Dana
Redd


DANA REDD was elected Mayor of Camden on November 3, 2009. Facing no significant opposition, she succeeded Gwendolyn Faison as Mayor. She previously served on Camden's City Council, was chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Camden, and as State Senator, a post she had been appointed to in the wake of the indictment of Wayne Bryant. Bryant was subsequently convicted in federal court and sentenced to prison.

A Wikipedia article on Mayor Redd reads as follows: 

Dana Redd (born March 7, 1968) is an American Democratic politician, who served in the New Jersey Senate from January 8, 2008 to January 5, 2010, where she represented the 5th legislative district. She is currently the mayor of Camden, New Jersey.

Redd served in the Senate on the Community and Urban Affairs Committee (as Vice-Chair), the Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. She also served on the Joint Committee on Public Schools.[1]

Redd has served on the New Jersey Democratic State Committee as its Vice Chair since 2006 and on the Democratic National Committee from 2006, and was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. She has served on the New Jersey Redistricting Commission since 2001. Redd has served on the Camden City Council as Vice Chair since 2001 and on its Housing Authority, as Chair, from 2004-2006.[1]

She simultaneously holds a seat in the New Jersey Senate and on the City Council. This dual position is allowed under a grandfather clause in the state law enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine in September 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.[2]

Redd received a B.S. from Rutgers University in Business and attended the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (Principles of Redevelopment).[1] She was elected mayor of Camden in 2009.[3] She won the Democratic primary in June 2009 with 86% of the vote, making her the heavy favorite in the November general election.[4] She won the general election on November 3, 2009.

Most in Camden are carefully enthusiastic about the election of Mayor Redd, which, considering the convictions of former mayors Milton Milan and Arnold Webster, says a lot about the faith the public is ready to put into Mayor Redd's efforts. However, some residents of Camden have expressed concern due to her political relationship with Novella Hinson, who had been active in the above-named administrations and a political powerhouse in Camden going back into the 1980s. Mayor Redd also came under fire for proposing salary increases for her staff shortly after her inauguration.


Camden Courier-Post * February 7, 2009


Camden Courier-Post * June 2, 2009


Campaign Card * October, 2009


WHYY Radio - November 4, 2009

Camden's next mayor: Dana Redd

By: Elizabeth Fiedler
efiedler@whyy.org 

Camden New Jersey residents have a new mayor.

Democratic nominee Dana Redd won a decisive victory over three independent candidates on Tuesday. Redd watched the results come in with supporters at the Victor Pub along the Camden Waterfront.

Redd: I won't say I'm surprised but I didn't want to ever assume the voters.  We ran a very positive campaign and we were out knocking doors and trying to get our voters to the polls tonight.  I'm very excited about the outcome and I'm looking forward to going to work for the residents of Camden City.

While Redd is poised to serve as Camden's Mayor, local politicians have not had full control of Camden since 2002, when New Jersey legislators passed a law giving the state a large amount of control over the struggling city's budget, policies and administrative functions.

State control of Camden is set to expire in 2012.


Philadelphia Inquirer - January 1, 2010

Dana Redd takes office as Camden mayor
By Matt Katz
Inquirer Staff Writer

It was a hot August day in 1976 when the 8-year-old Camden girl, newly orphaned following her parents' deaths just two weeks earlier, was blessed by none other than Mother Teresa.

Wearing bows in her hair and a white dress she had worn only once before, Dana Redd took a lei made from flowers grown in the garden at her school, Sacred Heart in Camden, and handed them to the school's visitor, the world's most famous nun.

"And Mother Teresa embraced her with great affection and blessed her," remembered Msgr. Michael Doyle, longtime pastor of Sacred Heart Church. "That blessing was important in that child's development."

Raised by her grandparents, Redd would develop into one of the most prominent politicians in New Jersey in a remarkably short time: a state senator and councilwoman until today, and the vice chair of the state Democratic Committee for another month.

Just after 12:01 a.m. today, the 41-year-old Redd was to take her next political step and become the first new Camden mayor in nine years, ushering in a younger era in the troubled city. She replaces retiring Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, 84.

"Camden is my passion and life's work," Redd said in a 90-minute interview yesterday in her now-vacant City Council office. "Literally, I wake up every day and say, 'What are we doing for Camden today?' "

 A Camden childhood

When Redd references her childhood publicly, it resonates in a city known as the nation's most dangerous.

Yet she is reluctant to go into details about her parents' deaths, which occurred in a Burlington County hotel and were reported by police as a murder-suicide initiated by her father, a Campbell Soup Co. union leader and onetime City Council candidate.

Redd said yesterday that she does not believe police and news accounts from the time. Doyle said those who knew the couple contended both were murdered.

Both sets of grandparents took roles in raising Redd and her 1-year-old brother in the Waterfront South and Centerville neighborhoods. Redd attended high school at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken and went on to study business in night classes at Rutgers University-Camden while working full-time and helping to raise her brother.

By 1990, she was bitten by "the bug" of politics. She went to work as an aide to two Camden County freeholders, including Riletta Cream, who remembers that Redd pushed her to make the rounds at political functions.

At the city's Parking Authority, Redd worked in finance, and has been criticized for leading the agency into debt. Redd, however, said she was a number-cruncher, and neither signed checks nor controlled spending.

She later worked as a division head in Camden County government and was chairwoman of the Housing Authority of Camden, which she said she helped transition from federal oversight.

In 2001, Redd ran for her first of two terms on City Council, and in 2007, she was appointed to replace State Sen. Wayne Bryant (D., Camden) after he was indicted on corruption charges.

In both cases, she said she did not seek the positions but was approached by Camden County Democratic leaders. With her government and political jobs, Redd had become an insider, laying the groundwork for a mayoral run.

Redd plowed through the competition in the November election with considerable financial support from state Democratic groups and traditional Camden County Democratic fund-raisers - labor unions and contractors that do business with government.

Only one resident of Camden, a former school board president, donated to her general-election fund, according to state records.

Redd does not shy from her politician connections. She says matter-of-factly that she can get U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) or U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews (D., Camden) on the phone. She credits George Norcross, the unofficial head of the Camden County Democrats and a statewide political force, for support. "You'd better be a political insider if you want to get something done," Cream said.

Some city activists say the county Democrats are intent on enriching suburban interests instead of helping the poorest medium-size city in America.

"Everything [Redd] has done while in office has been to cater to the political party and the bosses and George Norcross," said one of her former mayoral opponents, Angel Cordero.

Added the city's best-known political gadfly, Frank Fulbrook: "She's not an independent, and she never was. And I've known her for 20 years. She's totally a party-loyal person."

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, who got to know Redd at the 2000 Democratic convention, said Redd is more about "progress than politics" and does not believe in the "machine-style politics of the past."

"The lazy view of her would be, she's part of the Norcross machine, but the truth of the matter is, she's always shown me that her priority and her focus is Camden and the people of Camden."

Redd said she could not immediately think of a time when she opposed a party-supported idea.

Redd voted and cheer-led the most controversial Democratic-pushed plan in Camden in recent years - the massive Cramer Hill redevelopment - and was sued over it. She now acknowledges that the plan did not do enough to take the community into account.

"It was very aggressive and not the approach to take," Redd said.

Redd testified during one of the lawsuits that she did not read some documents related to the redevelopment. Yesterday she said that the city attorney ill-prepared her for that deposition, but that she read the two most important documents: the plan and the supporting study.

On one looming political issue - the Camden County freeholders plan to privatize the county jail - Redd, as mayor, may soon have a chance to prove either her independence or her party loyalty.

She said she was adamantly opposed to putting the jail on Mount Ephraim Avenue, where one private jail company is looking to buy, and would "prefer not to have it in Camden" at all.

Redd has other policy objectives, including a "Clean Camden Campaign" to clean streets. She wants to reform City Hall bureaucracy, attract middle-class residents to interior neighborhoods, and to go after absentee landlords who leave properties abandoned.

Redd said she would use her three appointments to the school board to influence educational policy, and she has "100 percent" support for Police Chief John Thomson, who has presided over a recent reduction in crime while drawing the ire of some officers for his management style.

In reality, Redd has little power. She will earn $103,000 as mayor, but because the state took the city over in 2002, an appointed chief operating officer controls most city operations.

Redd said she hoped that the Legislature would soon transfer more power to her office while retaining a state presence in City Hall.

 Rebuilding Camden

Unfailingly polite, Redd is a self-described introvert who is single and has no children. A lover of music who takes long car rides alone to meditate, she is described as hardworking.

"What I have been most impressed about and what I'm most worried about is how much work she does on her own," said Wendell Pritchett, the chancellor of Rutgers-Camden and cochair of Redd's transition team. "We really need to get her staffed up, because the things that she's facing, she's not going to be able to do on her own."

Redd vowed transparency with the press and said she would "reengage" nonprofit foundations for funding help.

"That's going to be a large part of my job - trying to restore confidence in Camden and its leaders," she said.

Three of her five predecessors were indicted for corruption - a stain that symbolizes the city's long decline.

"People who have wings fly out of Camden, and those who have broken wings come back to it," said Doyle.

"Dana grew wondrous wings," he said, "but she's choosing to take on her city, the city of her childhood, the city of her parents, the city of her grandparents, taking it on when she could have a life easier than that."


Camden Courier-Post - November 4, 2009

Mayor's mentor comes with controversial past

By Deborah Hirsch

Mayor Dana Redd's staff includes four aides, but Novella Hinson is the only one who rides with her to work in a city SUV driven by a police officer.

Hinson is also the one trailing the Camden mayor as she walks through city hall and can often be seen in the background as Redd conducts interviews or greets constituents at public events.

To Redd, Hinson is more than a community outreach aide -- she is a long-standing mentor who brings invaluable insight from more than 30 years in city government.

And while her experience as a Camden administrator is vast, Hinson's history as a city official is also mired in controversy.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd (center) and Novella Hinson (right) talk with property manager Ronda High while visiting Antioch Manor and John O. Parker Hall in Camden last week. Redd dismissed complaints about Hinson's past as unfair political attacks. (JOHN ZIOMEK/Courier-Post)

Despite that, the 65-year-old is back at city hall as a powerful, behind-the-scenes political force -- so powerful that some of those who are quick to complain about her track record or style of doing business declined to be quoted.

Hinson's relationship with the mayor was being developed even before Redd was born.

She went to Camden High School with Redd's father, Ronald, and both also volunteered for the city Democratic party.

Ronald Redd, a union organizer for Campbell Soup employees, ran unsuccessfully for council before he and his wife were killed in a murder-suicide when Redd was 8 years old.

Hinson earned an associate's degree from Edison College in Trenton and started working for the city as a clerk and typist in 1963.

By the early '90s, she'd become the director of the city's newly created Department of Community Affairs and had started an internship program in an effort to mobilize young leaders.

That was around the time when Redd, then in her 20s, began working as an aide to a county freeholder.

Like her father, Hinson said, Dana Redd loved politics and loved Camden.

"I saw her work ethic back then," Hinson said.

Investigations

As far as mentors went, Hinson had the right connections.

Her husband Ted, a former city administrator, became chairman of the city's Democratic Committee in 1991 and was considered an essential cog in the county organization. That is until he -- like his wife -- became the subject of alleged government mismanagement, wasteful spending and corruption.

Under Ted Hinson's watch, the Camden Parking Authority had gone $1 million in the red in 1993.

A Courier-Post investigation found that the independent agency had not only made bad revenue projections but repeatedly overspent its budgets. Among the agency's expenses that year were $27,000 for catered meetings at a posh private club and $69,600 for travel. Of that money, $25,000 paid for 13 employees to go to a conference in Atlanta. Hinson's hotel bill cost $4,500, including his $425-per-night suite and a $951 dinner for parking officials from around the country.

The Courier-Post also found that authority commissioners had increased Ted Hinson's salary by 26 percent between 1991 and 1993 -- almost 9 percent a year in the height of a national economic slump.

On top of his salary, which peaked at $87,000, he was given two cell phones and a Lincoln Continental for business and personal use.

In the wake of the financial crisis, state authorities took over the agency's operations by the end of 1994. Under pressure from Trenton, Ted Hinson resigned the following year.

He currently draws a $35,700 annual pension.

Novella Hinson was an assistant director in the Camden public works department in 1990 when the state began an undercover investigation of an alleged trash-dumping scheme.

Several of Novella Hinson's subordinates were charged with accepting bribes from private contractors to illegally dump waste at the city's transfer station.

When the trial began in April 1994, Hinson testified that she never authorized anyone other than city contractors to dispose of trash at the landfill. The streets supervisor and two laborers were found guilty of various counts of racketeering, conspiracy, official misconduct, theft and bribery.

By then, Hinson had already left the public works department. She was promoted in 1991 to direct the city's new Department of Community Affairs.

Wasteful spending

The Courier-Post reported in 1995 that former mayor Aaron Thompson created the department primarily to give the director's job to Hinson. In return, Ted Hinson and other politicians withdrew their opposition to Thompson's pick for public works director.

Novella Hinson denied that the job was invented for her, saying in a 1995 interview, "I'm not going to bury my head in the ground because of my name."

Hinson's department operated five community centers, city parks and libraries and oversaw contracts for recreation services. It had the third-largest operating budget after police and fire departments, with $3.6 million in city funds and $4.3 million in grants in 1994.

According to past articles published in the Courier-Post, among the department's most criticized expenses: $6,500 for Christmas parade floats, $1,850 for a pumpkin hunt, $10,000 for advertising in a weekly newspaper associated with a friend of former Mayor Arnold Webster and $14,800 to a Philadelphia firm for an unspecified music program.

Camden City Council members did reject at least one expense: a May 1995 proposal to lease a Jeep Cherokee for $24,000.

Accusations of wasteful spending in Hinson's department were also noted in separate state and federal audits.

State treasury and community affairs officials called for the community affairs department to be abolished in a February 1996 report. While the audit highlighted incompetence, waste, favoritism and political pressure throughout the city, Hinson's department was cited as the worst offender when it came to securing "extraordinary, unspecifiable services" without competition.

In addition to improper use of no-bid contracts, the report faulted the department for a fragmented accounting system and spending "with little regard to budget limits."

Though the audit applauded the upkeep of the city's parks, it said all of the functions within Hinson's department would be more appropriately handled elsewhere.

The city was blasted again in a September 1996 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development audit, which found that the city mismanaged or misspent $2.2 million in federal grants and housing funds. That included $47,300 for entertainment, such as the holiday parade organized by Hinson.

Around that time, council proposed a reorganization that would eliminate the Department of Community Affairs as well as the Department of Development and Redevelopment headed by Deborah Polk, now a school administrator who was recently appointed to fill a city council vacancy.

Hinson's supporters packed the public hearing, arguing that children deserved the music training, holiday celebrations and other programs that Hinson had added to the city's recreational activities.

Despite their pleas, some council members maintained that Hinson had spent excessively and for unnecessary programs.

They overrode a veto from Mayor Arnold Webster to approve the reorganization.

After her department was eliminated, Hinson returned to her prior post in public works.

She retired in July 1999 with a $39,600 annual pension.

Less than a year later in February 2000, she came back to the city as the director of Health and Human Services.

Short stint

Once again, the public was outraged.

The Courier-Post criticized Mayor Milton Milan, who had previously led the charge to abolish the Department of Community Affairs as council president, for appointing someone with a record of waste and incompetence.

"It's hard -- no, it's impossible -- to believe that a better-qualified candidate for the job could not be found," a Courier-Post editorial said.

But Hinson didn't stay long -- less than a year -- and said she took a salary that was less than $15,000 so she could continue drawing her pension.

Still, she remained active in politics as an aide to Redd, who was just starting her political career as a city councilwoman in 2001.

When Redd was tapped in late 2007 to replace state Sen. Wayne Bryant, who stepped down on corruption charges, Hinson accompanied her to legislative sessions in Trenton.

During that time she never drew a salary.

Likewise, she currently earns $1 as Redd's mayoral aide, though she also makes $14,800 a year as a commissioner on the Camden County Board of Elections.

Never found guilty

Hinson said she volunteers "to do what I think is important to do." There's nothing better than helping residents become empowered, she said.

"I'm not a philanthropist, but I'm a philanthropist with my time and experience," she said. "It's about what image and possibilities we can bring to the city. Would I ever want to stop doing that? I hope not."

When asked about her past, Hinson emphasized that she'd never been fined or found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Hinson said she couldn't comment on the public works case because it was a legal matter. However, she defended her leadership in the Department of Community Affairs.

Hinson said she followed the mandate she was given, which was to provide opportunities for the more than 30,000 young people living in the city. She claimed she had raised at least $7 million in state and federal grants to complement her city funds, and that the decision to shut the department down was purely political.

Whether or not Hinson has good intentions, Rutgers-Camden adjunct political science professor Tom Knoche said he doesn't understand why Redd would want the liability of having her around.

Hinson may be politically astute, Knoche said, but political agendas can also get in the way of delivering services.

"Camden certainly can't afford that," Knoche said.

Jose Santiago, a retired public works inspector who helped authorities investigate the trash scandal, said he couldn't believe that Hinson had escaped blame back then, or that she would be allowed back in city hall given her history.

"She shouldn't be there," Santiago said. "But that's the way the machine works. It's like a clique."

Redd said she knew leadership would come with challenges to her reputation and associations, but "I'm adamant about staying focused on the work at hand."

"Some people are critical of George Norcross, but we're people that get it done," Redd said. "I need to have people around me that I know, that I trust and Novella has been very loyal to me. When I decided to run for mayor I asked her early on was she prepared to make the sacrifices and she decided if you need me, I will be with you."

Angel Cordero, a Camden community and school choice activist, said Hinson acts as if she's the one calling the shots.

"There's not a plus side to having Ms. Hinson in city hall," said Cordero, who ran against Redd for mayor. "People are on edge. She's a nightmare to be around."

Karl Walko, president of Camden County Council 10, an independent labor union that represents about 450 non-uniformed city employees, said he hears similar complaints.

"The question I got when Dana Redd ran for mayor is, "What do you think Novella is going to do? Is she going to be the business administrator?' Walko said. "They were so worried that they'd have to deal with her on a daily basis."

Redd bristled at accusations that Hinson was meddling where she shouldn't or acting inappropriately. Aides can be assigned to do any task, whether that means picking up a document or representing the mayor at a meeting, Redd said.

She also defended her decision to have Hinson ride with her to work and throughout the day. It's not unusual for government leaders to bring a trusted assistant with them to take notes, Redd said.

"Just like Barack Obama has Rahm Emanuel, I have Novella Hinson," she said. "I need to have somebody who has my back. I didn't get here by myself. It was her lived experience, her past experience and being able to share that wisdom."

Accomplishments

Redd dismissed complaints about Hinson's past as unfair political attacks.

The parades and other activities Hinson was criticized for are things that residents ask for today, Redd said.

"Those were the types of activities that brought the community together from all walks of life and why shouldn't we have those activities?" she said.

Redd cited Hinson's after-school programs, community newsletters and an award-winning anti-littering campaign as examples of her adviser's accomplishments. Hinson was also instrumental in creating a redevelopment plan for Liberty Park and lobbying for funding to build a massive housing development in Centerville, Redd said.

"For everyone who has complained about her, there are probably 10 or more who respect her," Redd said.

Hinson draws high praise from many people in south central Camden, where she lives and has devoted much of her time.

Liberty Park resident Pat Gibson credited Hinson for bringing community cleanups and homeownership programs to its neighborhood association.

"She works real hard for the residents, they brag about her constantly," Gibson said. "Everybody who knew Novella knew that if you needed something done, you went to Novella."


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