Donald M. Payne,Jr.
About Council President
Donald M. Payne, Jr.
Contact: (973) 733-3753
DONALD M. PAYNE Jr. President, Newark City Council Freeholder-at-Large, Essex County
Council President and Freeholder-at-Large Donald M. Payne Jr. is a lifelong Newark resident whose family has dedicated themselves to making government work for the people. His public service follows that of his respected uncle, William Payne, a former Assemblyman, and his father, the esteemed Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., who served the good people of New Jersey’s 10th district from 1989 until his untimely death in March of this year.
Payne has proudly served for twenty years as a district leader in Newark’s South Ward, and, for six years, as a Freeholder-at-Large for Essex County, where he is pleased to be the county’s top vote-getter. His expertise and knowledge of government at all levels has brought crucial continuity for the businesses and people of Essex County and Newark, minimizing bureaucratic red tape, so business gets done, jobs get created, and services get delivered to people who need them.
These skills helped Payne play an instrumental role in the deal to bring Panasonic’s American headquarters to Newark, delivering nearly 1000 permanent jobs. Throughout his career, Payne has effectively championed the progressive values and causes that affect people most.
As Newark’s City Council President, he has focused on Education, Women’s Health, seniors, Arts, and the Environment. He sits on the Health, Education and Recreation Committees and is known for his ability to foster consensus and cooperation among diverse constituencies both inside government and out.
A tireless advocate for schools and kids, Payne has led the fight year after year for Education funding, and he's assisted countless area pre-schools. He co-founded Embracing Arms which prepares kids for future leadership and established Above the Rim a program that fosters scholarship and athletics. As Freeholder, he partnered with Essex County College to create a job-training program with college credit for area students in the growing hospitality industry.
A longtime champion of pre-natal care, Payne has partnered with Planned Parenthood (which is needed now more than ever) to provide women's health care, and, each year he sponsors the March of Dimes’ “March for Babies.” His program Preserve Our Legacy works to increase awareness among minority communities of the benefits of stem cell research. He is a tireless fighter for Medicaid benefits. His program, Senior Social, connects local seniors with life-saving services.
Payne sits on the board of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and has made advocating for the Arts a personal mission, following in the footsteps of his father. (The late Congressman was awarded an “A” grade for advocacy by the Americans for the Arts Action Fund.) The younger Payne’s program Newark Idol supports performing artists among the city's youth.
Payne’s accomplishments on behalf of the Environment are many. He serves on the board of the Newark Watershed and has worked closely with the Greater Newark Conservancy to promote environmental stewardship through education and advocacy. He has partnered with Newark-based Innovation Fuels, a bio-diesel company, to reduce Newark’s carbon footprint. He has collaborated on Project Porchlight which promotes energy efficiency and education through distribution of CFL bulbs.
Payne began his career in public service as a teenager, when he founded and became the first president of the Newark South Ward Junior Democrats. While studying graphic arts at Kean College (now Kean University), he served as an advisor to the YMCA Youth in Government Program. He also gained government experience at the New Jersey Highway Authority and the Essex County Educational Services Commission.