TRENTON, N.J. – State Senator Gerald Cardinale died on Saturday morning at Pascack Valley Hospital after what the GOP Senate office called a “brief illness.” The long-time State Senator was 86 years old, and his passing was unexpected.
“Gerry was one of the best politicians I’ve ever seen,” said his close ally and running mate Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39). “There was never a hand he did not want to shake, a door he did not want to knock on, or a train station where he did not want to greet commuters with a smile. He was my mentor and close friend. It will be a long time before we see another public servant like Gerry Cardinale who had guts, commitment and passion for his constituents. He worked hard every day to earn the trust of the residents of the 39th district and maintain his connection to the people of New Jersey.”
Cardinale had served in the legislature for over 40 years, first joining the Assembly in 1980.
His final months in office were politically contentious. The veteran Republican legislator was in the middle of the fight of his political career at the time of his death; Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) was challenging Cardinle for his seat, and only hours before news of his passing broke, Schepisi had secured the formal backing of the Passaic County GOP.
A dentist by trade, Cardinale also served as mayor of Demarest between 1975 – 1979 before beginning his career in Trenton. He was considered one of the legislature’s more conservative members during his tenture which spanned eight U.S. presidencies from Carter to Biden.
He leaves behind a family led by Carole Cardinale (to whom he was married for 62 years) and five adult children.