Frank E. Rodgers
|Frank E. Rodgers|
|Mayor of Harrison, New Jersey|
September 4, 1946 – August 22, 1995
|Born||Francis E. Rodgers
November 15, 1909
|Died||February 8, 2000(aged 90)|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington|
Francis E. Rodgers (November 15, 1909 – February 8, 2000) was an American Democratic Party politician who was among the longest-serving Mayors in U.S. history, first elected in 1946 as Mayor of Harrison, New Jersey. He served in the position for 48 years from 1946 to 1995, having been elected to 24 consecutive two-year terms in office. On May 30, 1987, Rodgers earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records when he surpassed by a single day Mayor Erastus Corning II of Albany, New York, who died in office in 1983 after having served 40 years, 4 months and 28 days in office. The town marked the occasion by closing municipal offices in the mayor's honor and by letting students in the Harrison Public Schools have a day off. However, Mayor Hilmar Moore of Richmond, Texas, served much longer of 63 years in office until he died in 2012.
He was born on November 15, 1909 to Michael Rodgers and Johanna Davin. Rodgers ran for the Harrison Town Council for the first time in 1935, and served there for ten years, including a term when he was re-elected to office while serving 27 months in the United States Army during World War II in the Counterintelligence Corps.
Rodgers defeated incumbent Frederick J. Gassert in his first bid for the mayoralty, a candidate backed by Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague's Hudson County Democratic Party machine. Over his years in office, Rodgers had served as Town Clerk, as County Clerk, as a member of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and as the Board's clerk. He served one term in the New Jersey Senate, from 1978 to 1982, defeating Republican incumbent Anthony Imperiale.
Rodgers served on numerous state authorities and commissions, including being appointed secretary of the New Jersey Racing Commission by Governor Richard J. Hughes in 1963, to the New Jersey Highway Authority in 1976 by Governor Brendan Byrne, and to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority by Republican Governor Thomas Kean in 1984.
Rodgers won his final election campaign in November 1992 by a narrow 111 vote margin out of 3,600 votes cast, in this heavily-Democratic community, having been unable to campaign due to a chronic knee injury. Rodgers cited the injury and his desire to allow a younger generation to serve in office as his justification for declining to run for a 25th term in office. He maintained his position as chairman of the Harrison Democratic Committee after leaving office in 1995.
Rodgers was inducted into the Mayors' Hall of Fame in 1995 by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, having been the prime proponent for the creation of the hall during his tenure with the organization.
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