Francis E. Rodgers served for 24 consecutive two-year terms as the Mayor of the Town of Harrison
Mayor Rodgers recreation was always a big part of life for Harrison kids. The image below shows Mayor Rodgers stopping by to see a group of youngsters before they leave for a New York Yankees game in 1962.
Francis E. Rodgers (November 15, 1909 – February 9, 2000) was an American Democratic Party politician who was among the longest-serving Mayors in U.S. history, first elected in 1946 as Mayor of Harrison, a town in Hudson County, New Jersey, located across the Passaic River from Newark, the state's largest city.
He served in the position for 48 years from 1947 to 1995, having been elected to 24 consecutive two-year terms in office. On May 30, 1987, Rodgers earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records when he surpassed by a single day Mayor Erastus Corning of Albany, New York, who died in office in 1983 after having served 40 years, 4 months and 28 days in office. The town marked the occasion by letting students out early from the town's public schools and by closing municipal offices in the mayor's honor. However, Mayor Hilmar Moore of Richmond, Texas, has now served much longer, with nearly 60 years in office.
Rodgers ran for the Harrison Town Council for the first time in 1935, and served there for ten years, including a term when he was re-elected to office while serving 27 months in the United States Army during World War II in the Counter-Intelligence Corps.
Rodgers defeated incumbent Frederick J. Gassert in his first bid for the mayoralty, a candidate backed by Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague's Hudson County Democratic Party machine. Over his years in office, Rodgers has served as Town Clerk, as County Clerk, as a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders and as the Board's clerk. He served one term in the New Jersey Senate, from 1978 to 1982, defeating Republican incumbent Anthony Imperiale.
Rodgers served on numerous state authorities and commissions, including being appointed secretary of the New Jersey Racing Commission by Governor Richard J. Hughes in 1963, to the New Jersey Highway Authority in 1976 by Governor Brendan Byrne, and to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority by Republican Governor Thomas Kean in 1984.
In this picture, the fire department shows off a truck that was remodeled following the Camden brewery fire. Seated behind the wheel is Capt. Peter Goodman. Standing next to the truck are fire chairman O.J. DeSalvo, Mayor Frank Rodgers (center), and Chief Walter P. Tuite.
Rodgers won his final election campaign in November 1992 by a narrow 111 votes out of 3,600 votes cast, in this heavily-Democratic community, having been unable to campaign due to a chronic knee injury. Rodgers cited the injury and his desire to allow a younger generation to serve in office as his justification for declining to run for a 25th term in office. He maintained his position as chairman of the Harrison Democratic Committee after leaving office in 1995.
Rodgers was inducted into the Mayors' Hall of Fame in 1995 by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, having been the prime proponent for the creation of the hall during his tenure with the organization.
Rodgers died on February 9, 2000 and is buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey.