RAHWAY, NJ — If Rahway Mayor Samson Steinman wanted to gain notoriety, giving himself a 246 percent raise was one way to do it.
A quick search of the mayor’s name on the internet will turn up dozens of articles from outlets as far reaching as San Francisco, as the Associated Press picked up the contentious story of the city’s council approving a very large raise for the first-time mayor.
Critics of the mayor are blasting the move as hypocritical, but the mayor has reportedly said he will take on the work of the eliminated assistant business administrator position and work full time at the helm of Rahway.
Raising the eyebrows of many is the fact that in November of 2012, Steinman was still just a councilman in Rahway, but he led the charge to slash former mayor Rick Proctor’s salary from $66,000 a year down to $20,808. Steinman’s salary is now expected to increase to $72,000 a year.
But the salary slashing was just one part of a larger battle, led by Steinman, between the council and then mayor Proctor.
Proctor had attempted to hire his wife as health officer for Rahway after he stepped down from the position to become mayor. When Proctor failed to remove himself from the decision, the council lashed out against him, filing complaints and taking action.
Ultimately, amid other complaints, Proctor resigned as mayor with a single-sentence letter months after his salary was unanimously slashed by the council, with Steinman leading the charge. Steinman was appointing interim mayor, and a few months later was elected to a full term in office.
Proctor, at the time, said the move was political, but Steinman, in 2012, said the move was intended to balance the mayor’s salary with the salaries of other mayors. In fact, Steinman even said the $20,808 salary was derived through taking the average of mayor salaries throughout Union County. Steinman’s new salary, should it be finalized, will exceed that average 2012 salary by $51,192.
Rahway has more than 28,000 people. Union, by comparison, has a population of more than 50,000, and Union Mayor Manuel Figueroa earns only $19,000 a year.
In response, Steinman has reportedly stated to several news outlets that he intends to work full time for the city, and be available at all hours for the day-to-day operations of Rahway, involving work with personnel, redevelopment, economic development, public works, and recreation.
At the upcoming May 11 Rahway City Council meeting, a final adoption of the ordinance to increase Steinman’s salary to $72,000 a year is expected to pass following public comment.
Steinman did not respond to a request for comment by press time.