Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Roselle - Ledger - Council committee assigments to victor

Published in the Star-Ledger, Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Roselle mayor extends influence
Committees reflect bigger role for allies

Star-Ledger Staff

At Roselle's borough reorganization meeting Friday, Mayor Garrett Smith further increased his influence on the borough agenda when Council President Sally Samuel, a Smith ally, announced committee assignments.

Samuel assigned Smith's two political opponents seats on just two of the five council committees. While the four council members allied with Smith will each serve on multiple committees in 2008, Councilwoman Cecilia Ricks and Councilman Jamel Holley were each assigned to just one committee.

Last year, Smith's three opponents were also assigned to just one committee apiece, but because there were more of them, they were represented on more committees. This year, Smith opponent Clarence Cunningham stepped down and was replaced by Smith supporter Samantha Dow.

Samuel, who is responsible for making committee assignments, said she drew up the lists based on input from the council members, who told her the committees on which they wanted to work on and suggested other committee members with whom they would like to serve.

But Holley and Ricks said the committee assignments are a way of marginalizing their political voice.

"I've sat on various committees in the past, but due to the fact that I'm in the minority sitting on the council, I get less committees," Holley said.

This year, the members of the revenue and finance, human resource and recreation committees will all be Smith allies.

Ricks will serve on the public works committee, along with Sylvia Turnage and Christine Dansereau, while Holley will serve on the public safety committee with Samuel and Dansereau, who also expressed concern over the distribution of committee seats.

"In all fairness to everybody else, not only to the other council members but to me as well, I would prefer to have it equitably distributed," said Dansereau, who will serve on at least three committees.

Carly Rothman may be reached at crothman@starledger.com or (908) 302-1504

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.