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New Jersey Division of Local Government Services Director Melanie Walter. (Photo: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.)

Melanie Walter to head HMFA (Updated)

Division of Local Government Services head will replace Charles Richman

By David Wildstein, December 10 2020 1:36 pm

Melanie Walter, the director of the state Division of Local Government Services was named executive director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Walter will replace Charles Richman, a longtime fixture in state government under Democratic and Republican administrations.  Richman, a former Commissioner of Community Affairs, announced his retirement this week.

The HMFA voted today to hire Walter, effective January 1 and subject to the veto of Gov. Phil Murphy.

Walter served as a deputy attorney general before talking over the Division of Local Government Services in December 2018.  She is the daughter of Mercer County Freeholder Lucylle Walter.

Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, the Commissioner of Community Affairs, hired Walter after Tim Cunningham left the post during Murphy’s first year as governor.

The job had widely expected to go to David Brown, the Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.  The decision not to pick Brown partly influenced Monmouth mostly siding with LeRoy Jones in a state party chairmanship fight where Murphy was backing the incumbent, John Currie.

At the time, Brown was serving as the executive director of the Linden Roselle Sewerage Authority and has since become the borough administrator in Bradley Beach.

Brown is not expected to seek the post again.

Walter’s move to the HMFA will again open the politically-sensitive Local  Government Services post, which has broad authority over municipal budgets – especially in cities with severe financial difficulties — as Murphy and Oliver plan to seek re-election in 2021.

In line to replace Walter is her deputy, Kevin Heydel.  He joined Local Government Services in June 2019 after spending 15 years as the Monroe Township (Gloucester) Business Administrator.

This story was updated at 3:16 PM.

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