Holley’s experience as a Public Works director could make him a better mayor

Former Assemblyman Jamel Holley

Former New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley is seeking the Democratic nomination for his old job, as mayor in Roselle.

Have you ever been frustrated about a newly-paved road being torn up by utility workers reinstalling pipes or underground wiring? Well, Jamel C. Holley is leaving his job as the Irvington Department of Public Works director to run for mayor in his hometown of Roselle, but he promises to bring some good ideas with him, including a moratorium on utility companies disturbing recently paved streets.

Holley has said that he plans to coordinate efforts between the Department of Public Works, the Engineering Department, and utility companies to ensure that recently paved streets will no longer be disturbed.

Exceptions to this moratorium will only be allowed in emergencies, said Holley, who is a former Roselle mayor and councilman that served as assemblyman in the State Legislature representing the 20th District from 2015 to 2023. He gave up that seat when he challenged state Senator Joe Cryan in the 2021 Democratic Primary but came up short in Elizabeth and Union.

This time around, Holley is challenging incumbent Mayor Donald Shaw, the boroughs former recreation director.

Shaw is an Elizabeth homeowner who is embroiled in controversy as he attempts to fend off the hometown hero.

Shaw is a high school dropout who has the establishment backing of Union County Democratic Party players despite his shady past and record of incompetence in running the municipal government.

Holley, who last year started a new firm offering local, state, federal public relations, and political consulting, has a focus on economic development, cannabis, environmental issues, housing, public water and sewer systems, and not-for-profit advocacy.

Holley has established close working relationships with both Democrats and Republicans while in the Assembly, where sponsored more than 60 measures that he shepherded in laws.

Holley was the first African American assemblyman representing the 20th Legislative district, when it included Elizabeth, Union, Roselle, and Hillside. The Township of Hillside was replaced with Kenilworth in the latest redistricting. He was also the youngest mayor ever elected in Union County.

Former Mayor Christine Dansereau has endorsed Holley’s return to his old job for nomination in the Democratic primary election.

“It has been amazing to watch one of Roselle’s own grow into a great person and leader,” said Dansereau. “Politics is a bumpy road and few people survive and grow with grace to become a human being that you can trust to represent you in a positive committed selfless way.”

“Jamel Holley is that kind of person and someone you want to have your back in these uncertain times,” said Dansereau. “Vote for Jamel Holley for the Mayor of Roselle and change the road tarnished and littered with disappointment to one that exhibits a bright future for all Roselle Residents. God Bless.”

Holley also served Council President of the Borough of Roselle.

Controversies related to Shaw include issues related to conflicts of interest, misuse of public funds, scandals involving personal behavior, and more. Top government officials have resigned, leaving unfilled such key posts as business administrator, chief financial officer and public works director.

Shaw changed his stories several times as allegations circulated on the Roselle rumor mill, but the Elizabeth homeowner was caught dead to rights in an investigative report published about a week after he altered his financial disclosure statement to indicate that he bought the property.

Shaw and his wife, Kimberly Sharrock-Shaw, purchased a home on Thomas Street in Elizabeth, using $627,288 in borrowed money with a mortgage and deed that specified that the property would be used as the buyer’s principal residence.

The Sharrock-Shaw is a former Fourth Ward councilwoman who is employed as an English teacher at Rahway High School, where she earned $89,251 last year. In addition to his municipal salary, Shaw is paid $84,880 for a low show job at the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, which was given to him by political bosses as an incentive to operate in the interests of power brokers and party leaders.

The new Elizabeth homeowners quickly forced out two longtime tenants despite Covid restrictions that legally forbid them from evicting families, but one disabled senior citizen who lived in the building for 24 years tried to fight back.

The Shaw’s enlisted Elizabeth Councilman Manny Grova, who made one of his own constituents homeless.

Questions remain unanswered about Shaw’s use of a municipal car for out of state driving since documents turned up that reveal that he ran up almost $5,000 worth of E-ZPass violations .

Shaw also squandered close to $60,000 on wasteful ‘bread and circuses’ entertainment in Roselle, hosting parties that are more like opportunities for his political supporters than events with genuine public interest.

Holley’s campaign promises to bring change to Roselle and bring a new level of leadership to the town. With his experience and knowledge, he hopes to make Roselle a better place for all its residents.

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