PLAINFIELD — A newly elected chief executive is hoping to set a new course for one of the state’s most politically volatile communities.
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp appointed Rick Smiley as acting city administrator and named Carl Riley as acting police director, to avoid having his nomminees wait until the City Council reorganization meeting on Jan. 6. Prior to his appointment, Smiley was director of Passaic County’s Workforce Investment Board and he brings 25 years of local government experience to the job, having served as director of Plainfield Action Services and former president of city employee unions.
Smiley was chairperson of the Charter Study Commission elected by Plainfield voters in 2012. That panel recently issued its final report.
A Peoples’ Inaugural kicked off a week of service celebrating new leadership in the Queen City, with a New Year’s Day swearing-in ceremony on the steps of City Hall at noon administered by the new Mayor’s daughter Shermona, who is an attorney.
City Clerk ‘AJ’ Jalloh administered the official oath of office at Mapp’s home, shortly after midnight.
Mapp’s Week of Service began with an opportunity for residents to indicate interest in serving on municipal boards and commissions.
Senior Appreciation Day will be celebrated with a visit to the Senior Center on Friday, a weekend encouraging residents to explore Plainfield’s shopping districts, collecting cards and letters to military troops on Monday in support of A Million Thanks, and reading to young children Tuesday round up the series.
Mapp is setting a fast pace in hopes of gaining momentum before the fragile coalition that put him in office can break up.
“In my thirty years of watching and participating in Plainfield politics it seems that the three major forces — Mayor, Council and Democratic Party chair — have never been on the same page more than momentarily,” said Dan Damon, a fixture in local affairs who compared the city’s political system to Rubik’s Cube.
Gloria Taylor, the widow of the late Mayor Rick Taylor and a retired educator, was selected by the City Council in a 5-1 vote at a special session held to fill the Ward 3 seat left vacant by Mapp’s move to the Mayor’s office.
Taylor’s appointment makes a supermajority on the governing body that is closely aligned with city Democratic Party chair Jerry Green, who is also a state assemblyman. Green’s other staunch allies are council members Tracey Brown, Vera Greaves, William Reid and Council President Bridget Rivers.
Councilors Cory Storch and Rebecca Williams are the only members of the governing body elected from Mapp’s ‘New Democrats’ faction, which has long been at odds with Green, who jilted his protégé, Sharon Robinson-Briggs, the city’s first female mayor, as she made her bid for a third term.
Mapp, a Barbados native who immigrated to America in 1977, holds an M.B.A. in International Business from Fairleigh-Dickinson University, a B.S. in Accounting from Rutgers University, and an A.A. in Public Administration from Union County College. He is the finance director, purchasing agent and acting business administrator for Orange Township, a city in Essex County.
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