Many politicians spend their time in front of the cameras, always jockeying for position, hoping to be seen.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it’s part of human nature to crave attention.
But for politics to work well, you need people who like doing what they’re doing simply because they like doing it.
Mary Pierson, who recently passed just a few weeks shy of 100, was one such political person.
Time moves on and new faces pop into the political scrum. Some are not all that attuned to history.
But talk to Morris County Republicans with a few years under their belts and they will tell you about Mary Pierson.
She was a lifelong resident of Netcong, a pretty small town in the western part of the county.
But through a career that began in the 1950s, she established herself as your quintessential “mover and shaker,” first in the borough and later throughout the county.
This was harder then than it is now. Women in many ways were not welcome in politics back when Pierson’s career began, but she persevered. And then some.
She made it to chair of the Netcong Republican Committee and held the job for more than 50 years.
Pierson passed in late 2019, but the soon to happen pandemic delayed any memorial until this month.
And so it was that on July 8, a “celebration of life” was held for Pierson. The evening began with a reception at the local VFW and continued with presentations at the council meeting.
It was Mayor Joe Nametko who remarked that when he initially contemplated a run for mayor, he was told to go see “Mary.”
The point was clear; without her support, Nametko’s career wasn’t going anywhere.
Many Republicans told similar stories.
State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn from LD-25 were on hand.
As was one-time Assemblyman Richard Kamin, who once employed Pierson in his legislative office.
Former Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who seldom appears at any public event these days, made it to this one.
There were many official honors for Pierson.
Resolutions of gratitude to Pierson have been passed by both the state Legislature and the Morris County Commissioners. The street in Netcong where she was born, Allen Street, was re-named Mary Pierson Way a few years before her death.
All that was very nice.
But in more simple terms, Mary Pierson’s life in politics was spoken about, not as a quest for power, but as a desire to serve the public.
A life worth celebrating indeed.