“We’ve lost a great man.”
Former 9th District Senator and Surf City Mayor Leonard T. Connors Jr. passed away on December 4th at the age of 87, surrounded by family.
Former Senator and Surf City Mayor Leonard T. Connors, Jr. passed away on Dec. 4th at the age of 87. (SenateNJ.com)
Senator Leonard Connors served as Mayor of Surf City from 1966 to 2015 and began serving the first of his two terms as a member of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1977. He was a former director of the National Association of Coastal Mayors and served as a director for the United Way campaign.
He was first elected to the State Senate in 1981 and served until 2007. Continuing his work as one of the founders of Ocean County’s first Commission on handicapped persons, Senator Leonard Connors authored legislation, signed into law in 2005, that improved polling place accessibility for individuals with disabilities and the elderly.
Following the September 11 attacks, he wrote the law that permitted security officers at nuclear facilities to carry semi-automatic weapons. All certified nurse aides, personal care assistants and homemaker-home health aides are required to undergo criminal history record checks as a result of the law authored by Senator Leonard Connors in 2000. His legislation, signed into law in 1995, brought about sweeping reforms by relieving local governments of onerous State mandates.
Throughout his entire tenure in public service, Senator Leonard Connors was a tireless advocate for senior citizens. He worked to build and lead a broad coalition of local residents to fight against State regulation of senior retirement communities. This was consistent with his longstanding record of protecting seniors’ abilities to remain independent, as Senator Leonard Connors always contended that seniors were far more capable of running their communities than the Trenton bureaucracy.
Following the passing of Senator Leonard Connors, his son and current 9th District Senator Christopher Connors made the following remarks:
“Words cannot express adequately how profoundly saddened I am by the loss of my father, mentor and best friend. My father was a man of large stature, both physically but more importantly in the minds of those who knew him, who possessed a sharp intellect, a tireless work ethic, sound judgment and an unwavering sense of obligation to those who put their trust in him.
“At the same time, I take comfort in the knowledge that my father led a remarkable and fulfilled life and left this world with absolutely no regrets. He was a tremendously successful businessman and highly effective public servant who earned the respect of almost all who knew him. My father will be terribly missed by those who knew him and he will be remembered for who he was: a great man.”
9th District Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, who served with Senator Connors in the State Legislature, made the following remarks:
“Len Connors was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and statesman in every sense of the word. He was also a good friend and mentor whose advice I consistently sought and relied upon in light of his extensive experience and effectiveness in public service.
“Always, Len was guided by a moral compass that put people before politics. He, therefore, never hesitated to cross party lines or disagree with his own party when it meant acting in the best interest of his constituents.
“By being straightforward and responsive, he was able to connect with and earn the trust of so many people. For these and a host of other compelling reasons, Len will always be held in the highest regard by those who had the privilege of knowing him.”
9th District Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove remarked on the time she served with Len Connors as a fellow mayor on Long Beach Island:
“Consistently, Len Connors displayed incredible leadership in bringing people together for the common good. At his core, I always thought of Len as a small town mayor because he genuinely loved his community and believed very strongly that government worked best when it stayed close to the people.
“No constituent matter was ever too small for him to give his personal attention to because behind Len’s tough exterior was a very compassionate man, with a clear sense of right and wrong, who helped people in any way that he could. These noble attributes rightfully earned Len the enduring respect of his colleagues and constituents.
“Unquestionably, Len leaves behind a tremendous legacy of service and kindness that we should all aspire to.”
The funeral mass for Senator Leonard T. Connors, Jr. will be held on Friday, December 9, 2016 at 2 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 4700 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach Township, NJ 08008.