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Gary Steven Schaer (born September 11, 1951) is an American Democratic Party politician who serves in the New Jersey General Assembly where he represents the 36th Legislative District. He took office on January 10, 2006, and remains on the Passaic, New Jersey City Council where he is the council president. Schaer is the first Orthodox Jew in the New Jersey Legislature. Currently serving as a deputy speaker, and as Chairman of the important Budget Committee, Schaer is one of the highest-ranking members of the Assembly.


Schaer grew up in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey.[1] He attended American University, majoring in political science.[2]

Schaer has served on the Passaic City Council since 1995, including being the Council President off-and-on since 1997.[3][4] He has been a Director of Passaic's Urban Enterprise Zone since 2002. He served as a Commissioner on the Board of Education for the Passaic County Technical Institute from 1999 to 2003 and was a Commissioner on the Passaic Housing Authority from 1992 to 1996.[2]

Schaer unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Passaic in 1997 finishing behind incumbent Margie Semler and councilman Samuel Rivera.[5] In May 2008, Schaer became the acting mayor of Passaic upon the resignation of Rivera, who had won election to the office in 2001, as a result of Rivera pleading guilty on corruption charges.[6] Though he considered running for the remainder of the term, Schaer declined to seek election to the unexpired term and was succeeded by Alex Blanco.[7]

He is a Trustee of St. Mary's Hospital. Schaer has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. He is an Investment Consultant and Vice President at Ryan Beck & Company.[2] A resident of Passaic, he is married to Donna and has three children.[4]

Legislative career

Schaer was elected to the Assembly on November 8, 2005, and took the seat of Republican Paul DiGaetano, who did not run for re-election and had held the seat in the Assembly continuously since 1992.[8] Schaer unofficially represents the Passaic County portion of the 36th District, a district consisting of only the City of Passaic in Passaic County in the 2001 and 2011 apportionments and Bergen County (Nutley in Essex County was a part of the district in the 2001 apportionment); his predecessor DiGaetano is also a resident of Passaic. District leaders attempt to provide geographic balance when picking candidates here.[9]

Schaer is the first Orthodox Jew to serve in the New Jersey Legislature. In situations in which the legislature is in session on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, when the dictates of his Orthodox Jewish faith prohibit him from participating in forbidden forms of work, he has appointed an aide to cast a ballot on his behalf, a policy permitted by the Assembly's rules, as long as the legislator is in the building.[1]

Since 2014, Schaer has been the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. He is also a member of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee (as Co-Chair), the Appropriations Committee, and the Higher Education Committee. He holds the Deputy Speaker leadership position in the Assembly, a position he has held since 2012.[2]

District 36

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 36th District for the 2016–2017 Legislative Session are:[10]


  1. ^ a b Chadwick, John. "Orthodox Jew strives to keep the faith", The Record (Bergen County), July 5, 2007. Accessed July 6, 2007. "Assemblyman Gary Schaer was nowhere to be seen as lawmakers gathered in the wee hours of a Saturday morning for a critical budget vote.... The reason for Schaer's disappearing act was simple. He's an Orthodox Jew -- the first one in the New Jersey Legislature -- and can't work on the Jewish Sabbath."[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d Assemblyman Schaer's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed September 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Rojas, Diana (May 10, 1995). "Passaic Bounces 4 Council Incumbents". The Record. Retrieved September 25, 2015. Of the 16 candidates vying for four council seats, Chaim Munk was the highest vote-getter, with 2,044. He was followed by Benni Jakubovic, with 1,987 votes, and Gary Schaer, with 1,927. Magnus Ellen was fourth with 1,792 votes. 
  4. ^ a b McInerney, K. (January 11, 2006). "Eight New Democratic Assembly Members Take Oaths of Office". Politicker NJ. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  5. ^ Kraut, Dan (February 24, 2000). "City Councilman Gets Jump on Mayoral Race". The Record. Retrieved September 25, 2015. (subscription required (help)). In 1997, Rivera came in second to Mayor Margie Semler by 264 votes... [o]ther possible candidates are Councilman Gary Schaer, who finished third in 1997... 
  6. ^ Mandell, Meredith (May 10, 2008). "Another corrupt N.J. politician bites the dust". The Record. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ Pizarro, Max (July 27, 2008). "Schaer weighs mayoral run in Passaic". Politicker NJ. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ Ortiz, Erik (March 4, 2005). "Democrats make surprise selection for 36th District". The Record. Retrieved April 3, 2008. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ Pizarro, Max (November 30, 2010). "36th District conflagration: Sarlo defends Nutley seat". Politicker NJ. Retrieved September 25, 2015. At least that was partly the argument in the room against Sarlo, who defended the tri-county configuration and an agreement he had with the county executive to keep a Nutley rep. 
  10. ^ Legislative Roster 2016-2017 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed October 29, 2012.

External links

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
Paul DiGaetano
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly for the 36th District
January 10, 2006 – present
With: Frederick Scalera, Kevin J. Ryan, Marlene Caride
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel Rivera
Acting Mayor of Passaic, New Jersey
May 5, 2008 – November 2008
Succeeded by
Alex Blanco