John Gregorio’s five-decade political career ends in a loss

Among the most stunning upsets of the 2006 campaign was the defeat of Linden Mayor John Gregorio, described by the Star-Ledger at the “iconic lion of Linden politics … a controversial and bare-knuckled Democrat whose career was punctuated by a criminal conviction and an extraordinary comeback.” The 80-year-old Gregorio lost to Councilman Richard Gerbounka, a former Democrat who ran as an Independent, by 74 votes. Gregorio was first elected Mayor in 1967 and served until his 1983 criminal conviction; he was elected to the State Assembly in 1973 and 1975 and won races for the State Senate seat in 1977 (defeating incumbent Thomas Dunn, the Mayor of Elizabeth) and 1981. On his final day in office in 1990, Governor Thomas Kean pardoned Gregorio, enabling him to run again for Mayor later that year. Gerbounka, 60, a retired Police Captain and onetime Gregorio ally, won a Council seat in 1994 as a Democrat. He split with Gregorio four years ago and won re-election to the Council as an Independent.

John Gregorio’s five-decade political career ends in a loss