William Stanford Hart Sr.

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William Stanford Hart Sr.
Mayor of East Orange, New Jersey
In office
Preceded byJames W. Kelly Jr.
City Council of East Orange
In office
Personal details
BornNovember 19, 1925
DiedSeptember 23, 1999

William Stanford Hart Sr. (November 19, 1925 – September 23, 1999) was an American Democratic Party politician serving as Mayor of East Orange, New Jersey in 1970 and 1978. He who became the first African American to win election as mayor of a major New Jersey city when he won in 1969. He served as President of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.[1]


He was born on November 19, 1925 to Margaret and John Hart. He attended Delaware State University and received a master's degree from Seton Hall University. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was a teacher in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He served as an Executive Assistant to Gov. Richard J. Hughes in 1962 and served in the Hughes Administration as the Director of the New Jersey State Division of Youth.

He was elected to the East Orange City Council in 1959, the first African American to hold that office, and was re-elected in 1963 and 1967. He was elected mayor in 1969, succeeding James W. Kelly Jr., and was re-elected in 1973.

In 1972, Hart challenged 12-term U.S. Rep. Peter Rodino in the Democratic primary after Rodino's district was redrawn to include an African American majority.[2] Rodino beat Hart by 13,000 votes, 37,650 (57%) to 24,118 (37%). Former Assemblyman George Richardson finished third with 3,086 votes (5%) and Wilburt Kornegy received 718 votes (1%).[3]

He was indicted in 1975 on charges that he paid a $1,000 bribe to Essex County Freeholder Thomas H. Cooke Jr., the East Orange Democratic Chairman, to get a municipal judgeship for a local lawyer.[4] He was later acquitted.

Hart was challenged in the 1977 Democratic mayoral primary by Cooke and lost.[5]

He died on September 23, 1999.


  1. ^ "Mayor of East Orange to Head Black Caucus of Elected Officials". New York Times. December 4, 1972.
  2. ^ Ferretti, Fred (May 31, 1972). "3 Blacks Vie for Rodino's Seat in Newark Race; 3 Blacks Vie for Rodino's House Seat". New York Times.
  3. ^ "1972 Primary Election Results" (PDF). New Jersey Division of Elections.
  4. ^ "East Orange's Mayor Hart Indicted on Bribe Charge". New York Times. November 6, 1975.
  5. ^ Gleeson, Pat (December 18, 1977). "Hopes Are Rising for East Orange". New York Times.