Councilman resigns after pressure from mayor

ROSELLE, NJ  — After the mayor called for his resignation two weeks ago, 5th Ward Councilman Roy Locke last week agreed to step down by the end of the month.

Mayor Jamel Holley demanded Locke’s resignation two weeks ago in addition to requiring he reimburse the borough 40 percent of the $15,000 salary he receives annually for serving after he failed to attend 40 percent of council meetings in 2014.
Holley maintained Locke, whose three-year term is up the end of the year, displayed “one of the worst records in history.”

“We’re entrusted to run the government by and for the hard working men and women of Roselle and the fact Councilman Locke cannot be bothered to do his job is a disgrace to the office,” Holley said earlier this month.

Since then, though, the two managed to come to a meeting of the minds on the matter and Holley announced last week the councilman agreed to step down.

“Councilman Locke and I have had several meetings and discussions over the past few days and we both agree that the best course of action is for him to step down and focus on his flourishing legal practice and his family,” said the mayor late last week.

Locke submitted his resignation Feb. 18, citing increased personal demands and professional obligations. He will officially vacate his council seat Feb. 28 at midnight.

While initially both Holley and Shaw expressed outrage over Locke not attending meetings or even showing up to chair committees he was charged with overseeing, it appeared things had simmered down considerably by late last week.

“Roy is a dedicated father and husband who made a difficult decision between serving the public and serving his family,” said Holley in a statement, adding “those of us in public life understand the strains that are put on one’s career and family.”

“The balancing act is difficult on the best of days,” the former mayor said, thanking Locke for his service. The councilman will also not have to pay back 40 percent of his salary, which was financed by taxpayers dollars.

The 5th Ward Councilman was equally respectful in his prepared statement, focusing his comments on the positive things that came out of his serving the borough.

“I am extremely proud of my tenure here in Roselle, where I was able to help a lot of people and do some wonderful things to make our community a better place,” he said, thanking the citizens of Roselle for the opportunity to serve them.

Locke, though, did not go into what he accomplished during his tenure as a councilman. He had previously pointed out to constituents in a letter two weeks ago that he had worked with the owner of a Raritan Road shopping center to reduce vacancies and connect residents with job opportunities and grants. The question of who will fill Locke’s 5th Ward council seat now faces the council. According to Shaw, after Locke officially steps down this weekend, the Roselle Democratic Committee will submit three names for consideration by the borough council. After an interview process the council will select a replacement from the pool of three candidates.

Shaw said she will be working with the council and borough attorney to amend the council bylaws to ensure something like this does not happen again in Roselle. Shaw said the council fully intends to examine the municipal code to better define the parameters of council members’ attendance so if a similar situation arises, there is a standard in place to measure attendance.

“There is a need for all elected council members to be held to a defined standard regarding their performance in representing the people of Roselle,” Shaw said, adding that council members “are expected to show up, lead and operate responsible local government.”

Holley, who actually was required to step down as Roselle’s mayor Monday prior to taking the oath of office as the 20th district assemblyman, wrapped up the issues surrounding Locke prior to relinquishing his elected position as mayor.

Holley was selected by the Union County Democratic Party to replace former assemblyman Joe Cryan, who was elected Union County Sheriff last November. Assuming that position legally required that Cryan step down from his long time assembly seat in order to serve.

Holley will finish Cryan’s unexpired term until the end of the year, but is seeking re-election in November. Council President Kim Shaw has taken over as Roselle’s acting mayor in the interim.

However, prior to stepping down this week, the mayor wanted to ensure the situation with Locke was wrapped up, he said.