Pat Sebold, who may be the longest-serving Democratic municipal chair in the state, was re-elected on Monday for a three-year term for the post she first won in 1976.
She has led Livingston Democrats since John B. Duff resigned to become the president of the University of Massachusetts – Lowell.
Sebold has also been elected to the Essex County Board of Commissioners ten times – she set the record for the most votes ever received by a county commissioner when she was re-elected in 2020 – and ranks third as the all-time highest vote-getter of any county commissioner in New Jersey history.
She was appointed in 1993 after Freeholder Linda Lordi Cavanaugh resigned to run the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority. She won a hotly contested Democratic primary that year on a slate that included now-County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. One of the unsuccessful candidates in that race was Sheila Oliver, now the Lt Governor of New Jersey.
Sebold’s first political victory came in 1970, when Sebold mounted an off-the-line run for the Livingston Democratic County Committee. Under the “Concerned Democrat” slogan, she besieged organization candidate Rose Vallella with 74% of the vote, 166 to 58.
Two years later, Sebold’s late husband, Burton, joined her on the Democratic ticket and became her longtime running mate.
Also in 1972, Sebold became involved in George McGovern’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. While an organization slate of candidates opposed to McGovern and still pushing to nominate Hubert Humphrey won 14 of 15 Essex County delegate slots, Livingston went 2-1 for McGovern.
In 1973, Sebold backed Livingston attorney Donald Coburn who ran off the organization line for the State Senate. Coburn lost the primary to Roseland councilman Joel Wasserman, and Livingston went for Wasserman by 738 votes, a 70-%-30% margin.
With Sebold playing an active role, Democrats won control three seats on the Livingston Township Council in November 1974 and have held majority control for 42 of the last 44 years.
Her political influence increased exponentially when she played a major role in electing the first Essex County Executive. Sebold backed 26-year-old Assemblyman Peter Shapiro (D-South Orange), who carried all 21 of Livingston’s voting districts with a 70%-24% win against the candidate backed by the Essex County Democratic organization, Sheriff John Cryan. Livingston delivered Shapiro a 1,245-vote plurality. Shapiro beat Cryan in the Democratic primary by just 2,147 votes countywide.
The retired West Orange High School English teacher has served as a delegate to several Demcoratic National Conventions, including 1980 when she ran on a slate pledged to Edward M. Kennedy in his bid to unseat Jimmy Carter in the primary election. She also served on the Essex County Board of Elections and the Essex County Vocational and Technical Board of Education.
Councilman Michael Vieira was re-elected Democratic municipal vice chairman.