First Black Mayor of Mount Holly Eugene Stafford – April 28, 1935 – July 16, 2023

“Mount Holly has lost a legend with the passing of Chief Stafford” said current Mount Holly Mayor Chris Banks. “Mr. Stafford’s legacy will live forever and his commitment to our community will never be forgotten” continued Banks. “I will never forget his kindness and the time he took to mentor me as a Councilman and now Mayor.”

Gene Stafford was a man of many firsts. In 1959 he became the first black police officer in Mount Holly Township. He would go on to have a successful career holding every rank in the department and becoming one of the first black police chiefs in New Jersey in 1973.

Retiring in 1984 after 25 years of service with the Police Department, Stafford then ran for Mount Holly Township Council in 1986.  In a crowded field of 11 candidates for 5 seats Stafford would receive the highest number of votes outpacing the next candidate by almost 200 votes. He also carried his slate to victory besting the slate of incumbents 3 to 1 in votes received. When he took office in July 1986 he was selected by his peers to serve as Deputy Mayor then became Mayor in 1987 making him the first black mayor in Mount Holly’s history.

In January 1987 Gene was appointed to the Burlington County Board of Freeholders and sworn in by Governor Tom Kean. In November 1987 he was elected to a full term as Freeholder making him the first African American ever elected to a County office in Burlington County.

Gene was a proud graduate of Rancocas Valley Region High School class of 1953. At RV he played football, basketball and ran track. Gene was a track star and would later be inducted into the Burlington County Athletic Hall of Fame.

Gene was a member of Relief Fire Company #1 in Mount Holly and earned exempt firefighter status with the NJ State Firemen’s Association. Gene also served a term on the Mount Holly Board of Education.

After retiring from the police department Gene served as Director of Security at Memorial Hospital of Burlington County (Virtua Mount Holly).

At the time of his death Gene served as Deacon, Trustee and Business Administrator of the Second Baptist Church in Mount Holly. He was a proud parishioner of the church which his family helped found in 1906.

Gene is survived by his wife Joyce and five siblings; Harold, Warren, Joan, Earl and Carol.

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5 responses to “First Black Mayor of Mount Holly Eugene Stafford – April 28, 1935 – July 16, 2023”

  1. AWSOME Black history for New Jerseians !!!
    I didn’t know that myself and I’m was born and raised in and raised in South jersey!! Yes!! I will always before ever a jersey girl!! Rest in peace 🙏🏾 to the former mayor.

  2. Mr.Stafford was a role model to me. Also took time to Speak with u or give u a word of council. On a time where we were looming for a hero, we had p e in him. Many of the success I have in my life is because of his caring g and sharing

  3. Mr. Stafford was a hero in so many different aspects and arenas . His time At Westampton Middle School was marked with genuine kindness and care for the students and staff ( and their families ) alike . He was a pillar in the community as well as in the lives of those he touched . Mr. Stafford will greatly be missed .

  4. This trailblazer was well-regarded by everyone. As noted he was the first for many positions. He rose up the police force ranks because he was a good officer who earned the promotions. I have family in Mount Holly from 1958 to today. I ask that BURLINGTON COUNTY and/or MOUNT HOLLY honor this fine public service by naming a significant facility, complex, or major county road after Eugene (Gene). Stafford

  5. I attended westampton middle school .
    He was truly so kind to the students , and so very patient with us. I’m 37 now , and feel truly blessed to know him during my youth.

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