New Hillside mayor makes appointments, more coming

HILLSIDE, NJ — Mayor Dahlia Vertreese has appointed Hanifa Johnson as the township’s new department of public works director.
Johnson was hired as the head of the DPW, Hillside spokeswoman Natalie Pineiro said. Johnson previously worked as an assistant deputy borough engineer in Roselle and for Maser Consulting, an engineering firm based in Monmouth County.

“There were issues with our sewer systems that were causing some environmental concerns,” Vertreese said in a statement, “so getting someone qualified in this position was extremely important.”

The township faces infrastructure issues that include the coverage of manholes, structural integrity of pipes and stormwater problems, according to a press release from the township. The DPW will also reassess signage and compliance with environmental regulations.

In addition to her previous employment, Johnson was appointed in 2015 to a two-year term as a member of Commission on the Status of Women in Newark.

The mayor is also seeking to hire a new, full-time chief financial officer to address “small money bleeds,” according to a press release.
“We need to adequately assess our spending versus incoming tax dollars and ensure that proper protocol is being followed when contracting and purchasing,” Vertreese said in a statement. “We also need to analyze that we are saving money in all areas.”

Vertreese is also in talks with council members and administrators to come up with a process to sell several foreclosed properties — some amounting to $600,000 — as a way to stabilize local property taxes, the release said.

The mayor, meanwhile, has also authorized an online “newsroom” and Facebook page at
To learn more about the current administration’s goals for each committee, visit the online transition team report at