Discover Teaneck '83: "THEN AND NOW"

Published for The Teaneck Housing Center by The Teaneck News
May 18, 1983

Sen. Feldman Views Government, Elections

by Sen. Metthew Felman

As one of Teaneck's foremost boosters, I am proud to say my political career began right here in this unique township when I was first elected to the Township Council in 1958.

Because of this active role, I have accepted an invitation to prepare an article for this commemorative edition on the subject of Teaneck government and elections.

Politically, it seems reasonable to divide the community's history into three periods. The first, from incorporation in 1895 to 1930, covers a period of conventional partisan politics. Even an elder statesman cannot provide details on that period!

We can assume, however, that partisan politics was less than satisfactory to a majority of Teaneck's residents in the late 20's because 1930 marked the beginning of a new era of nonpartisan council manager government, the system which prevails today. The mechanism was a referendum for change.

Second Period

The second period begins in 1930 and concludes in the late 50's, when the Teaneck Taxpayers' League, which had dominated elections throughout much of that period, lost its grip on township government.

Parenthetically, we can summarize the history of the manager's post briefly, because only three men have held the position since 1930.

Our first full-time, professional manager was Paul Volcker, whose son, Paul Jr., is now chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Clearly, the son qualifies as one of our most distinguished native products.

After Mr. Volcker retired in 1950, the post was held for eight years by Jim Welsh. When Jim left, I was mayor.  The council conducted a nationwide search for a worthy successor. We found him in, of all places, a small office adjoining Jim's in the municipal building, Werner H. Schmid, Jim's assistant, became manager on March 18, 1959. He continues Paul Volcker's tradition of professional, nonpartisan managerial competence.

To get back to the election story: In 1958, Teaneck elected its last five-member council. When the population topped 40,000 in the 1960 census, the Township Council expanded to seven members.

Winners of that 1958 campaign, aside from myself, were Augie Hanniball, Milton Votee, Tom Costa, and Brad Menkes. Augie, Milton and Tom were endorsed by the Taxpayers' League, but by other groups as well, and the league's decline began with that election. Augie became mayor and I was chosen as deputy mayor. I was advanced to the mayor's chair after Augie died, less than a year after we took office. Rudy Travers was appointed by the council to fill Augie's seat, but he lost a special election in November 1959, to Sam Bartoletta, who served out the balance of  the four-year term.

In 1962, Teaneck's first seven-member council comprised Tom Costa, Max Hasse, Brad Menkes, Sam Bartoletta, Jack Walsh, Bob Henderson and me -- and I was chosen for another term as mayor. Seventeen candidates competed for the seven seats.

Sam Bartoletta had to resign in mid-term after accepting a seat on the Bergen County Board of Taxation, and Frank Hall won a three-way race in November 1965, for the balance of the term. 

By the time the 1966 campaign rolled around, I had been elected to the State Senate, so I gave up my Township Council seat. The 1966 race attracted 17 candidates; the winners were Max Hasse, Tom Costa, Brad Menkes, Jack Walsh, Frank Hall, Jack Dougherty and Bob Henderson. Tom Costa was chosen to be mayor.

Less than a month after the election, Bob Henderson passed away, and Isaac McNatt became Teaneck's first black council member when the council appointed him to the vacancy. In November 1966, Ike won a three-way race for the unexpired portion of Bob Henderson's seat.

After Jack Walsh resigned in mid-term, Frank Burr was appointed by the council to succeed him, and Frank then won a two-man race for the balance of the term.

In 1970, 16 candidates competed for the seven seats. Winners were Max Hasse, Ike McNatt, Brad Menkes, Frank Burr, Frank Hall, Eleanor Kieliszek (the first councilwoman) and Jack Dougherty. The council chose Frank Burr, who had been a mayor force in the creation of the redevelopment proposal, as its mayor.

The Council, in 1974, had chosen a developer for the Glenwood project, and the plan itself became the focal point of the campaign. With an unprecedented 20 candidates in the field, the winners were Eleanor Kieliszek, Max Hasse, Jack Dougherty, Dorothy Silverstein, Frank Hall, John Jordan and Martin Kramer. The Township Council chose Eleanor as Teaneck's first woman mayor.

By 1978, the council had chosen another developer for the Glenwood project, but the selection itself had generated controversy, as we1l as a lawsuit, so Glenwood was the major issue for the third time. In a field of 16 candidates, the winners were Frank Hall, Brad Menkes, Bernard Brooks, Lucille Steiner, Peter Zeleny, Andy Edelman and Eleanor Kieliszek. Frank Hall was chosen as mayor.

Last year, only. 11 candidates filed for the campaign, and the winners were Eleanor Kieliszek, Brad Menkes, Bernard Brooks, Lucille Steiner, Frank Hall, Judy Glassman and Pete Zeleny. Bernie Brooks was the council's choice for mayor, Teaneck's first black mayor.

I was attracted to Teaneck as a home for my family more than 35 years ago, because of its reputation for nonpartisanship. and I am proud to have played a role in the preservation of that unique status. It's my hometown and I love it!

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