EAST ORANGE, NJ — “When you serve in elected office, you serve to represent the people, their interests and the greater good of the community,” said Christopher D. James, Chairman of the East Orange City Council.  “Councilwoman Quilla Talmadge and Councilwoman Jacquelyn Johnson, have served the people of East Orange for nearly 50 years, doing so with distinction, with honor and with determination – they are trailblazers, who led the way for others to follow. It is on their shoulders all of us stand today.  Thank you to both of them for all they have done for the people of East Orange.” 

When Quilla Talmadge was elected in 1990, it was the same year Nelson Mandela was released from prison and Margaret Thatcher resigned as British Prime Minister.  This was the year Quilla Talmadge was sworn into office for the first time.  

Councilwoman Talmadge was sworn into office for her first term on January 1, 1990 and chaired the legislative body in 1992. From October 1992 to January 1994, Councilwoman Talmadge served as a member of the New Jersey State Assembly completing the unexpired term of former 27th Legislative District Assemblywoman Stephanie R. Bush. She returned to the East Orange City Council in 2000 and today will end her sixth term representing the Third Ward. In 2014, she was elected to serve an eighth consecutive year as chairing the legislative body. As Council Chair, she served as a member of the Board of School Estimate, the Personnel Committee, and the Labor Negotiations Committee. She has served as the City Council representative to Joint Meeting and Second River. 

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During her tenure, Councilwoman Talmadge has served as Chairwoman of the Finance, Arts, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning and Grants, Employment and Training; Health and Education; and the Law and Legislation Committees. Councilwoman Talmadge received her Associates Degree from Essex County College and attended Seton Hall University. 

In addition to her career in elected office, the Councilwoman also worked and retired from the Essex County Parks Department after 28 years of service.  She also continues to enjoy a career as a Realtor Associate with Jordan Baris Realty and serves as Vice-Chair and Third Ward District Leader with the East Orange Democratic Municipal County Committee.  "Thank you to the people of the Third Ward and to all of East Orange for your love and support - you all have truly become a part of my family.”   The Councilwoman added, “We have been through a lot together - through it all, we stayed together. It's been my honor to serve, it's in my heart to do this work and to help the younger people to do the same, which is why passing the torch to Vernon Pullins is important in the work ahead for the Third Ward and for East Orange.  He is a seasoned administrator, educator and cares deeply for the people of the Third Ward and the entire East Orange community.”  

When Jacquelyn Johnson was elected to the East Orange City Council in 2000, Bill Clinton was President and  in the election President Bush beat Al Gore to become the next President of the U.S. following Clinton, Oprah debuted her magazine O and 6 year old Elian Gonzalez, who created a world controversy, was returned to his father after a relatives' home in Miami was raided and he was removed.  

Jacquelyn E. Johnson was elected to the East Orange City Council in 2000 and is ending her fifth term representing the Second Ward.  During the 2003 session, she served as Chairwoman of the City’s legislative body.  Councilwoman Johnson has served as Chairwoman of the Law and Legislation and Arts, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committees and as a member of the Business Development and Zoning; Public Works; and Housing, Licensing and Inspection Committees.  

The Councilwoman is a member of the Second Ward’s Melmore Gardens and Beech Street Block Associations.  Over the years, Councilwoman Johnson has been very active as a member of the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Board of Directors and served as Immediate Past President of the NLC’s National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO).  

During her tenure as NBC-LEO President, Councilwoman Johnson received the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel” from Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear for outstanding community service.  She also served as a member of the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Legislative Committee and the East Orange Community Emergency Response Team.    

Councilwoman Johnson said, “We have held one another up when we needed to, we always got past what made us different and instead focused on what we shared as citizens of East Orange and as members of the Municipal Council.  In quoting from Nancy Pelosi's book, she said, "Service is your passion, service is your heart, service is your commitment, but I will tell you this, service is in your soul. That is what we (Councilwoman Talmadge) have done in East Orange. I leave the Second Ward in the capable hands of two dynamic and youthful and bright individuals, whom I know will carry the torch and carry on the work I have done. Congratulations Councilwoman Elected Brittany Claybrooks and continued best wishes to Chris Awe.”