Richard Coffee was a Senator, Assistant Minority Leader of the Senate and chair of the Mercer County Democratic Committee who withdrew as a candidate in the 1973 Democratic gubernatorial primary to endorse Brendan Byrne. He chaired the Byrne 1973 and 1977 campaigns and was elected with the Governor's support as chair of the State Democratic Committee. He served 17 years as Executive Director of the General Assembly Democratic Office. In 1957, he was elected for the first time as Mayor of Lawrence Township, and later served as a Mercer County freeholder for 12 years. As director of the Board of Freeholders, he successfully advocated the creation of Mercer County Community College, the County Vocational-Technical School System, the Mercer County Improvement Authority, the development of Mercer County Airport and the County Park Commission. In 2009, the largest County park was renamed Richard J. Coffee Mercer County Park in his honor.