BAYONNE, NJ - The Bayonne City Council voted to confirm Melissa Mathews to serve as the city’s first woman business administrator, replacing Terrence Malloy will be retiring at the end of April.
Malloy has served in Bayonne government for 38 years.
The Wednesday vote was unanimous although administration critic Peter Franco raised questions about this appointment being one of a number of “political appointments made to top positions in the Davis Administration."
In a statement issued later, Mayor Jimmy Davis praised Mathews, saying that she is highly qualified for the position.
“She has excellent educational credentials and experience in planning and zoning, investment banking, technology, non-profit organizations, and community activities,” Davis said. “I am very proud to appoint her as the first woman to serve as Business Administrator for the City of Bayonne.”
Mathews studied at Columbia University in Manhattan, where she earned a degree in Political Science with a focus in Economic Development. Her coursework included classes in Economics, American Political Structures, welfare systems, inner city politics, game theory, Philosophy, French, Media, and Creative Writing. She studied abroad for a semester at the University of Ghana in West Africa. While there, she specialized in Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. She took additional courses in Local Governance, Political Sector Reforms, African History, and African Philosophy.
Born and raised in California, Mathews worked full time for Apple Computers and Adobe Systems on operating system and software development while attending community college, before transferred to Columbia.
For five years, Mathews worked in investment banking as an Equity Research Assistant at Citigroup and Credit Suisse. She wrote research reports, maintained financial models, and worked directly with research analysts and management on economic sectors and individual stocks.
“I worked in investment banking and hedge funds until my oldest son was born,” she said on her website. “Five years ago, my husband and I left New York looking for a place to settle. We did not know much about Bayonne, but we gave it a shot. Instantly we fell in love with the city, the people and the parks. While we were not a part of building this amazing city, we want to be part of what will be its amazing future.”
She established the Mathews Foundation, which has sponsored various educational and community projects in Bayonne. Her foundation started sign language classes at the Bayonne Public Library.
Mathews serves as Co-President of Grow Bayonne, a community gardening program, and is currently working with the Bayonne Department of Public Works on the layout and design of a large community garden. She is also working with members of the Board of Education on developing a gardening-related curriculum.
No stranger to city hall, Mathews has worked for the City of Bayonne for a year on the staff of the Planning and Zoning Division. She worked directly with the Zoning Officer on reviewing permit applications, issuing permits and denials, and performing inspections. During this time she has streamlined zoning information into understandable packets to assist the public in navigating frequently encountered zoning issues.
Franco and Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski traded several questions and answers including his wondering whether the position had been posted for others to see and assertion that, considering Mathew’s recent run for Board of Education, there was a pattern for securing employment.
To these Ashe-Nadrowski responded that Mathews was promoted from within city hall and that her job in city hall preceded her running for office, offering her conclusion that she is more than qualified for the position.
“Her credentials are impeccable,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “There have been no complaints about her, and she has good people skills.” Councilman Gary LaPelusa also offered praise for the hiring saying that Mathews has been very helpful to him during her time of employment with the city.
Law Director Jay Coffey said appointments of political people to top positions are not uncommon.
“This is a choice of the mayor in seeking to have the people he trusts most to provide him with the advice he needs,” Coffey said, conceding the point to Franco that Davis has a close relative serving as chief of staff.
“This makes sense. This is a person that the mayor relies on most,” Coffey said. “What better person to have as your chief of staff than a member of your family.”
Coffey said Mathews has worked in city hall and has won the trust of people she has worked with.
Malloy said not everybody hired in the administration has political collections.
There is no sleight of hand here,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.
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