Former Bloomfield teacher and president of BPU, dies at 78

Board of Public Utilities Joe Fiordaliso Edwin J. Torres/ Governor’s Office.

Joseph L. Fiordaliso, an Essex County native who taught at Bloomfield High School and went on to serve several governors and become president of the state Board of Public Utilities, has died. He was 78.

Born and raised in the Ironbound section of Newark, Fiordaliso earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Montclair State in 1967.

He later completed graduate and management courses at Montclair State and Rutgers University.

From 1967 to 1986, he was an educator at Vailsburg High School and Bloomfield High School, and an adjunct professor of accounting at County College of Morris for 12 years.

In 1988, Joseph was elected to the Livingston Township Council and served for three terms, and was elected mayor three times during his tenure.

“Joe was a stalwart in Essex County for decades, starting his career as a teacher before moving into politics and public policy,” Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz said in a statement.

“Even when he rose to a cabinet level position, he never lost sight of the struggles and needs of New Jersey’s most vulnerable families. Joe was instrumental in efforts to expand access to broadband and understood that clean energy initiatives only work if they work for everyone.”

In 1990, he was appointed by the Essex County executive to serve as the director of planning and economic development and was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Livingston Chapter of Unico National in 2003. He worked with the Democratic State Committee and served as district director for then Senate President Richard Codey.
Fiordaliso was named deputy chief of staff in Codey’s office in November of 2004.

“I will always remember one of the biggest moments in both of our lives,” Codey said in a statement. “It was August of 2004 and Gov. (James) McGreevey stunned everyone with his announcement he was stepping down. For me, it meant I was to become governor. And for Joe, it meant he was about to become one of my top lieutenants and most trusted advisors.

“We got on the phone and I told him I needed him ASAP. There was only one problem: Joe and his wife, Marilyn, were vacationing somewhere on an island. Getting a flight was a problem, but Joe found a way. To this day, I’ll never know how he got back to New Jersey as quickly as he did. But that was Joe in a nutshell. He found a way.

He always found a way.”

Fiordaliso was nominated by Codey in 2005 to be a commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

He was confirmed by the Senate and then re-nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to continue as a commissioner.

In January 2018, he was appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy to serve as president of the NJBPU and became a member of Murphy’s cabinet.

He was point man on Murphy’s clean energy agenda, which has been described as one of the most ambitious in the nation.

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said Fiordaliso was a passionate advocate for clean energy, and the embodiment of a public servant.

“He was also one of the kindest and most decent people you’ll ever meet — and pretty funny, too,” Platkin said. “From his longstanding place as a commissioner on the Board of Public Utilities — with bipartisan support — to his elevation as president in 2018, Joe never stopped looking for ways to make life better for New Jerseyans. No matter what issues arose — from hurricanes to complex policy debates about clean energy — he never shied away from a challenge, and he handled them all with a class and grace that is sadly all too rare today.”

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said Fiordaliso. was a kind and thoughtful man, who will be sorely missed.

“His career-long commitment to public service has improved the quality of life for many across the Garden State,” LaTourette said. “In policymaking, he was always guided by the simple principle we all say we live by: make our state and planet safer, more secure, and productive for our children and grandchildren.”
Fiordaliso was married to Marilyn (Morey) Fiordaliso. They lived in Livingston and have two children and five grandchildren.

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that U.S. and New Jersey flags fly at half-staff on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and Thursday, Sept. 14, in Fiordaliso’s honor.
The flag lowering coincides with Fiordaliso’s funeral services in Trenton and Livingston.

“For more than three decades, Joe exemplified the finest characteristics of a public servant in New Jersey: selflessly dedicated to the welfare of his local community, fiercely committed to his ideals, and endlessly hopeful for the future of our state,” Murphy said. “These qualities were on display no more conspicuously than in his leadership of my Administration’s clean energy agenda, which Joe viewed as critical to fostering a more sustainable and healthier state that his children and grandchildren would one day inherit.”