Chris James

Chris James

Christopher James, currently serving as East Orange Council President, is a champion for people and a government enthusiast. Chris’ political and governmental interest began in his early childhood at his mother’s side as she worked tirelessly, selflessly, and courageously for the late Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. It was from his mother that he learned the meaning of public service.

Chris’ selfless nature has taken him all the way to the State House in Trenton working for the people of New Jersey in various capacities – acquiring close to 20 years in government, policymaking and community organizing. Chris has a successful history in helping to craft, monitor and move legislation from start to finish. In Trenton Chris worked as Chief of Staff to the Honorable Sheila Oliver, when she served as Assembly Speaker, and Deputy Executive Director of the Assembly Democratic Office. He also served as Executive Director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJSDSC). During his tenure at NJSDSC he worked to elect New Jersey's first African American Senator, Cory Booker, New Jersey’s first African American Congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and helped produce the largest Assembly Majority in 35 years.

Chris has earned a reputation as a skilled problem-solver, mediator and negotiator in pursuit of the public good. His passion for the public led him to seek elected office. In 2012 Chris was successfully elected to the East Orange Municipal Council serving the residents of the First Ward. At the beginning of his second term he was selected as Council President by his colleagues. As Council President Chris has led the restructuring of the Police Civilian Review Committee and more than $1 billion in the redevelopment of mostly empty and abandoned properties.

Chris is committed to neighborhoods and small business development. As a small business owner himself, he understands that small businesses support families and strong families are the essence of thriving communities. 

Throughout the years Chris’ civic engagement has led to membership in organizations including Chair New Jersey Democratic Municipal Officials, Co-Chair NJ Democratic State Committee Black Caucus, Board President NJ Shares, NJ Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, East Orange Democratic County Committee, President Emeritus of the NJ Young Democrats, as Past Chair of Young Democrats of America States Presidents Association, an advisory board member on the Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Inc. (HANDS) and former member of the Essex County Vocational School Board.

Other Members

Ready To Change the World?
Apply Today!

Stay connected with our work!

Our monthly newsletter provides a snapshot of our work to build Black and Latino civic engagement and political power in our communities.