Is Jersey City Councilwoman the next Gangemi?

The story of newly-elected Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Rivera Lopez allegedly being a resident of Florida is reminiscent of another Jersey City politician with a residency problem. Thomas Gangemi was forced to resign as Mayor of Jersey City in 1963 after it was disclosed that he was not a U.S. citizen.

Gangemi was born in Italy and emigrated in 1913, at age ten, but he was never naturalized. He became part of Mayor Frank Hague’s political machine, and was elected Hudson County Supervisor in 1960 and Mayor in 1961. Gangemi applied for a passport to travel to Italy in 1963 and listed Jersey City as his place of birth. His career unraveled when the U.S. Department of State was unable to verify that.

Gangemi was naturalized in 1964, and ran for Mayor again in 1965. He was initially thrown off the ballot because election officials ruled that he had not been an American citizen long enough to run for office. The courts later returned him to the ballot, but he lost to Thomas Whelan, who had filled the vacant mayoral post.