousted incumbent Susan Dickey in the Republican primary by a 54%-46% margin.  He easily defeated Democrat Tammy Smith in the general election and was re-elected in 2015 and 2020.

O’Neill was a teacher, coach and realtor before serving as surrogate.  He was also a U.S. Army veteran.

His late father-in-law, Leonard Fiedler, spent fifteen years as the surrogate.

“Kevin led the office to be one of the best in New Jersey. Prior to his time in office, he was a pillar in the Hackettstown community,” said James Kern III, a county commissioner.  “My thoughts and prayers are with his family.  A sad day for Warren County.”

Because the primary has passed, the Warren County Republican and Democratic county committees must hold a special convention before September 13 to nominate a candidate to run in a November 2022 special election.  There is no unexpired term for the office of surrogate; the election will be for a five-year term, resetting the political clock for that office.

O’Neill is the second sitting surrogate to die in office in the last five months.  James LaCorte of Union County passed away in December.

A viewing will be held on Thursday evening from 4-8 PM at Cochran Funeral Home in Hackettstown.  A funeral service is set for Friday morning at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 10:30 AM.

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