Meet-and-greet introduces Orange’s new business administrator

Photo by Chris Sykes
Orange City Council President Donna K. Williams, left, and new city Business Administrator Chris Hartwyk listen to concerns from members of the local business community on Wednesday, Dec. 14, during a meet-and-greet event at the Sandwiches Unlimited restaurant on Center Street, organized by the City Council.

ORANGE, NJ — Mayor Dwayne Warren has selected Chris Hartwyk as Orange’s new business administrator.

City Council President Donna K. Williams and other council members were so pleased to have a full-time, certified and experienced business administrator that they organized a meet-and-greet session at the Sandwiches Unlimited restaurant on Center Street on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to formally introduce him to the local business community.

“I think he was very informative; (it) was one of the most informative meetings we’ve had in the city of Orange for a long time,” said Sandwiches Unlimited owner Randy Graves on Wednesday, Dec. 14. “I think we had a fairly decent turnout. I think it was productive and what the new business administrator was saying, if he has enough follow-up with him — and it’s going to be up to the merchants and the residents to have a follow-up with him — I think the city will go a long ways.”

John Samaroo, the manager of the M&T Bank branch at the corner of Main and Day streets, was equally impressed by Hartwyk.

“I come to these events all the time — this wasn’t a Chamber of Commerce event, it was organized to introduce the B.A. and kind of as a meet-and-greet as well — so, each time, you always live in hope and you’re kind of inspired,” said Samaroo on Wednesday, Dec. 14. “I think that this was one of the best times and, from what he said, he’s actually committed and he engenders confidence. So I’m really hopeful for what the future looks like.”

Samaroo said the best thing about meeting Hartwyk and hearing what he had to say about his plans for Orange’s future is the fact that “it made sense. It’s not about reinventing the wheel,” when it comes to developing and redeveloping Orange and making it a better place to live, work and play.

“These are things that you get promised in the past, but you know he actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about,” said Samaroo. “We had a chance to talk to him a little bit beforehand and he was on point. He knew the numbers. He knew exactly what things were. So I hope he inspires enough people to really put away the past and come together, because we keep talking about that, but this time, I hope they put a little more energy into it going forward, to kind of keep the energy going, because that would inspire people.”

Robin Gordon, the director of administration for H.A.N.D.S., which is based in the city’s Valley section, also said she was excited to meet Hartwyk and hear what he had to say.

“We had the opportunity to meet and hear the prime objectives of the new business administrator, Chris Hartwyk, and it sounds like a real dose of professionalism in the city of Orange and I’m thrilled,” said Gordon on Wednesday, Dec. 14. “He’s got his priorities; he’s got the long-term view and he’s got the immediate view. He’s doing a lot of listening and he’s taking a lot of his background and experience and putting them to work for Orange.”

The best thing about Hartwyk, Gordon said, was the fact he appears to be genuinely interested in improving Orange socially and from the business and economics points of view. And that, she said, is definitely a change for the better from the last few business administrators that didn’t seem to have the city or its people’s best interests at heart.

“As he said, his momma is asking him every night: ‘What did he do to help Orange today?’ ” said Gordon. “He’s clearly motivated from all angles.”

According to Hartwyk, his mother once resided in Orange and still has a very warm and special place in her heart for the city of her youth. His family ties to the city also include his cousin, former Gov. Richard D. Codey, who recently proved he is still as influential as ever in politics by endorsing incumbent Warren’s successful re-election bid.

Hartwyk was involved in the recent mayoral election, where he worked on East Ward Councilman Kerry Coley’s unsuccessful attempt to unseat Warren. Despite his efforts, Warren still appointed Hartwyk as the new business administrator. Hartwyk served the 90-day minimum in the acting capacity. Then his permanent appointment was bundled with those of other department heads Warren wanted to serve full-time in his administration, including his brother, Todd Warren, the city’s current police director.

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the City Council majority approved Resolution No. 333-2016 by a vote of 5-2 for the simultaneous appointments of Hartwyk as Orange’s new, full-time business administrator; Eric Pennington as the new, full-time city attorney; Todd Warren as the new, full-time police director; and attorney Rashida Hassan as the new Orange Municipal Court judge. Only West Ward Councilman Harold J. Johnson and at large Councilman Chris Jackson voted against the resolution.

Willis Edwards still owes the city $268,750, which he was ordered to pay Thursday, Feb. 18, by Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington, after the mayor “illegally” appointed Edwards to serve as the deputy business administrator in 2012, after the City Council majority voted not to name him the new permanent, full-time business administrator, after his 90-day stint in the acting capacity had ended. Edwards is currently appealing the judge’s ruling and is not legally obliged to repay the money until the case is resolved.

Tyshammie Cooper also served as the acting business administrator for Orange for an extended period of time in the Warren administration and worked in various other jobs and titles, including as chief of staff, despite the fact that the job title does not legally exist in the Orange Township Table of Organization. She also serves as the East Orange 4th Ward councilwoman, where she earns a salary while also being employed by Orange.

According to the city’s public employee records, Cooper’s last reported income was $104,999.96. She is seeking re-election to a second term on the East Orange City Council in the Democratic primary election in June.