NEWARK, NJ – During this week’s annual reorganization meeting of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Brendan Gill of Montclair and Wayne Richardson of Newark were was unanimously elected as board president and vice president, respectively.
Gill, who succeeds Freeholder Britnee Timberlake as president, has served as vice president since 2015. He was elected to his first term as District 5 Freeholder in November of 2011 and was elected Freeholder At-Large in 2014.
At Essex County Newark Tech High School on Tuesday, Governor-elect Phil Murphy administered the Oath of Office to Gill, who said it was an “honor and privilege to be sworn in as the president of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.”
"There has truly never been a more critical moment facing local government officials than the one we face now,” he said. “The challenges facing county and municipal governments are even more daunting given what’s coming out of Washington. While we hear rhetoric that is divisive and drives fear, we know here in Essex County we will continue to unite our residents in common cause and common purpose.”
Gill was nominated by Freeholders Rufus Johnson, Leonard Luciano and Carlos Pomares, who were also sworn in on Tuesday along with Freeholders Lebby Jones, Patricia Sebold, Robert Mercado and Britnee Timberlake.
Gill is a life-long resident of Montclair, attended the Montclair Public Schools and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seton Hall University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He has previously served as state director for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg from 2007 until his passing in 2013 as well as district director for U.S. Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman; Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Peter Eagler; and communications director for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
He also chairs the Democratic Party of Montclair, operates his own public affairs and political consulting firm, and is an active member of the Irish-American community and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
“As the son of a Montclair teacher with a career that spans over 47 years, I have been influenced by my father to serve others,” said Gill, who added that it is his plan to protect the values Essex County serves to uphold—including diversity, safety and economic development—during a time where national legislation has created critical changes in the United States.
As an elected official, Gill shared that serving the people is not an abstract concept, but a realistic task that he takes very seriously. He shared his vision for the board in 2018, including increasing access to jobs, leading the way in creating green and open spaces, and more.
As board president, he also cited his plan to lead a “fiscally prudent government, doing more with less,” while building upon developments made throughout the municipalities in Essex County.
Richardson, nominated as vice president by Freeholders Jones, Sebold and Mercado, was first elected as the District 2 Freeholder in November of 2014 and re-elected in 2017.
He grew up in Newark, graduated from Barringer High School, and served as a District Leader and Assistant Ward Chairperson in Newark’s North Ward in the 1980’s. He has previously worked as a business agent for Laborers Local 108, an organizer for the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund (LEROF), president of Laborers Local 55, and Lead Organizer in New Jersey, Delaware, New York City and Long Island. In 2010, Richardson was appointed to the Newark Central Planning Board and reappointed and elected chairman in 2014.
During his remarks on Tuesday, Richardson shared a quote from South African anti-apartheid political leader Nelson Mandela.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived,” he quoted. “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Richardson thanked his colleagues for electing him and expressed his plan to continue to advance the board’s legacy of advocating for positive changes in Essex County.
In addition to a special appearance by Phil Murphy, the board was also joined at the ceremony by Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. and other elected officials from different levels of government levels.