BY TOM HESTER SR.
Funeral services were held Monday for Assemblyman Peter Biondi (R-Somerset) who died Thursday, two days after he was elected to his eighth term in the lower house.
Biondi, 69, of Hillsborough, passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.
The funeral service at the United Reformed Church in Somerville drew a large number of New Jersey Republican Party activists, including Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and legislators.
Biondi’s widow, Joan, their children, Peter and Jennifer, and two grandsons, Jason and Matthew, occupied the front row. Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset) and Assemblyman-elect Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset) were in attendance.
Biondi received the most votes out of the four candidates running for the two Assembly seats in District 16 of Somerset, Hunterdon and Middlesex counties. As the funeral was being held, placards urging Biondi’s re-election still peppered highway roadsides around Somerville.
Bateman said of Biondi’s passing, "It is hard to imagine serving the people of the 16th District without Peter Biondi by my side. Pete was more than a great legislator, he was a good friend. He always put service to our constituents ahead of politics and partisanship, and constantly reminded us that legislators could disagree in the Statehouse while maintaining respect for one another. His presence will be sorely missed in all of our lives, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the Biondi family."
“Pete was a dedicated legislator who was committed to serving the needs of his constituents and their communities with honor and dignity,” Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris) said. “He was truly an example of what it means to serve. His many contributions to the Legislature will always be remembered."
In his 14 years in the Assembly, Biondi sponsored, among other things, legislation to provide flood relief for hurricane victims, increase penalties for drunken drivers with juvenile passengers and fund farmland preservation.
“Assemblyman Biondi was a great example of what it means to be a public servant,” Oliver said. “He always made helping others and good public policy his priority. He carried himself with dignity and integrity. He was a friend to all of New Jersey.”
Biondi was born in Newark in 1942 and graduated from Union High School. He held a number of positions in the Hillsborough government, including mayor from 1986 to 1993. He later became a Somerset County freeholder, then an assemblyman. He served in the Army Reserve from 1961 to 1967. Biondi had worked as trucking company president and had owned a golf course. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and his two children, Peter and Jennifer.
To fill the seat, 16th District Republicans will appoint a replacement who would hold the position until a special election next November.