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Former Passaic County Commissioner Assad Akhter. (Photo: Sammy Rodriguez).

Akhter named to top post on governor’s staff

Former Passaic County commissioner joins Murphy administration

By David Wildstein, June 20 2022 12:05 pm

Former Passaic County Commissioner Assad R. Akhter is joining Gov. Phil Murphy’s staff as senior director for government affairs as part of a reorganization of the governor’s staff during his second term, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

Tim Hillmann, who is currently the deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs and appointments, will take on an expanded role in Murphy’s office as the deputy chief of staff for government affairs, an administration source said.

With the departure of Justin Braz, as deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs next month to become assistant commissioner and chief of staff at the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Hillman will absorb Braz’s department.

Akhter will report to Hillmann in his new job working with legislators to advance the governor’s agenda, as well as intergovernmental affairs, appointments and constituent affairs.

The 41-year-old Akhter spent eleven years on the staff of Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) before running for office.  He was Pascrell’s legislative director in Washington and ran his district offices.  He was the director of community outreach at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System and has been director of public affairs at University Hospital in Newark since 2019.

In 2016, Akhter won a special election convention for an open seat on the Passaic County Board of Freeholders.  He replaced Hector Lora, who had been elected mayor of the City of Passaic.  He won a 2017 special election against Republican Michael Vivino by a 57%-43% margin and won a full term in 2018 by more than 25,000 votes.

In November 2021, Akhter lost his seat to Republican Nick Gallo by 739 votes.

Hillmann spent nine years on U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s staff before joining Murphy in 2018.

Sam Parker will continue as director of appointments, Elizabeth Lawrence stays on as director of the governor’s Office of Constituent Relations, and Emy Quispe remains as director of legislative affairs.

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