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Derek Armstead

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Derek Armstead
File:Derek Armstead.png
Derek Armstead in June of 2015
Mayor of Linden, NJ
Assumed office
January 7, 2015
Preceded byRichard Gerbounka
Linden City Council
In office
January 1994 – January 2015
Personal details
BornLinden, New Jersey
Political partyDemocratic Party
Alma materUnion County College

Derek Armstead is the current mayor of Linden, New Jersey. He is the first African-American elected to that position.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Armstead went to Linden High School, graduating in 1979.[2] He graduated from Union County College after studying Computer Science there, and worked at the Prudential Insurance Company as a Communications Consultant in their Computer Operations and Telecommunications Division.[2]

Political career[edit]


Armstead was first elected to represent the 4th Ward in the Linden City Council in November 1993,[2][3] and served four terms before his election as mayor of Linden in 2014.

Mayor of Linden[edit]

Armstead first ran for mayor of Linden in 2010, winning the Democratic nomination but losing in the general election to the incumbent mayor, Richard Gerbounka.[4]

Armstead ran for mayor again in 2014, ousting Gerbounka in the general election.[1]

Armstead distinguished himself by bringing together disparate factions that once engaged is bare-fisted political wars. Among his strongest allies today is Council President Michel Yamakaitis, who was a candidate on the opposing ticket in 2010, when Armstead first one the Democratic nomination for mayor, but joined his team in 2018. He has also built strong alliances with members of the school board and captured a majority on the city's governing body.

Among Armstead's top priorities in the Mayor's Office have been cutting taxes and creating jobs. In 2017, Armstead convinced the City Council to eliminate the garbage tax, a $10 per month surcharge imposed in 2013.[5] Subsequently, Armstead proposed a budget in 2018 that contained the first tax cut in the municipal portion of property tax bills in living memory. Although a modest tax reduction, the 2018 budget was followed by a second tax cut in 2019—sealing the new administration's commitment to turning around a record that increased the city’s tax rate 104 percent since 2006.

On job creation, Armstead scored a major accomplishment when the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in April, May and June 2019, that the city's unemployment rate reached its lowest point in 50 years, with only 3.3 percent of the city's labor force in need of jobs. For the first time in history, in 2019 Linden exceeded 21,000 working residents—a historic achievement that confirmed Armstead's reputation of an effective force for job creation. According to James Coyle, President of the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, "Mayor Armstead has made Linden the most business friendly city in the state of New Jersey, if not the entire northeastern United States." [6]

These achievements resulted in a stronger political position for the mayor, as Armstead replaced state Sen. Nicholas Scutari as the chairman of the Democratic Municipal Committee, ousting the incumbent by seven votes in the city although the lawmaker remained in power as the county political boss due to his continued support from mayors in Elizabeth and Plainfield.[7]

Armstead was accused of striking city council member John Francis Roman in May 2018.[8] While there were legal proceedings, the case was ultimately dismissed in December 2019.[9]

In October 2019, Armstead donated $1,000 to the re-election campaign of Dover Mayor James P. Dodd, an independent who ran against Democrat Carolyn Blackman. Fellow Democrats called for Armstead to resign as local party chair given his donation to the candidate running against a Democrat, as well as a candidate who used slurs against others.[10]

In April 2020, during the COVID-19 crisis, Armstead was accused of being out and interacting with people to campaign for council candidate Joao Goncalves. Armstead defended himself by stating that he was only interacting with friends of Goncalves, saying, “Everyone wants to make a big deal out of this,"[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Haydon, Tom (November 7, 2014). "Armstead becomes Linden's first black mayor, will leave county job behind". NJ Advance Media. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Mayor Derek Armstead". City of Linden, NJ Official Website. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  3. "Armstead will succeed Gerbounka as Linden Mayor". . November 7, 2014. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  4. Haydon, Tom (January 6, 2014). "Linden councilman announces bid for mayor, making second run for city's top seat". NJ Advance Media. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  5. Elana Knopp "Linden garbage fee is to be repealed by the City Council", Union News Daily, August 1, 2017. Accessed Oct, 5 2019.
  6. "U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Postal Square Building, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20212-0001| "
  7. Liv Meier "Scutari remains head of county Dems, replaced in Linden", Union News Daily, June 22, 2019. Accessed Oct, 5 2019.
  8. "Debate Over Linden City Mascot Ends with Councilman Filing Simple Assault Charge Against Mayor". Insider NJ. 2018-05-15. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  9. "In Linden, Roman Complaint Against Armstead Dismissed". Insider NJ. 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  10. "Armstead contribution to independent candidate leads to call for resignation". New Jersey Globe. 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  11., Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for (2020-04-26). "This N.J. mayor was campaigning door-to-door amid coronavirus pandemic, critics say". nj. Retrieved 2020-04-29.

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