CHATHAM, NJ - Leanna Brown, the first Republican woman to gain election to the New Jersey State Senate, was remembered on Thursday night when her passing was announced at the regular meeting of the Chatham Township Committee.

"She was the standard bearer for women in politics," Karen Swartz, Chatham Township Committee member, said. "She was encouraging to me. She was a mentor and a friend. She was very involved with education of young people and was a Republican to her last breath. The county freeholders and Gov. Christie and have expressed their condolences to her family."

Committee member Karen Swartz speaks about longtime Chatham resident Leanna Brown's political career

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A longtime resident of Chatham Borough, Brown served on the Borough of Chatham Council from 1969 through 1972; served as a state legislator in the 26th district in 1980 and 1981, and NJ State Senator from 1983 through 1993. 

"We are going to miss her a great deal," Swartz said. "We are a better community for having Leanna serving along with us. She was a great proponent of the Republican Club of the Chathams and a real standard bearer for public service. In a time where we see a lot of people in government and leadership positions for themselves, she truly was the embodiment of public servant. She did what she did for the betterment of the community."

Brown also was a Morris County Freeholder and served as the body's director in 1976. She also was the president of the New Jersey Association of Counties in 1978.

Morris County Freeholders Kathleen A. DeFillippo, Hank Lyon, Douglas R. Cabana, John Cesaro, Thomas J. Mastrangelo, Christine Myers, and Deborah Smith issued a statement on Brown's passing, which said, in part:

"Leanna Brown served with honor as a Chatham Councilwoman, Morris County Freeholder, member of the State Assembly, and as the first Republican woman elected to the New Jersey State Senate. She also served as a longtime member of the State Casino Control Commission. In 2001 she worked on President George W. Bush’s transition team and was later appointed by President Bush to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

"Leanna always showed a passion for the needs of county and state residents, working tirelessly on their behalf. She was a great backer of womens’ causes, and was a great friend and mentor to many women who sought to join the political and electoral process. She was the driving force behind the county’s creation of the Morris County Advisory Committee on Women."