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Center on the American Governor > Video Library > Individual Interviews > Interview with Patricia “Pat” Sheehan

Interview with Patricia “Pat” Sheehan

Patricia “Pat” Sheehan was elected to two terms as mayor of New Brunswick, serving from 1967 to 1974. She had moved to New Brunswick a decade earlier, when her husband Daniel was appointed to fill an unexpired term as city commissioner. The couple had met in Washington DC while she was was a student at Trinity College and he was at Georgetown Law School. Six months after relocating to New Brunswick, her husband died after contracting encephalitis, leaving her as a widow with three children under the age of 4. She went to work in the personnel department at Johnson & Johnson and was gradually drawn into local politics. In 1967, she headed a reform ticket, the New Five, that unseated the city administration that had governed for the 27 previous years. During the summer of 1967, which saw civil unrest in Newark, Plainfield and Asbury Park, she was praised for keeping New Brunswick from erupting in violence by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission, which cited her leadership as “decisive in avoiding a major confrontation.” In 1974, she resigned as mayor to accept appointment by Governor Brendan Byrne as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. She later was named as executive director of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission. In 1980, she returned to Johnson & Johnson to work in community relations until her retirement. Her daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy) Sheehan Garlatti, is currently President of the New Brunswick City Council and served as a policy adviser to Governor James Florio.


Interview on July 5, 2006Transcript available here (pdf)