George Otlowski, whose career in Middlesex County politics included service as an Assemblyman, Freeholder and Mayor of Perth Amboy, died on Monday at age 97. His passing comes less than a week after the man who pushed him out as Mayor, Joseph Vas, was indicted on state corruption charges.
Otlowski was elected to the Middlesex County Board of Freeholders in 1954, part of David Wilentz's Perth Amboy-based political machine that dominated Middlesex County politics for four decades. He broke from the machine, briefly, in 1962, to run for Congress when New Jersey picked up a fifteenth congressional seat after the 1960 census – a new district that included nearly all of Middlesex County. He lost to Edward Patten, a former Perth Amboy Mayor and N.J. Secretary of State, by a 56%-44% margin.
In 1973, Otlowski returned to public office as an Assemblyman, representing the 19th district. His running mate was Alan Karcher, who would later become Assembly Speaker and one of the most dominant legislators of his time. Perth Amboy voters elected him Mayor in 1976, and he served there until 1990, when he resigned rather than face a recall vote organized by Vas. Vas won a special election to replace Otlowski as Mayor.
"George Otlowski influenced a generation of young people interested in government and politics. He has left a lasting legacy," said State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge).