NJ Assembly 28th District Candidate Profile: Frank McGehee

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Three Democratic candidates are vying for two seats to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly: Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent; Garnet Hall; and Frank McGehee. Two candidates — Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti — are running in the Republican primary. The primary takes place on June 6, 2023. Read more election coverage here. 

A civic leader and corporate marketing executive, Frank McGehee was born and raised in Chicago, IL.

He is the son of Frank McGehee and the late Diane McGehee, both educators, who raised Frank and his two younger brothers in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side. McGehee attended Mount Carmel High School, an all-boys Catholic High School in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting at the University of Notre Dame and his Master of Business Administration in Brand Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he also earned a full academic scholarship as a Consortium Fellow. A Maplewood, New Jersey resident since 2013, McGehee was elected to serve on the Maplewood Township Committee in 2016 and re-elected in 2019. While serving on the Maplewood Township Committee over two three-year terms, McGehee was elected as Deputy Mayor in 2018 and elected as Mayor in 2020 and 2021 at the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Widely recognized as “Mayor Frank,” McGehee focused on making Maplewood a safe, welcoming, inclusive, thriving and more sustainable community for its 25,000 residents and business owners. McGehee is deeply passionate and committed to public service, and has held many roles in that capacity over the last 30 years – including volunteering as coach of a local baseball team early in his career in his neighborhood in Chicago, and serving as an appointed member of the Economic Development Committee in Newton, Mass. He also served as a proud member of the PTA at Tuscan Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey and served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race.

Today he serves as a Founding Member of the Board of Trustees for the Maplewood Foundation, whose mission is to provide continuing and growing financial support to the organizations focused on improving the quality of life for all of Maplewood’s residents.

He volunteers with his Newark-NJ based Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter (Alpha Alpha Lambda) and is a member of the Fathers Auxiliary for the Greater Essex County New Jersey chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Since 2020, McGehee has served on the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network whose mission is to assist the Republic of Haiti amidst its ongoing crisis. An avid runner with numerous marathons, half marathons, 5K and 10K races under his belt, not only has McGehee run countless miles, he has also helped raise thousands of dollars and awareness for a wide range of non-profit organizations including but not limited to the MEND NJ Hunger Relief Network, The Achieve Foundation and Back on my Feet. In 2022, McGehee received The Roger Manshel Lifetime Achievement Award from Family Connections New Jersey, one of the largest social services agencies in the state, for his impact on Family Connections and the community.

He was also recognized that same year by grassroots organization MAPSO Legends at its first annual gala. With more than 20 years of experience as an analytical marketer with increasing responsibility, McGehee has played an integral role in driving and enhancing consumer acquisition and retention strategies at high-profile start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, including DraftKings, TIDAL, Harrah’s Entertainment, Disney, and Bank of America, among others. In these roles, Frank has earned a stellar reputation as an exceptional and trusted leader who inspires his teams and those working with him. McGehee lives in Maplewood with his wife Marie, a Corporate Communications executive, their daughter Madison who is currently a senior at Columbia High School, and their family dog Sunshine.

Frank’s Track Record

Improved Public Safety Increased public safety – consecutive years of decline in major crimes in almost all of our major categories. Enhanced Pedestrian Safety -Secured federal and state grants for pedestrian safety enhancements, collaborated with PSE&G to improve lighting in commercial and residential districts. Reformed the culture of policing including increasing department diversity, creating a Community Board on Police, hiring a social worker, educating the community about policing and restorative justice. 

Improved Infrastructure  – Merged the Maplewood and South Orange Fire Departments to form the South Essex Fire Department, a first of its kind joint fire department in New Jersey. Voted ‘yes’ to support a $161 million bond to fund the South Orange-Maplewood School District’s Long-Range Facilities Plan Initiated a new Township Master Plan project, Maplewood’s first master plan in nearly 20 years.

Prioritized Diversity, Equity + Inclusion  – Increased Maplewood’s participation in the 2020 Census to 78.7%. Fighting for Haiti – Created Maplewood’s first annual Haitian flag raising ceremony / Member of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network. Served as a Member of the Board of Trustees for the South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, Attended the first Women’s March in Washington DC in 2017, and 2018 March for our Lives protest in Newark, created two Black Lives Matter crosswalks in 2020 following George Floyd’s death, created Maplewood and South Orange’s first official Juneteenth celebration in 2021. Enhanced community engagement opportunities for the aging population with South Orange Maplewood Two Towns for All Ages shared service initiative. Invited young people to join our political process by Launching Maplewood’s Youth Advisory Committee in 2018.

Set New Standards In Sustainability –  Former Member of the Rahway River Project Coalition and Maplewood’s Green Team. Eliminated plastic bags, utensils and member of team which rolled out municipal recycling consolidation and new cost savings program.

Provided Leadership During An Unprecedented Global Pandemic  – Declared a state of emergency in Maplewood Township at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Kept the community safe and fully informed during an unprecedented global pandemic that no mayor in the history of Maplewood Township has ever dealt with. By the end of 2021, 80%+ of Maplewood’s population was fully vaccinated.

Built Connections At The Local, State + Federal Levels – Collaborated with other Mayors in surrounding municipalities to build relationships – address food insecurity and Covid. Worked with SOMA and South Orange Maplewood School District to return students and teachers safely back to in person learning in 2021. Invested municipal capital to bring our Public Library into the 21st century. fund to build a new 21st century public library.

Invested In Main Street – Championed small businesses to secure loans, created parklets for restaurants during the pandemic, active member of Maplewood Chamber of Commerce.

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