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January 5, 2015


Unanimous Elections take place during the Board’s January 1st Organization Meeting

(Newark, NJ) – Freeholder Britnee N. Timberlake of East Orange and Freeholder Brendan W. Gill of Montclair were unanimously elected President and Vice President, respectively, of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the Board’s Organization Meeting held on Thursday, January 1, 2015, in the Mary Burch Theater at Essex County College.  The meeting followed the Swearing-In Ceremony for all nine members of the Board: Rolando Bobadilla, District 1, of Newark; Brendan W. Gill, At-Large, of Montclair; Rufus I. Johnson, At-Large, of Newark; Lebby C. Jones, At-Large, of Irvington; Leonard M. Luciano, District 4, of West Caldwell; Wayne L. Richardson, District 2, of Newark; Britnee N. Timberlake, District 3, of East Orange; and Cynthia D. Toro, District 5, of Bloomfield.  Essex County Executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., and Dana Rone, Register of Deeds & Mortgages, also took their oaths of office during the ceremony.

Timberlake was nominated for the position of Freeholder President by Freeholders Sebold, Toro and Richardson, while Gill was nominated for the position of Freeholder Vice President by Freeholders Johnson and Luciano.  Both were sworn-in to their leadership positions by the Honorable Dennis F. Carey, Presiding Judge of the Civil Division for the Superior Court of New Jersey.  At the age of 28, Timberlake holds the distinction of being the youngest Essex County freeholder to serve since the 1979 change in the form of county government, and she is also the only African-American woman to currently lead a county freeholder board in the State of New Jersey.

In her remarks, Timberlake expressed gratitude to her freeholder colleagues saying, “Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead; I will not let you down.  I promise that this will be a collaborative effort, and that your voices will be heard on behalf of the constituents, as we will do this together.”  She went on to say, “We are an ethnically-diverse Board, but the true test of diversity is when you can come together for the common good and make decisions collaboratively, and I am confident that we will pass that test together”, as she lauded the unique expertise, experience and strengths of each of her colleagues.   Laying-out the issues she intends to address as Freeholder President, Timberlake cited troubling statistics for Essex County, where great wealth and extreme poverty exist side-by-side: Millennials here are more likely to be living in poverty than their peers elsewhere in the state; the county ranks among the Top 10 welfare populations in the nation; and Newark ranks #6 nationally among cities with populations “in need”, and #1 in the percentage of households on welfare.  “We will work on job creation to address unemployment and underemployment; provide better services to ensure welfare recipients are encouraged to succeed; work closely with non-profits as extensions of government; advocate for affordable housing and down payment assistance grants for low-to-moderate income residents; work with unions to retain jobs; and promote Affirmative Action through creative means to increase the number of women- and minority-owned businesses winning County contracts.”  She also stated that she looked forward to working with County Executive DiVincenzo, “who revived this county when others thought it had flat-lined”, and the more than 3,000 County employees, “to create more success as Essex County continues to move forward in leaps and bounds.”

Freeholder President Timberlake was elected to her first term as District 3 Freeholder in November of 2014.  She is the founding Executive Director of the Essex Community Land Trust (ECLT), an affordable housing organization that expands upon income diversity in Essex County by creating permanent affordable home ownership in suburban areas while also using professionals to warn against predatory lending and promote smart investments.  Under her leadership, ECLT has leveraged $1 million to build affordable housing for low-to-moderate income people.  She also piloted a program, College Bound Cookies, which helps children raise money for their 529 College Savings Accounts.  Freeholder Timberlake is a graduate of EmergeNJ, an organization that trains and develops future female Democratic leaders.  She previously served the welfare-to-work population as an AmeriCorps member in Union County and was the Housing Chair of her local NAACP chapter.  She earned her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Religious Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, both from Seton Hall University.  She is the proud daughter of Philip Timberlake, who served as a Sergeant in the U. S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, and Cathy Timberlake, who taught the mentally and physically-challenged.

Freeholder Vice President Gill thanked his colleagues, “…for the confidence you have shown in me”, adding, “Please know that I do not take it lightly, and that I look forward to working with you.”  He also expressed his support for Freeholder President Timberlake and her desire to address social and economic inequities found in the County saying, “I hear you loud and clear, and although we have enjoyed great success in this county, we still have a tale of two counties, and I’m committed to helping you each and every day to make this one county.”  He also expressed his appreciation to the preceding vice president, Freeholder Patricia Sebold, “for her leadership and commitment to the County and this Board”, as well as to County Executive DiVincenzo and Democratic County Chairman, Leroy Jones.  He spoke of having the privilege to commit his career to public service, and to have worked with outstanding public servants over the years, including Congressmen Rothman and Pascrell, and the late U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg.  Remarking on the fact that the most recent U. S. Senate contest attracted the lowest voter turnout in New Jersey history, he said, “It doesn’t bode well for the future of this country when there is such a low level of participation in the civic process.”  He went on to say, “We must encourage our young people to get involved in politics, and to understand that they can affect real change through their participation in the process.”  Gill concluded his remarks by saying, “I look forward to standing united with my colleagues in our mission as elected officials to ensure that Essex County has the resources it needs to strengthen our middle class and build an economy that works for everyone.”

Freeholder Vice President Gill was elected to his first term as District 5 Freeholder in November of 2011, and then re-elected to serve At-Large in 2014.  He is a life-long resident of Essex County, attended the Montclair Public Schools and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seton Hall University, where he earned a B.A. degree in Political Science.  Freeholder Gill served as State Director for U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg from 2007 until his passing in 2013.  Previously, he was District Director for U.S. Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Peter Eagler, and Communications Director for the NJ Department of Transportation.  Freeholder Gill chairs the Democratic Party of Montclair where he previously served on the Planning Board, and currently operates his own public affairs and political consulting firm.  He is an active member of the Irish-American community and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Freeholder President Timberlake represents and was elected by the residents of Freeholder District 3, which is comprised of East Orange, Orange, South Orange and part of Newark’s West Ward.  As an At-Large Freeholder, Vice President Gill is elected to represent all 22 Essex County municipalities.


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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders




Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695