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Emil Olszowy (R-Passaic) served in the New Jersey State Assembly from 1976 to 1980. NEW JERSEY LEGISLATURE PHOTO

A summer tax debate led to legendary one-liner

By David Wildstein, July 01 2018 1:07 pm

During the summer of 1976, the New Jersey State Assembly was holding a late-night session to debate the creation of a state income tax.  Even at that hour, the Assembly chamber was uncomfortably hot after temperatures reached over 100 degrees that day.  The old chamber, before the late 1980’s renovation, had horrible air conditioning and there were Bill Bradley-sized fans set up all over the place.

At one point during a contentious debate, a Republican Assemblyman from Passaic, Emil Olszowy, stood up from his seat.  That caught the attention of Speaker Joseph LeFante (D-Bayonne).

“Mr. Olszowy, why do you rise?” LeFante asked.

His response would become one of the most legendary lines in the history of the New Jersey Legislature.

“Mr. Speaker,” Olszowy said.  “I rise to aerate my shorts.”

Olszowy was well liked by colleagues from both parties.  He was elected in 1975 in the old 34th district, which was Clifton and Passaic, back when both towns were politically competitive.  Olszowy, a former Passaic city councilman, was elected to the Assembly in 1975 by 443 votes, ousting two-term Democratic incumbent (and future congressman) Herb Klein.  He was re-elected twice in a district that also elected a Democratic Senator and Assemblyman.  Olszowy died in office in 1980 after suffering a heart attack.  He was 58.

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