Rahway’s former business administrator dies

Joseph Hartnett

RAHWAY, NJ — Joseph Hartnett was always a Rahway resident at heart. Born May 6, 1948, he attended Saint Mary’s Elementary in Rahway and later took the PATH to St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. Attending Fordham University in New York City, hev earned a degree in public administration from Kean University, where he was later a guest professor. He even attended the Kennedy School of Executive Education at Harvard University in 2022.

After graduating from Kean University, he served four years as an aide to the Rahway Mayor Daniel L. Martin, then becoming the city’s business administrator at the age 26, the youngest person to ever have such a title. Reappointed four times, always by a bipartisan vote from Rahway City Council, he saw many accomplishments while in office, including the first solar-powered municipal complex in the nation. He was recognized by New Jersey’s governor and legislature as one of the top public managers.

On Rahway’s website, a quote reads: “The city of Rahway mourns the passing of former business administrator Joseph Hartnett. His contributions during his time with the city helped shape Rahway as you see it today,” said Mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe.

“While serving as business administrator under Mayor Daniel Martin, Joseph Harnett pushed our city forward and received national recognition for his many feats, most notably building the first solar-powered municipal complex in the nation.

“His dedication to the community has stood the test of time and his mark will forever be felt in Rahway. Our condolences go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Family was very important to Hartnett. Marrying Georgia Howell in 1977, their son Colin was born in 1982. An active parent, including with Little League and the Boy Scouts, he still found time to co-own and operate the popular Jersey Devil Inn on Irving Street in Rahway from 1976 to 1986. In the 1990s, Hartnett was elected president of the Rahway Board of Education. He was also a trustee on what is now known as the Homefirst Interfaith Housing and Family Services in Plainfield.

From 2001 to 2003, Hartnett served as vice president and chief business officer for Saint Peter’s College, now Saint Peter’s University, where he helped guide 51 building projects toward completion. After leaving Saint Peter’s, he was appointed township manager of Montclair, a position he had for six years. During his tenure there, he helped redevelop the blighted Hahnes site and Crescent Street Garage, arranged for the Montclair Volunteer Ambulance Unit to use the Walnut Street Firehouse, supported the Salvation Army’s Cornerstone Shelter and saw the completion of the All Children’s Playground at Edgemont Memorial Park.

Hartnett was especially proud of his New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association Silver Life Member Award and his New Jersey Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association Gold Life Member Award.
In 2010, Hartnett and his wife moved to Normandy Beach, where he formed ETI Management, LLC, which offers municipal consulting services to cities and towns in New Jersey. He also became managing partner of Government Strategies Group in Wall, where he has completed executive placements and intensive management studies to help improve the management and operations of multiple municipalities, including Red Bank, Toms River and Perth Amboy.

Hartnett died on Sunday, Aug. 6, at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife and son, as well as his brother, Michael, and granddaughter, Cecily.