With Nutter cheering, Camden Mayor Redd sworn in to second term

Mayor Dana L. Redd takes the oath of office, flanked by Pastor Chad Theodore Hinson Sr. (left) and her cousin the Rev. Mark Redd.
Mayor Dana L. Redd takes the oath of office, flanked by Pastor Chad Theodore Hinson Sr. (left) and her cousin the Rev. Mark Redd. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 09, 2014

CAMDEN Flanked by Mayor Nutter and South Jersey Democratic figures past and present, Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd took the oath of office for a second term Tuesday, hearing praise for her work over the last four years and promising continued momentum for the struggling city.

"We all know and understand that we have a long road to travel until we wave the victory flag, but together we will prevail," she said. "We will confront our challenges head-on together. We will remain committed to the cause that is moving Camden forward - restoring the pride."

Redd, 45, won reelection in November, handily beating her closest challenger, independent Amir Khan, a pastor and businessman. Only 30 percent of voters turned out.

In her first term, Redd, a former state senator and a lifelong government and Democratic Party worker, made a controversial decision to replace the Camden City Police Department with the newly formed Camden County Police Metro Division. She was also criticized and complimented for her support of the state takeover of Camden schools.

Tuesday, at her inauguration at Antioch Baptist Church, she was celebrated for those decisions by her mentors - former Freeholder Riletta Cream and former Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez - as well as current backers, including Nutter, U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), State Sen. Donald Norcross, businessman and Democratic leader George E. Norcross III, and City Council President Frank Moran.

On Council, Curtis Jenkins and Marilyn Torres, both incumbents, and newcomer Arthur Barclay were also sworn in.

"Camden has had some tough times; well, Philly has, too," Nutter said. "We're coming back and you're coming back, too, with the strong leadership she's provided."

Nutter, who was invited to speak by Redd, said, "The futures of Philadelphia and Camden are tied together.

"The Delaware River may separate us, but it is not a barrier. We share too much. We're both port cities turned into industrial hubs looking to expand our marketplace into the 21st century," he said.

Nutter touted Philadelphia's recent drop in homicides - down 38 percent since 2008 to the lowest rate since 1967. He told Redd she was moving Camden in a similar direction with a drop in homicides from 2012.

"She gets the credit, because if it were a 15 percent increase, she'd get the blame," he said.

Nutter compared the two cities' shared commitment to "eds and meds," saying 35 percent of Philadelphia's workforce is employed in those fields and giving a nod to George Norcross' work with Cooper University Hospital, where he is chairman, and other development in Camden.

George Norcross, who spoke along with his brother, Donald (D., Camden), said Redd had accomplished "real things, not promises, not press conferences."

Norcross, who is a managing partner of The Inquirer's parent company, called Redd's decision to replace the police department with a county force - a move he pushed for - "courageous," and lauded the Economic Opportunity Act, which Donald Norcross sponsored. The bill provides tax incentives for companies to locate in Camden.

He said that as a direct result of the bill, Cooper would move 600 employees from Cherry Hill to Camden, which prompted applause from the large crowd.

A theme of the afternoon was celebrating the many people who taught and nurtured Redd, including Theodore "Teddy" Hinson Sr., who Redd said constantly asked her, "What have you done for Camden today?"

Cream, a former county freeholder and Camden High School principal who worked closely with Redd, called the mayor her daughter. "Today, your mother is proud of you," she said.

In Redd's 10-minute address before hundreds, including family, she said that in the next year she will continue to focus on public safety and work with residents to reduce violence through a new, federally funded $1.4 million initiative called Cure Violence that will pay mediators to defuse conflicts.

Improving Camden's schools, where 23 of 26 tested as failing last year, is as always a primary concern, she said.

She announced the institution of parent and community education centers across the city, which will provide parents of Camden students - district, Renaissance, charter, or parochial - resources to support their children. She did not provide details.

Redd also said many businesses had expressed interest in Camden. She noted that a ShopRite is to be built on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard next year.

She ended her speech by telling residents that Camden would not be the "laughingstock" of the state but the "shining urban anchor."

"Be proud of our home. Be proud of our beloved Camden, because it is our time," she said.

Dwaine Williams, a former school board member and member of the city's Development Authority, attended the inauguration and said that at this time last year, he was unhappy that many of the changes under Redd, including the police transition, went through without much public input.

"As she's explained what she's trying to do here, it's become clearer, and, at the end of the day, someone had to do something," Williams said.

Williams, who said he is a friend of Barclay, the only new member of the seven-member Council, said he hoped Barclay finds his niche and speaks up, even as a rookie.

"I want him to be able to learn what the issues are and where people stand, and then form his own opinions," said Williams, of East Camden.

"The decisions these people make have local effect immediately," Williams said.




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