Middlesex County News

South Brunswick Cancels Tuesday Night Council Meeting As Community Prepares To Honor Late Mayor Gambatese

The late South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese, left, during the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce's 'Meet the Mayors' event last year. Credits: Charles W. Kim Photo

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township officials announced Monday that the scheduled Township Council meeting for Tuesday night is cancelled as the community prepares for funeral services for Mayor Frank Gambatese.

Gambatese, 81, passed away early Saturday at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick following a brief illness.

He was in the middle of his fourth, four-year term leading the 42-square mile municipality of about 48,000 people.

Sign Up for E-News

Funeral arrangements are scheduled with a viewing from 3-8 p.m. Tuesday and a funeral mass at 10 a.m. Wednesday, all taking place at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, located at 10 Kingston Lane in Monmouth Junction.

The council meeting was initially scheduled for 7 p.m. with a budget meeting preceding the regular meeting.

That meeting is now rescheduled to take place prior to the scheduled April 4 meeting, according to a notification email from the township.

As the community mourns the popular Democratic mayor, accolades for his service to the community continued to pour in.

“We are saddened by the loss of South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese,” Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Lina Llona said in a statement Monday. “Mayor Gambatese was a strong advocate for Middlesex County's business community and advanced economic development policies in his town. As mayor, he attracted hundreds of new businesses into the township including Target, Best Buy and Coca-Cola and also promoted open space preservation, leading the effort to preserve a 60-acre property that was once the historic Princeton Nursery. The site still features unique plants and historic buildings to this day.”

She said Gambatese embodied what it means to be a local mayor with a global approach, and understood that working with neighboring towns and addressing policies in a holistic way was necessary for a truly sustainable community.

“We were fortunate to have Mayor Gambatese join us for our ‘Meet the Mayors’ economic development series where he discussed his approach to governance,” she said. “His leadership style is unmatched and we will miss him as a valuable partner in Middlesex County. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, and we will celebrate his life in public service and commitment to his community by carrying forward his legacy.”

Township officials said that shuttle busses from the municipal building on Ridge Road would be provided to the services.

Officials are also considering what happens now.

It is believed that Deputy Mayor Chris Killmurray will become acting mayor, at least for the short term, but it is not yet clear what will happen with the vacant seat.

Normally, the Democrats would appoint someone to the seat and then a special election would take place in November for the unexpired one-year term of that seat.

The fact that it is the mayor’s seat, however, may complicate the issue.

Mayor Gambatese was only the second directly elected mayor in township history, as well as the longest serving, some 14 years.

When the township changed its form of government in 1997, 11 candidates ran for the four council seats and the mayor’s seat.

Since that time, local council elections are every-other year with three seats up in one election and the mayor and the remaining council seat coming up two years later.

Democrats Charles Carley, Joe Camarota and Jo Hochman just won re-election in November of 2016, making the next election for the mayor and Deputy Mayor Killmurray due in 2018 with no council race this year.

Petitions for local partisan elections have a deadline of early April, and anyone seeking those seats must have their petitions in by then to appear on the June primary ballot.

That deadline is just about a week away.

Township Attorney Don Sears is looking at the options and is likely to issue an opinion in the coming days, according to officials.

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at ckim@tapinto.net or nwells@tapinto.net and click here to express your support for local news today.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android - Click here for iOS .

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Sun, March 18, 7:00 PM

Temple Sholom of Scotch Plains, Scotch Plains

Louis Bamberger, NJ Philanthropist & Department ...

Education Religions And Spirituality

Mon, March 19, 5:30 PM


Taste of Middlesex

Food & Drink


Mon, March 19, 5:30 PM

Pines Manor, Edison

Taste of Middlesex

Food & Drink

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per ...

Police: Piscataway Teen Charged for Posting Threat on Social Media

March 16, 2018

PISCATAWAY, NJ – A 15-year-old Piscataway student is facing charges after investigators determined a social media post about a possible shooting at Piscataway High School was a credible threat, police officials said on Thursday. 

Piscataway police and school resource officers immediately began their investigation once they learned of the post on March 13, said police. They said ...

Franklin Student Escorted from School; Loaded Gun Found in Backpack

March 16, 2018

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - A 17-year-old high school student was escorted from school yesterday by police who found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his back pack along with narcotics, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Robertson said the initial investigation by law enforcement revealed that there were no known threats to the students or faculty; he commended the ...

Rep. Watson Coleman Urges Support for Students Participating in Protests: Letter to Local School Officials Asks for Encouragement Rather Than Punishment

March 16, 2018

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) sent letters to principals and other school administrators in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District urging support and encouragement for students who engage in protests and demonstrations for gun violence prevention amid reports that some New Jersey schools had suspended or otherwise punished students for their ...