Issue One Remembers the Life of Reformer William “Bill” J. Hughes

Issue One gives its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of former Ambassador and Congressman William J. Hughes. Ambassador Hughes was an important member of our ReFormers Caucus, a bipartisan coalition composed of 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials advocating for solutions to fix our broken political system. He passed away on Wednesday, October 30 at the age of 87

Ambassador Hughes served New Jersey’s 2nd district for two decades between 1975 and 1995. During his time in Congress, he displayed a broad knowledge on issues ranging from criminal justice to environmental protection as well as a consistent willingness to work across the aisle. From 1981 to 1990, Hughes chaired the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime where he reigned in corruption and defended intellectual property rights. His subcommittee also passed landmark bipartisan firearms legislation which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1986 and 1988. 

In addition to this, Hughes was a noted advocate for Southern New Jersey’s coastline, sponsoring a ban on the dumping of harmful sewage and chemical waste that was signed into law by President Carter in 1977. He also worked with both Republicans and Democrats to establish a natural preserve in his state’s Pinelands region.

On June 2, 1995, President Clinton nominated Hughes as the United States Ambassador to Panama. There he was able to continue his work on criminal justice; leading nationwide counter-narcotics efforts.  Ambassador Hughes was also in charge of the ultimately successful transition of the Panama Canal to domestic control.

Prior to his time in Congress, Hughes served as a prosecutor for Cape May County and was well-known for his community service contributions to his local area. He was lauded by many for his efforts to preserve the Cape May coastline and was beloved by law enforcement for his support of legislation that protected their lives.

Ambassador Hughes is survived by his four children, 10 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. He will be missed by all of us here at Issue One and we hope his legacy of crafting bipartisan solutions to solve important issues will live on.