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January 18, 2005 > Newark Welcomes Paul H.B. Tong to the Council

Newark Welcomes Paul H.B. Tong to the Council

by Susana Nuñez

Out of the 16 people who applied for a seat on the Newark City Council, Paul H.B. Tong proved to be the man for the job. Although Tong retired in 1997 from his position as Newark's City Manager, a position currently filled by Al Huezo, he feels right at home with the staff in his role as the new Council Member. Having 37 years of experience working for the City of Newark didn't hurt when the time came to apply for the job, as well as the fact that he trained most of the current council members. His familiarity with the way the city is managed has helped him catch up quickly as well.

The process by which Council Member Tong was chosen was through appointment by the Council as opposed to an election. The high cost of an election for the short term the new council member would hold seemed unreasonable to the Council. The appointment process began with the review of all 16 applicants, one of which was turned in by an unregistered voter who was therefore ineligible for the position. Out of the remaining 15, five stated that they would run again in the 2005 elections, while three were undecided, and seven stated that they would not run in 2005. The council unanimously decided to choose from the group that stated that they would not run for re-election. The Council, as well as Tong, believes an unfair advantage would be given to the person who served for one year beforehand during the fill-in term. All seven applicants were interviewed orally on Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 and the decision was made that evening. The Council used a process of elimination by selecting four of the seven applicants each, which they then reduced to two of the four, and finally one of the two. A special City Council meeting was held on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at the regular time, 7:30 p.m., to swear in the Council Member Tong and reorganize the Council. In addition, Council Member Alan L. Nagy was promoted to Vice Mayor.

Council Member Tong said, "The council wanted somebody who would be able to move in right away, and since I used to write the reports I'm now reading, I just jumped in!" About his position as Newark's city manager from 1988-1996, Council Member Tong states that he completely retired from the City in 1997 for the "sake of Al Huezo" so as to not interrupt or interfere with his managing of the City. He knows Huezo and the rest of the staff from the eight years back when he last worked for the City, since he was the man who appointed many of them. The seat Tong now holds will be open again in November of 2005, and he concurs with the Council on the issue of having an unfair advantage if he were to run for re-election. Council Member Tong is pleased with his appointment, however, stating, "It's a wonderful feeling to be back."

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