Essex County Commissioners Sworn in at 2021 Organization Meeting

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From the Essex County Board of Commissioners:

District 2 Commissioner Wayne L. Richardson of Newark was unanimously elected President of the Essex County Board of County Commissioners (formerly Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders), and District 5 Commissioner Carlos M. Pomares of Bloomfield was unanimously elected Vice President, during the Board’s annual Reorganization Meeting held virtually at 5 pm on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. 

The Essex County Board of Commissioners – Pictured are (from left to right, front row) District 2 Commissioner President Wayne Richardson, Commissioner At-Large Romaine Graham, District 3 Commissioner Tyshammie L. Cooper, Commissioner At-Large Patricia Sebold, and Commissioner At-Large Brendan Gill. (From left to right, back row) District 5 Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares, District 4 Commissioner Leonard M. Luciano, Commissioner At-Large Rufus I. Johnson, and District 1 Commissioner Robert Mercado. PHOTO BY GLEN FRIESON

Taking the oath of office prior to the election of officers were Commissioners Patricia Sebold, At-Large, of Livingston (10th term); Rufus I. Johnson, At-Large, of Newark (5th term); outgoing Commissioner President Brendan W. Gill of Montclair (4th Term); Leonard M. Luciano, District 4, of West Caldwell (4th term); Robert Mercado, District 1, of Newark (2nd Term); Tyshammie L. Cooper, District 3, of East Orange (2nd Term); Romaine Graham, At-Large, of Irvington (2nd Term) as well as new President Wayne L. Richardson, District 2, of Newark (3rd term) and Vice President Carlos M. Pomares, District 5, of Bloomfield (2nd term). All were sworn in by New Jersey Superior Court Judge James R. Paganelli.

Commissioner President Richardson is president of Laborers Local 55. In addition, he is a lead organizer for the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund (LEROF) and chairs the City of Newark’s Central Planning Board. 

Essex County Commissioner President – Wayne L. Richardson

President Richardson said, “This board, along with the County Executive and the Administration, has worked to meet the simultaneous challenges of a global pandemic, racial injustice and civil unrest. We acted responsibly with COVID-19 relief bill funding, from testing to food distribution, PPE, and most recently, vaccination sites. We supported legislation for a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. We are a diverse board, representing the diversity of Essex County, yet we have called for support of Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth as a holiday. We supported policy to improve police & community relations, opposed transferring of ICE detainees, and supported elimination of private for-profit prisons in New Jersey. We are poised in  2021 to continue our valuable work for the residents of Essex County.”

Commissioner Vice President Pomares is the first Latino to be elected to a leadership role on the Essex County Board. He previously served as Councilman At-Large in Bloomfield Township. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Cuban Artists Fund and is a history and political science lecturer at Hudson County Community College. 

Essex County Commissioner Vice President – Carlos M. Pomares

Vice President Pomares said, “The opportunity to represent our communities is a challenge we have all embraced. Essex County was hit extremely hard by COVID-19. Although times were challenging, we as County government officials never wavered. County Executive DiVincenzo – under your leadership we provided our residents with much needed relief in the form of weekly food distribution events and easily accessible COVID-19 testing. I look forward to 2021 and continuing to work diligently to serve and uplift the people and the communities of Essex County.”

Outgoing Commissioner President Brendan Gill noted the accomplishments of the last 3 years including banning of smoking in County Parks, allocation over 1.6 million dollars for legal services for ICE detainees held in the Essex County Correctional Facility, and establishment of the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) Civilian Task Force. He said, “As we move forward under the leadership of President Richardson, I am confident the Board will continue to deliver results we can be proud of as county legislators and community leaders.”

Remarks were made by Governor Phil Murphy, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., and Essex County Democratic Party Chairman Leroy Jones, who spoke to the virtues of good government and service the Board has demonstrated. These comments resonated against the backdrop of the chaotic events unfolding at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. prior to, and during, the reorganization ceremony.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem were performed by Valerie Adams of Smooth Productions, and the Invocation was a joint effort presented by three members of the clergy – Rev. Anita Wright, Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montclair; Rabbi David Vaisberg, Senior Rabbi at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, and Imam W. Deen Shareef, Imam of Waris Cultural Research & Development Center in Irvington. Reverend Paul Donohue of Saint Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church in Newark provided final benediction of the event.

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