The late Peter J. Biondi was Mr. Hillsborough.
From listening to residents at the Wawa to overseeing the township’s maturation from an awakening rural community to a bustling suburb, Biondi, who served as a township committeeman and mayor, was dedicated to maintaining and improving what he called “The Good Life” in Hillsborough.
That’s was just one of the reasons why on Saturday morning the municipal complex, whose construction he oversaw, was named in his honor.
Before an audience of nearly 200, elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Rep. Leonard Lance, State Senator Kip Bateman, Somerset County freeholders and Hillsborough officials praised Biondi, who died at age 69 in November 2011, just two days after he was elected to his eighth term as an assemblyman in the 16th Legislative District.
The ceremony climaxed when Biondi’s two grandsons cut the red ribbon on the renamed building and Biondi’s widow, Joan, unveiled a new sign at the building’s main entrance.
“Hillsborough will always be close to our hearts,” said an emotional Joan Biondi.
Joan Biondi recalled that the building, which houses township government, board of education, police department, library and senior citizens center, was considered by her husband as “one of his finest accomplishments in office.”
While saying that many called the complex “the world’s ugliest building,” Joan Biondi said it provides a central location of services for the Hillsborough community..
Guadagno, who was serving Saturday as governor because Gov. Chris Christie was out of state, praised Biondi, saying “he gave more to his community than he took.”
She said that every day Biondi woke up wondering “who can I help today and how can I help them?”
Lance, who served in the Assembly with Biondi, said he and Biondi developed a close friendship.
“Whenever I sought advice in the Assembly, Pete was there,” Lance remembered.
After Mike Ferguson decided not to run for re-election to the House of Representatives, Lance said he told his wife that he would run for the office only if Biondi decided not to. In fact, Lance said, he would support Biondi’s candidacy.
Instead, Biondi decided to remain in the Assembly and backed Lance.
“I shall never forget that,” Lance said.
Lance said that Biondi was “fearless in his dedication” to his principles, Hillsborough Township, Somerset County and New Jersey.
“I will forever consider Pete Biondi a brother of mine,” Lance said.
Bateman, who said he met Biondi in 1986 when they were on their respective municipalties’ governing bodies, said that while they once were political rivals, they became friends and spent “literally thousands and thousands of hours together.”
“Of all the titles he had,” Bateman said, “the one he loved the most was mayor of Hillsborough.”
Biondi “dedicated his life to good government,” Bateman said, adding that Biondi was involved in a number of causes, including the Women’s Resource Center, that he did not publicize.
Bateman also recalled how Biondi enjoyed attending community events, like the veterans breakfast and the Neshanic Memorial Day parade.
“People liked Pete,” Bateman said. “Pete was a people person.”
“I know the Biondi’s miss him and we miss him,” Bateman said.
A plaque honor Biondi will be placed in the lobby of the building.
Biondi served on the Township Committee from 1983 to 1993. He served as mayor from 1986 to 1993 and was a Somerset County freeholder before he was elected to the Assembly.