RAHWAY – The Rahway City Council picked former First Ward Councilman Robert Rachlin to succeed Bobby Akbar this week.
Akbar stepped down last month amid controversy caused by an arrest and suspension from his teaching job with the Rahway School District earlier this year.
According to Council President James Baker, Rachlin got the nod for his prior experience. Rachlin spent 12 years on the council, including three as the council president, from 1996-2008. He stepped aside for health reasons, but said Wednesday that he is in good health.
Rachlin expressed regret for the circumstances that led to his return to public life. “It’s not how I would have wanted to go back on council,” he said.
Akbar was arrested and charged with assault in February. Because police classified the incident as domestic violence, no details were ever released. In June, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace.
In early August, the Board of Education suspended Akbar from his fifth grade teaching job at Franklin Elementary School and positions coaching football and track at Rahway High School. School officials provided no explanation for the move, calling it a personnel matter. Later that month, Akbar resigned from the job he held for six years. Under the agreement, he will be paid through January.
Rahway Republican Chairman Patrick Cassio was critical of the timing of Akbar’s resignation from the council, saying that Akbar waited so the Democrats could avoid a special election.
If Akbar had quit more than 60 days before Election Day, it would have triggered a special election to fill the vacated position. Instead, the all-Democrat council was able to pick from three candidates proposed by the Democratic committee.
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