Ralph R. Caputo

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Ralph R. Caputo
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 28th district
Assumed office
January 8, 2008
Serving with Cleopatra Tucker
Preceded byCraig A. Stanley
Oadline Truitt
Essex County Freeholder from District 5
In office
January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2011
Preceded byJoseph P. Scarpelli
Succeeded byBrendan W. Gill
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 11-C district
In office
January 9, 1968 – January 11, 1972
Serving with C. Richard Fiore
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byCarl Orechio
John N. Dennis
Personal details
Born (1940-10-31) October 31, 1940 (age 78)
Political partyDemocratic
(formerly Republican)
ResidenceNutley, New Jersey (since 2011)
Belleville, New Jersey (before 2011)
Alma materBloomfield College
Newark State College
Seton Hall University
WebsiteAssemblyman Caputo's legislative webpage

Ralph R. Caputo (born October 31, 1940) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has served in the New Jersey General Assembly since January 8, 2008, where he represents the 28th Legislative District. He had previously served on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 2003 to 2011 and as a Republican in the General Assembly from 1968 until 1972.[1]


Caputo received a B.A. from Bloomfield College with a major in history and education, and was awarded a M.A. from Seton Hall University in Educational Administration.[1] He also attended Newark State College (now Kean University) and received a graduate certification (Supervisor) in education. After college, he began his career as an elementary school teacher in Newark.[2] Between his stints in elected office, he was an urban education specialist for the State Department of Education, an advisor to the State Commissioner of Education, and a northern area chief for the Title 1 Office, he served as a superintendent for Essex County schools, an assistant superintendent of Essex County Vocational Technical Schools, and an associate superintendent for the Orange Board of Education. Beginning in 1983, he worked as a marketing executive for Atlantic City casinos Trump Castle Hotel and Casino, the Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City, and the Showboat Atlantic City.[2]

Formerly a long-time resident of Belleville, he is now a resident of Nutley, he is married to Celeste and has two grown children.[3]

Political career[edit]

Caputo along with C. Richard Fiore were elected as Republicans to the State Assembly in 1967, defeating Eugene Molinaro and Warren Davis in the Republican primary and Democratic incumbents Armand Lembo and Joseph Biancardi.[4] At the time of his election at age 27, he was the youngest person ever elected to the State Legislature,[3] they represented Essex County's District 11-C, a new district created in 1967 following the elimination of countywide at-large Assembly districts. Caputo and Fiore were re-elected in 1969 against Democrats Carmen Orechio and Joseph Iannuzzi.[5] During his first two terms in the Assembly, Caputo advocated for the construction of a casino in Newark.[6] Caputo lost the backing of the Essex County Republican organization when he ran for a third term in 1971, and lost the GOP primary to Carl Orechio and John N. Dennis.[7]

In 2002, Caputo mounted a political comeback by running for a seat on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from District 5 consisting of Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair, and Nutley.[8] Running as a Democrat, he defeated incumbent Republican Freeholder Joseph P. Scarpelli.[9] During his tenure on the Freeholder board, he reached the position of Vice President of the board,[1][10] he would be re-elected to two-more three-year terms until he retired from the board in 2011 citing the difficulties of holding two elected offices serving almost two different constituencies.[11]

In December 2005, following the death of 28th District Assemblyman Donald Kofi Tucker, Caputo sought the nomination of being appointed to the vacant seat by the local county Democratic committee, he lost the convention vote 73%-27% to Evelyn Williams.[12] In 2007, Caputo along with Tucker's widow Cleopatra ran in the Democratic primary for the same Assembly seat. With the backing of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Caputo and Tucker defeated incumbents Craig A. Stanley and Oadline Truitt in the primary.[13][14] In the run-up to the general election, opponents used old articles from the 1960s and 70s to tie Caputo to controversial Newark activist Anthony Imperiale. Caputo stated that he never supported Imperiale's positions.[15] Upon Caputo's win in the general election, he returned to the Assembly after a 36-year gap, the second-longest gap in the state's history.

From 2008 to 2011, Caputo simultaneously held his seat in the New Jersey General Assembly and as Freeholder; this dual position, often called double dipping, was allowed under a grandfather clause in the state law enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine in September 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.[16]

Caputo serves on the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee as chairman, the Education Committee, and the Joint Committee on the Public Schools;[1] as he did during his first stint in the Assembly, he remains a proponent for the establishment of a casino in North Jersey.[11]

He would be easily re-elected to a fourth two-year term in 2009 but would face an unusual difficulty in 2011. After Belleville was removed from the 28th District in the 2011 legislative redistricting, Caputo moved to Nutley, New Jersey in order to seek reelection in the 28th District;[17] the move led incumbent 36th District Assemblyman Kevin J. Ryan to retire from the Assembly as he too is a resident of Nutley.[18]

Caputo draws both a pension for his career in education and another for his many years in the state legislature. At the same time, he also draws a salary as a sitting legislator; this is a legal practice in New Jersey often referred to as "double dipping."[19]

District 28[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly; the other representatives from the 28th District for the 2014–2015 Legislative Session are:[20]


  1. ^ a b c d Assemblyman Caputo's legislative webpage, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed September 20, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Duthie, J. (January 8, 2008). "Assembly Democrats: 12 new Democratic Assembly members take oaths of office". Politicker NJ. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo Bio Page". NJ Assembly Majority Office. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "1967 General Election Results" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  5. ^ "Results of the General Election held November 4, 1969" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. p. 7. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  6. ^ Byrne, Brendan; Linky, Donald (2014). The Man Who Couldn't Be Bought. Farleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 181. Retrieved September 20, 2015. Two years before the Dumont Commission's report, Republican Assemblyman Ralph Caputo of Essex County sponsored a proposal for casinos in both Atlantic City and Newark, which was struggling to recover from the 1967 riots.
  7. ^ "1971 General Election Results" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  8. ^ "Breakdown of Freeholder Districts". Essex County. Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  9. ^ Moore, Elizabeth (October 27, 2002). "Essex County: Freeholder Race". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved September 20, 2015. Democratic district freeholder candidates include ... Ralph Caputo, a former two-term state assemblyman, who is expected to make a strong challenge to unseat Scarpelli in District 5.
  10. ^ Freeholder Vice President / District 5, Ralph R. Caputo, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed February 13, 2008.
  11. ^ a b Karidis, Maria (March 25, 2011). "Caputo will not seek reelection as Essex freeholder". Belleville Times. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  12. ^ "Donald Tucker's replacement". Politicker NJ. November 15, 2005. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  13. ^ "Official List Candidate Returns for General Assembly For June 2007 Primary Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. July 20, 2007. p. 28. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Gillespie, Andra (2012). The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America. New York University Press. p. 199. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Friedman, Matt (December 14, 2007). "Forty years after his first win, Caputo set to return to Legislature". Politicker NJ. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  16. ^ via Associated Press. "N.J. Lawmakers keep double dipping", WPVI-TV, March 4, 2008. Accessed June 4, 2009.
  17. ^ Milo, Paul. "Report: Caputo Bidding Adieu to Belleville; Redistricting Compelling Move, Assemblyman Says", Belleville Patch, April 8, 2011. Accessed December 22, 2014. "There's been another development in what is proving to be an eventful week in local politics: Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is leaving Belleville and relocating to Nutley, where he plans to seek re-election from the 28th District, according to a published report."
  18. ^ Frankel, Jeff (April 8, 2011). "Ryan will step aside for Caputo in 28th district". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Legislative Roster 2014-2015 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed December 22, 2014.

External links[edit]

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
Craig A. Stanley
Oadline Truitt
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly for the 28th District
January 8, 2008 – present
With: Cleopatra Tucker
Succeeded by
Preceded by
District created
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly for District 11-C
January 9, 1968 – January 11, 1972
With: C. Richard Fiore
Succeeded by
Carl Orechio
John N. Dennis
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph P. Scarpelli
Essex County Freeholder from District 5
January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2011
Succeeded by
Brendan W. Gill