Leonard R. “Lenny” Kaiser, the former mayor of North Arlington, and a fixture in Bergen County politics and government for 34 years died September 11, 2021 after a short illness. He was 73 years old.
Kaiser was elected to the North Arlington Borough Council in 1977 and won election as Mayor in 1983. He went on to win four more consecutive terms; becoming the longest serving mayor in the borough’s history (1983-2002).
In 1985 Kaiser won election to the Bergen County Freeholder Board (now Board of County Commissioners). He ran and won again in 1986 because voters approved a change to the county’s form of government the previous year. In 1987, Kaiser found himself running yet again for freeholder, but lost by a narrow margin.
After serving two years as freeholder, Kaiser was tapped to serve as County Executive Bill McDowell’s Chief of Staff, and was later hired by County Executive William “Pat” Schuber to serve as his aide for municipal and labor relations.
In 2002 Kaiser was picked to serve as a commissioner at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), where he represented South Bergen’s citizenry until 2008. He was hired as Executive Director of the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA), retiring in 2009. During his six-year tenure at the BCUA, he undertook a number of initiatives, including the construction of the Overpeck Valley Relief Sewer, which is one of the largest capital projects in the organization’s history. He also oversaw the construction of a cogeneration power plant. With his retirement from the BCUA, Kaiser ended 34 years of public service.
Kaiser was most devoted – and most proud – of being the Mayor of North Arlington. A graduate of Queen of Peace High School, Kaiser maintained a love for the borough throughout his life. As mayor, his priorities were recreation, senior citizens and tax relief. As a former baseball and basketball coach, Kaiser made sure children had proper playing facilities. He updated playgrounds, carved out new parks and worked with the school board to add gymnasiums to two borough schools. He created the borough’s first Recreation Center to give school children a safe place to go after school. He created a soccer field at Skyline Park, later renamed Zadroga Park, after the son of a former Borough Police Chief who died from complications after responding to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Kaiser was always attentive to needs of senior citizens and brought the Meals-on -Wheels program and paratransit bus service to the borough, along with a senior nutrition site. He created and financed the annual Senior Prom dinner dance for the elderly, and also developed a borough-financed visiting home health care program for seniors.
A strong supporter of community volunteers, Kaiser updated fire-fighting equipment in the borough and adopted an annuity program for the fire-fighters, called Length of Service Awards Program, which would allow them to collect a modest pension.
Born in Jersey City, Kaiser is predeceased by his parents Harry and Edna Kaiser. He is survived by his loving wife Barbara, cherished daughter Amy Coleman (Chris), cherished stepchildren Michael Kraft (Christina) and Cindy Smithlin (Zachary) and five adoring grandchildren: Jack and Kayla Coleman, Cameron Kraft, and Luke and Jared Smithlin. In addition, he is survived by his sister Catherine Quigley, and three nephews.
The Kaiser family is in the care of the Costa Memorial Home,170 Central Avenue, Hasbrouck Heights. (costamemorialhome.com) In lieu of flowers, donations to The W. Cary Edwards Foundation, 6 Mill Brook Lane, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417 are appreciated.