Council chairman stepping down to become EO’s new tax assessor

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange 2nd Ward Councilman Romal Bullock, the council chairman, has confirmed he will step down from both positions Sunday, July 1, in order to serve as the city’s new tax assessor.

“I’m still the chairman,” said Bullock on Monday, June 4. “July 1 will be my last day on council. Then, on Monday, July 2, I take over as assessor.”

Bullock was first elected to the council in 2013, and served as vice chairman with former Council Chairman and 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green before Green was elected mayor. Bullock was elected to his second term as part of the Green Team in 2017 slate, after defeating Khalfani Alleyne in the Democratic Party primary in June 2017.

Bullock’s council colleagues chose him to serve as the new chairman Monday, Jan. 1. And although Bullock was vice chairman before being named chairman, it has not been confirmed whether current council Vice Chairman Chris James, the 1st Ward councilman, will succeed Bullock as council chairman.

“Bullock has not stepped down as yet,” Cynthia Brown, the city clerk, said Monday, June 4. “It is anticipated that he will and then be appointed as tax assessor. Nothing has officially taken place yet, so I can’t give you an effective date.”

“Chris James will have to be voted in as chairman,” Brown continued. “Nothing has been done and I assume that is what will take place. Bullock had not submitted anything yet, so I don’t know his effective date.”

Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, June 11. James could not be reached for comment.

Bullock did go on the record with his reasons for leaving the council in order to take a regular, full-time job in East Orange government.

“I’ve been the city of Newark tax assessor for the last six years. It’s sweet, because I like Newark and I love East Orange,” said Bullock on Tuesday, June 5. “They do things differently there, in terms of who the assessor reports to, than we do here in East Orange, but it’s funny because, having served as a councilman while I was working for the administration in Newark, I got to see both sides. It’s been a big help to see both sides.”

Now, Bullock said, he plans to bring his dual perspective to East Orange City Hall and his new office.

“As an assessor, I think the politics side of this is important, because I’ve always been focused on residents and taxpayers, but when you’re their elected representative, then it’s different,” he said. “When you’re from East Orange, like I am, I care about the whole city. Managing the tax base and managing expectations can only be helped by having been on the council and having to represent people directly and answer to them, too.”

That’s why, Bullock said, he plans to bring a whole new level of accessibility and accountability to the tax assessor’s office, once he takes over the position.

“They’re still going to be my constituents,” Bullock said. “In East Orange, they’re your constituents, but they’re also your neighbors. So they feel comfortable reaching out to you when they have an issue, questions or concerns about something in the city or city government that they hope you can help them with resolving. When you have the mindset of a public servant, you have the mindset, whether you’re an elected official or not.”

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