Trenton, NJ —- New Jersey State Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer, 73, a 20-year veteran legislator and son of harness racing Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer, has died after a long illness.
Mr. Dancer, who grew up in one of the country’s most significant harness racing families, was a trainer and driver of Standardbreds for 30 years, following in the footsteps of his world-renowned father, in New Egypt, N.J., home of their famous Egyptian Acres Farm.
One year when his father was seriously injured in a racing accident, Mr. Dancer took on more driving duties, becoming the top driver at Liberty Bell Park in Philadelphia for that season.
He went into public service, elected as mayor of Plumsted Township, serving from 1990 to 2011, and the Township’s Planning Board from 1983 to 2019. He went on to become a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, appointed to an unexpired term and then re-elected 10 times.
Previously he served as a member of the New Jersey Racing Commission and the New Jersey Sire Stakes Board of Trustees and as a vice president and director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.
His mother, Rachel Dancer, was the owner or co-owner of many of the champion Standardbreds trained by his father.
Mr. Dancer’s legislative career focused on agriculture, horse racing, veterans’ affairs and tourism. The Republican lawmaker represented Assembly District 12, which included parts of Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Burlington Counties.
In January, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a Dancer-sponsored law that requires horse racing tracks that host sports betting to hold at least 151 racing dates.
Last year, the Rutgers Equine Science Center awarded its “Spirit of the Horse” award to Mr. Dancer for his work to help the industry, citing his legislation to allow the state to lease Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack to the private sector, as well as his legislation to dedicate revenue from sports wagering to horse racing purses.
Statement from Governor Murphy on the Passing of Assemblyman Ron Dancer:
“Tammy and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Assemblyman Ron Dancer. True to his roots in one of New Jersey’s storied equestrian racing families, in public service he was a work horse not a show horse. A proud veteran with a quiet demeanor and humble nature, Ron built friendships across the aisle. His focus on New Jersey’s agricultural, horse racing, and tourist industries, and our honored military veterans, leaves a lasting legacy. Our state flags will be lowered to half-staff in his honor and memory. His wife, Brenda, their children and grandchildren, and the entire Dancer family are in all of our thoughts this weekend.”