Rahway picks councilman as interim mayor

Photo by Rebecca Panico
Rahway Council President Raymond Giacobbe Jr., center, takes the oath of office for the city’s interim mayor.

RAHWAY, NJ — On Jan. 8, the Rahway City Council chose as mayor one of their own to replace Samson Steinman, who submitted his resignation Christmas Eve.

Council President Raymond Giacobbe Jr., who represents the 6th Ward, was chosen as interim mayor in a unanimous vote by the council. Giacobbe will lead the town on an interim basis through 2018, and plans to run for the position in November.

“It’s not about me, it’s about we as a community,” Giacobbe said to a packed room after being sworn in by state Assemblyman James Kennedy, who represents the 22nd District, which includes Rahway and six other Union County towns. “We must work together, Democrats and Republicans alike. We must grow and continue to make progress.”

Steinman’s resignation came after a controversial tenure during which he twice crashed his city-issued car, took a seven-week medical leave and told NJ Advance Media that he is bipolar.

“At the present time, I can not give the position the effort it requires and the effort the citizens deserve,” Steinman wrote in an email obtained through a public records request. “It was an honor and a privilege to serve the the city Rahway (sic).”

Giacobbe told LocalSource after the meeting that his first priority would be to sit down with department heads, such as the city’s business administrator, to “digest everything that’s going on and move forward from there.”

“I think it’s an unfortunate circumstance,” he said of Steinman’s resignation. “I wish (Steinman) nothing but the best in the future. But I look forward to running the Rahway city government and moving the town forward.”

City officials had 30 days to select a new mayor. On Jan. 6, the Rahway Democratic Committee first announced three nominees to be presented to the council; the two other candidates were Delores Parson and Derron Palmer, both executive members of the RDC.

RDC Chairman Kevin O’Brien said Steinman’s decision to resign was “completely on his own” and that the party supported him.
“Through this past year, as the mayor worked on getting his health better, the party was behind him and wanted him to succeed,” O’Brien said Jan. 3, before the committee selected the nominees. “At this point, I believe the committee is united. But I do believe the committee is going to have a full and frank discussion as to who the mayor should be. Whoever that next mayor should be would have to have the best interest of the city at stake and also continue to keep the party unified.”

The elevation of Giacobbe to from council president to mayor created vacancies to be filled. In turn, council Vice President David Brown was elevated to president and 1st Ward Councilman Rodney Farrar was voted in as council vice president.

Similarly, the 6th Ward council seat also will have to be filled and will be chosen in a similar manner as the mayoral post. The RDC will hold an “open screening” for any Democrat interested in the position Jan. 12, then select three nominees for the vacant seat in a closed-door meeting the following day. Interested Democrats should contact O’Brien, the committee chairman, at Shamrockkob@gmail.com.