DOVER — Dover’s Business Administrator/Qualified Purchasing Agent and Municipal Clerk John O. Bennett, III, 74, has resigned effective August 19.
In a letter to the Mayor and Members of Board of Aldermen, it stated “Following that date, I will be willing to continue to serve until September 16, 2022, spending two days a week in the office and using my accumulated vacation/sick time for the remaining three days.”
He is also willing to assist in finding a replacement for his positions and will help with any necessary transition. In the event they find someone sooner than the days listed, he will leave when his replacement is in place.
When Christie Whitman resigned as governor to head the federal EPA, that made Senate President Donald DiFrancesco the governor, but his Senate term ended a few days before the gubernatorial term he was filling. So, Bennett, who was the new Republican Senate leader, was governor for a few days before Jim McGreevey’s term began in the middle of January, 2002.
Bennett has held a number of municipal administrative and attorney jobs around the state.
On Thursday, September 10, 2020 Bennett was hired as Dover’s interim administrator. At the time, Mayor Blackman said “We were very lucky to have found Mr. Bennett,” noting the former governor’s extensive experience. She said Bennett probably would serve for nine months – enough time for the town to find a permanent administrator. Bennett will be paid $127,500 for a nine-month contract, which could be terminated early if the town finds a permanent replacement before June 2021. His appointment was made permanent in April 2021.
At the time Bennett has been unemployed since January 2020, when he was let go from his post as the business administrator in Woodbridge.
Once one of New Jersey’s most powerful politicians, Bennett had served a decade in the State Assembly before winning a 1989 special election for State Senate. He served as Senate Majority Leader from 1994 to 2002.
After Democrats and Republicans each won 20 seats in the 2001 general election, Bennett and Richard Codey (D-Roseland) became the co-Senate Presidents.
Throughout the 2003 campaign, Bennett faced a seemingly daily barrage of media attention – mostly from the local Asbury Park Press newspaper – attacking Bennett’s ethics and allegations that he over-billed municipalities that he represented as an attorney.
Held to 59% in the Republican primary, Bennett then lost the general election to Democrat Ellen Karcher by 4,574 votes. His 42.5% of the vote reflected in a drop of 16 percentage points from his 2001 total.
Bennett became the first sitting Senate President to lose his own seat in at least 100 years.