After 28 years in office, Woodbridge Fifth Ward Councilman Bob Luban announced he won't seeking reelection after his term expires at the end of this year.
But Luban isn't retiring from politics.
The announcement of his retirement from town council coincided with another bit of news: Luban will be seeking to run on the Republican ticket for the 19th District State Senate seat.
"With all my years in government, I know how to get things done," Luban said.
"I'm going to do the same thorough job for the people of the 19th District as I've done for my constituents in Colonia."
If Luban garners the Republican nod at the county convention next month, he'll be facing long term incumbent State Senator Joseph Vitale, a Democrat.
One thing Luban said he knows, and that's how to take care of quality of life issues.
"It's why I was reelected over and over again," he said. "I'm the longest serving councilman in the history of Woodbridge."
'Luban makes the difference'
Luban's reputation for solving problems is so widespread, the Colonia councilman gets calls from residents all over the township, even those outside his ward. The one slogan he's used in his reelection campaigns for 28 years - 'Working for you....Councilman Bob Luban makes the difference' - he's never changed.
"I like it because it's true. I get things done. People know that. They know if they call me, they'll get a response from me. They get a call back.
"I've always been square with them. If I can't resolve their issue, I tell them. Word gets out when there's a politician who says what he'll do and then does it," he said.
Luban, who said he passed more ordinances than most council members, is proud of his long record of quiet, substantial achievements.
He authored ordinances that dealt with graffiti, parking, barking dogs, property maintenance codes, and other issues that impact the lives of township residents.
Because of his leadership, he said, builders were forced to erect buildings an additional 25 feet away from stream banks. New home builders who didn't want to install sidewalks were allowed to do so with council approval. Luban added an ordinance that required them to pay a percentage of that fee into a township fund.
That money is now used to repair sidewalks and curbs throughout the township, he said.
Because of the councilman, you can't leave a barking dog outside after 10 pm. He also added an ordinance that requires users of movable pods to get permits to have the trailer-type structures on their property.
"That's to make sure that someone doesn't rent one and plop it on their front lawn for six months or more," Luban said.
Other Luban achievements go beyond local bread-and-butter laws.
Authored Megan's Law before the state enacted it
One that he's most proud of is the Woodbridge version of Megan's Law. "We had that before the state enacted it. We were the first to do it," he said.
Luban also fought a plan that would have situated entrances and exits to the Parkway in Colonia.
"I fought Clark Township and the Parkway on that. We won," he said with a smile.
Ninety percent of a councilman's job "is resolving issues. We have to evalate problems and see if it's something that township should get involved in," he said.
Marriage and political partnership
The person who shares his workload is his wife, Lorraine, who is a member of the township Planning Board and vice chairwoman of the local Republican organization.
"Remember being a councilman is a part time job. When I was at work, Lorraine would take calls and get the ball rolling," Luban said. "She's my partner in all of this."
The couple has been married for 43 years, almost the entire amount of time they've lived in Colonia. The Lubans have two grown daughters and six grandchildren. Both girls attended Woodbridge parochial and public schools, he said.
The family attends St John Vianney Church, and Luban is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
In his political career, Luban has served on the state Council on Affordable Housing, the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, the Middlesex County Economic Opportunities Corporation and the Woodbridge Planning Board. He still sits as a commission at the Rahway Valley Sewage Authority.
Luban has spent most of his political life as a Republican, but he changed parties twice. Both times, he said, was because of fiscal disagreements with local officials.
Hopes to work with Gov. Christie
"I'm a fiscal conservative. I care about money and how it's spent, and if we can afford what we're spending it on."
Fiscal responsibility is a passion he shares with Gov. Chris Christie. "I've attended his town meetings. The governor strikes a chord with me."
The councilman said he agrees with Christie's positions on fiscal matters. "He says what should be important and he's devoted to getting the state on track, to avoid the economic woes caused by overspending," Luban said. "We are in complete agreement on that.
In terms of Woodbridge, only former Council Vinnie Martino has beaten Luban in longevity. When he turns 70 this year, Luban will also hit another milestone: he'll have been the oldest councilman in the body's history.
"Age is only a number," Luban said. "I've never, in my recollection, ever missed a critical vote on the council or any other body I've been on.
"I'm fit and healthy, and I can't wait for the next challenge in my political career, representing constituents in the 19tth district as their state senator."