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Former Demarest Mayor Joseph Ringelstein

Cardinale predecessor dies

Joseph RIngelstein, former Demarest mayor and Assembly candidate, dead at 93

By David Wildstein, December 30 2018 3:16 pm

Joseph Ringelstein, a Democrat who ousted the Republican mayor of Demarest in 1964 in oine of seventeen Bergen County that voted for Barry Goldwater, died on December 28.  He was 93.

It was Ringelstein’s resignation a decade later that created an opportunity for a young dentist and budding politico, Gerald Cardinale, to win his first race for mayor of Demarest.

Ringelstein, then 33, was elected to the Demarest Borough Council in 1958, defeating his Republican opponent by just 9 votes.  He did not seek re-election to a second term in 1961.

He defeated mayor Edwin Reid, 1,268 to 996, in 1964. Citing time commitments to his growing business, he did not seek re-election in 1966 and was replaced by Republican Adam Zaun.

Ringelstein returned to politics two years later, defeating Zaun by a vote of 1,416 to 1,003.  

In 1970, RIngelstein was re-elected to a third term, but just narrowly,  He lost at the polls, but when the absentee ballots were counted, he won a nine-vote plurality over Louis Venincasa, a Republican councilman running as an independent.  Republican William Maier ran about 200 votes behind Venincasa.

That year, Demarest began electing mayors to a four-year term.

Ringelstein sought a seat in the New Jersey State Assembly in 1971, running in district 13-E, a central Bergen County-based seat which included Demarest, Dumont, Maywood and New Milford.  

Ringelstein ran with Edward Hynes, a 25-year-old law student and U.S Army lieutenant who served in Vietnam.  The Republican candidates were Bergen County Freeholder Franklin Cooper and Dumont Mayor Robert Veit.

Veit was the top vote-getter with 25,270 votes, but Hynes edged out Cooper for the second seat by just 59 votes, 25,483 to 25,424. Ringelstein finished fourth with 24,553 votes.

Ringelstein resigned in March 1974, just before Bergen County Prosecutor Joseph Woodcock, a former Republican state senator, launched a probe into a land sale between the the borough and two Ringelstein friends..  The investigation went nowhere.

Democrat Rosemary Sheehan was appointed to replace RIngelstein, In the 1974 general election, Republican Cardinale defeated her by 25 votes.  That set up a path for Cardinale to go to the State Assembly in 1979 and to the State Senate, where he still serves, in 1981.

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