RAHWAY—Freeholder Richard ‘Rick’ Proctor is running to succeed Mayor James Kennedy in the hope that he may continue moving the city in the direction started 20 years ago in response to economic conditions that developed in the 1970s and continued through the following decade.
Long standing in the shadow of the man he wants to emulate, Proctor was selected by Kennedy to serve as the city Democratic chairman in 1993, the year after he made an unsuccessful attempt to win election in the Third Ward against former Councilman William Wnuck.
Kennedy later chose Proctor as the city health officer when he left Bloomfield, where for 18 years he served as the director of Health and Human Services. The Mayor also struck a deal with county political boss Charlotte Defilippo to have Proctor appointed to the Freeholder Board in February 2002 and he has since been elected to three consecutive three-year terms, although records show he was absent for 346 roll call votes during his current term.
Kennedy passed over Proctor for appointment as city business administrator when the position became vacant in 2003 and instead selected Robert A. Gorman to replace Peter H. Pelissier, but he endorsed the loyalist as his heir apparent before former Housing Authority Chairperson Renee Bridges Thrash entered the contest.
Although he did not yet release details about his vision or platform, Proctor said he plans to resign from his current elected office and as the city health director, allowing him to collect $125,000 in annual retirement benefits, if he is elected to the $70,000 job as mayor.
Proctor says he also wants to keep on the public payroll Pelissier, who returned as both city administrator and redevelopment director, two jobs for which he is paid $296,000.
Proctor served 12 years on the Rahway Board of Education, including a stint as Board President in 1984.
His running mates include Council members Sam Mione and Nancy Saliga, who originally ran with Kennedy 20 years ago, and James Baker, a county employee who joined the governing body in 2004.
In 2008, Proctor earned a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
He also has a Master of Science degree in Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Washington and Lee University.
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