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On January 19, 1883, the world's first electric lighting system employing overhead wires began service in Roselle. It had been built by Thomas Edison to demonstrate that an entire community could be lit by electricity. This success encouraged the installation of electric lighting in numerous other villages and cities. The First Presbyterian Church, located on the corner of West 5th Avenue and Chestnut Street, was the first church in the United States to be lit by electricity, and the second in the world after the City Temple church in London.
Roselle was incorporated on December 20, 1894, at the height of the Boroughitis phenomenon sweeping through New Jersey at the time, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier, from portions of Linden. Roselle's name is derived from the Roselle Land Improvement Company, which was created in 1866 to lay out a community around the Mulford Station on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The name "Roselle" is said to have been based on the company's founder, John Conklin Rose or from John Pierre Roselle, a friend of the railroad's president.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.664 square miles (6.899 km2), including 2.651 square miles (6.866 km2) of land and 0.013 square miles (0.033 km2) of water (0.47%),
There were 7,407 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.0% were married couples living together, 19.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.2% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.44.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.0 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 85.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $58,041 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,948) and the median family income was $64,038 (+/- $4,495). Males had a median income of $40,163 (+/- $3,874) versus $36,210 (+/- $1,612) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $25,678 (+/- $1,130). About 7.5% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.9% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
8.0% of the population of Roselle (Creole: Wozel) was of Haitian ancestry. This was the third-highest such percentage in New Jersey and the 16th-highest of any municipality in the nation.
There were 7,520 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.41.
In the borough the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.8 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $51,254, and the median income for a family was $58,841. Males had a median income of $37,604 versus $32,535 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,269. About 5.8% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.
Portions of Roselle are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate at eligible merchants (versus the 7% rate charged statewide).
Roselle is incorporated under the Borough system of municipal government. The governing body is made up of the mayor and the six-member Borough Council. The mayor and council represent the borough at-large and are elected by the entire borough. The remaining five council members are elected from five wards, one from each ward in which the member resides, with Roselle being one of only two boroughs statewide that use wards (the other is Roselle Park). The Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year. The Borough form of government used by Roselle, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council. A borough administrator, appointed by the Borough Council, tends to the day-to-day operations of the municipal government.
As of 2019[update], the Mayor of the Borough of Roselle is Democrat Christine Dansereau, elected to serve a term of office that expires on December 31, 2019. Members of the Roselle Borough Council are Council President Denise Wilkerson (Ward 1; D, 2020), Reginald Atkins (Council-at-Large; D, 2019), Brandon Bernier (Ward 2; D, 2021), Cynthia Johnson (Ward 3; D, 2020), Kim Shaw (Ward 4; D, 2019), and John Fortuna (Ward 5; D, 2021).
Council President Kim Shaw was named to serve as acting mayor in March 2015, after Jamel Holley was named to fill a vacant seat in the New Jersey General Assembly. She served until Dansereau was sworn in on March 11, 2015, making her the first woman to serve as mayor in borough history.
In April 2015, the Borough Council, based on nominations submitted by the Democratic municipal committee, chose Samuel Bishop to fill the vacant seat in the 5th Ward of Roy Locke, while Reginald W. Atkins was chosen to fill the at-large seat vacated by Christine Dansereau when she was sworn in as mayor. Locke had resigned from office in February 2015, under pressure from then-mayor Jamal Holley who cited Locke's frequent absences from council meetings, which Locke attributed to conflicting work and personal responsibilities.
Federal, state and county representation
Roselle is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 20th state legislative district.
Union County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose nine members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis with three seats coming up for election each year, with an appointed County Manager overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Chair and Vice Chair from among its members. As of 2019[update], Union County's Freeholders are Chair Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, term ends December 31, 2019), Vice Chair Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2021)
Angel G. Estrada (D, Elizabeth, 2020),
Angela R. Garretson (D, Hillside Township, 2020),
Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2019),
Christopher Hudak (D, Linden, term ends December 31, 2020),
Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded (D, Westfield, 2021),
Andrea Staten (D, Roselle, 2021),
Rebecca Williams (D, Plainfield, 2019). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are
County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union, 2020),
Sheriff Peter Corvelli (D, Kenilworth, 2020) and
Surrogate James S. LaCorte (D, Springfield Township, 2019). The County Manager is Edward Oatman.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 11,743 registered voters in Roselle, of which 7,127 (60.7% vs. 41.8% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 526 (4.5% vs. 15.3%) were registered as Republicans and 4,087 (34.8% vs. 42.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 55.7% (vs. 53.3% in Union County) were registered to vote, including 72.8% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.6% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,034 votes (88.8% vs. 66.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 875 votes (9.7% vs. 32.3%) and other candidates with 53 votes (0.6% vs. 0.8%), among the 9,043 ballots cast by the borough's 12,694 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.2% (vs. 68.8% in Union County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,055 votes (85.4% vs. 63.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,262 votes (13.4% vs. 35.2%) and other candidates with 52 votes (0.6% vs. 0.9%), among the 9,428 ballots cast by the borough's 12,533 registered voters, for a turnout of 75.2% (vs. 74.7% in Union County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 6,325 votes (79.4% vs. 58.3% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 1,564 votes (19.6% vs. 40.3%) and other candidates with 40 votes (0.5% vs. 0.7%), among the 7,971 ballots cast by the borough's 11,609 registered voters, for a turnout of 68.7% (vs. 72.3% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 71.3% of the vote (2,882 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 27.6% (1,115 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (44 votes), among the 4,283 ballots cast by the borough's 12,460 registered voters (242 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 34.4%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 3,816 ballots cast (77.3% vs. 50.6% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 866 votes (17.5% vs. 41.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 170 votes (3.4% vs. 5.9%) and other candidates with 35 votes (0.7% vs. 0.8%), among the 4,939 ballots cast by the borough's 12,148 registered voters, yielding a 40.7% turnout (vs. 46.5% in the county).
St. Joseph the Carpenter School, which was founded in 1913, serves students in preschool through eighth grade, operating under the supervision of the Newark Archdiocese.
Roads and highways
Route 27 northbound on the southeast edge of Roselle
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 49.96 miles (80.40 km) of roadways, of which 40.32 miles (64.89 km) were maintained by the municipality, 8.60 miles (13.84 km) by Union County and 1.04 miles (1.67 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
New Jersey Route 27 is the most significant highway in Roselle. It forms the borough's southeastern border with Linden.
The Staten Island Railway passed through the community before being dormant for years. It was reactivated by the Morristown & Erie Railway, but Morristown & Erie did not renew their option and their 10-year lease ceased as of May 15, 2012.
^Good, Philip. "Historic Chandelier Restored", The New York Times, June 16, 1991. Accessed July 29, 2012. "In 1947, during a tribute to the inventor on the centennial of his birth, his son Charles Edison said: 'Here in Roselle for the first time electric lines were strung overhead. This was just one of the many experiments, revolutionary and bold for the time, which were tried out in Roselle. The success of the Roselle venture encouraged immediate and widespread installation of electric lighting in villages, towns and small cities throughout the nation.' The successful experiment began in 1882, and by 1883 the hanging light fixture was installed in the church's sanctuary."
^A Brief History of Roselle, Borough of Roselle. Accessed September 25, 2015. "By 1866, a Mr. John Conklin Rose took advantage of his connections with the railroad, (which was by then known as the Central Railroad of New Jersey) and with the cooperation of several landowners in this area established the Roselle Land Improvement Company. They laid out 'The Village of Roselle' on an area that the railroad had called Mulford Station, a stop on the road named for the many Mulford families who lived here."
^The History of Roselle Park, New Jersey, Borough of Roselle Park. Accessed September 25, 2015. "In 1839, the first railroad began regular routes from Elizabethtown to Plainfield, and soon a stop at Mulford Station, named in honor of a prominent family, was scheduled, where Union Road crossed the tracks to Roselle. The stop was moved to Chestnut street about 30 years later and named Roselle in honor of the railroad president's good friend, John Pierre Roselle."
^A Brief History of Roselle, Borough of Roselle. Accessed October 24, 2014. "Our form of government is that of a borough, with a mayor and six councilmen, one from each of five wards, and one councilman elected at large."
^Lloyd, Kathy. "Update: Council President Kim Shaw Will Serve As Acting Mayor of Roselle", TAPinto.net. Accessed March 7, 2015. "A correction to the story posted on TAPinto on Monday evening: TAPinto Roselle had originally reported Council President Kim Shaw as being sworn in as mayor. Shaw was actually sworn in as 'acting mayor' until a new candidate can be chosen. Shaw is the first African-American woman in the position of acting mayor in Roselle history due to the vacancy of former Mayor Jamel Holley leaving for the State Assembly."
^Staff. "Christine Dansereau sworn in as first female mayor of Roselle", Suburban News, March 12, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2015. "Christine Dansereau was sworn in to Roselle's highest office Wednesday night, becoming the first female mayor in the Borough's 132-year history. Dansereau, who had served as 5th Ward Councilwoman for eight years and the last three years as Councilwoman-at-Large, succeeds former Mayor Jamel C. Holley, who resigned his post on Feb. 23 to represent the 20th District in the Assembly."
^Smith, Bhriana. "Two new Members Added to Roselle Council", TAPinto.net, April 11, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2015. "Roy Locke, former Councilman of the 5th ward, was asked to step down by Former Mayor Jamel Holley due to reoccurring absences from public meetings, the seat of 5th ward councilman has been vacant since the beginning of March. Locke's seat was filled by Samuel Bishop.... Filling the seat of Councilman At-Large, vacated by Christine Dansereau who is now Roselle Mayor is Reginald W. Atkins."
^Lannan, Katie. "Roselle councilman steps down after dispute over absences", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, February 19, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2015. "Locke, a first-term councilman elected in 2012, cited increased personal and professional demands when he submitted his resignation to Mayor Jamel Holley and the council on Wednesday. He will continue serve as 5th Ward councilman through the end of the month. Holley had been calling for Locke to step down, citing an attendance record he said was among the worst he'd ever seen."
^School History, St. Joseph the Carpenter School. Accessed August 4, 2016. "In the late summer of 1913, two hearty pioneer Sisters of St. Joseph traveled by train from their convent in Bayonne to establish St. Joseph the Carpenter School."
^Eisner, Dan. "Hemmings, Dumas officially sign", Home News Tribune, February 4, 1999. Accessed March 13, 2011. "Roselle's Jameel Dumas was in a similar situation. Although the linebacker committed to Syracuse in late September he still received calls from other coaches in an attempt to change his mind."
^Krier, Beth Ann. "Rosey Grier Takes a Giant Step", Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1977. Accessed March 13, 2011. "After the Griers moved North to a better life in Roselle, NJ, Grier developed as a champion high school athlete and won scholarship offers from 25 colleges..."
^Beauregard, Steve. "Phil Ivey and His Divorce From His Wife Luciaetta Ivey", Gamboool!, April 12, 2014. Accessed June 14, 2015. "The two met before Phil became the wealthy, poker king he is today. In fact, they were high school sweethearts back in Roselle, New Jersey, where they met when Phil was 17 years old."
^Hambleton, Ken. "Catching up with Barron Miles", Lincoln Journal Star, December 1, 2006. Accessed March 13, 2011. "The Roselle, N.J., native set NU school records for pass breakups in a season and career, kick blocks in a season and career, and was named All-Big Eight twice."
^Staff. "Tunner New India-China ATC Leader", The Command Post, September 8, 1944. Accessed March 13, 2011. "A native of Roselle, N.J., Gen. Tunner was graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1928 and commissioned a second lieutenant, field artillery. Since that time the bulk of his Army career has been devoted to the aviation branch of service."
^Segal, David. "Double Exposure", The Washington Post, May 12, 2005. Accessed July 21, 2016. "They remember none of it. Not the lady with the camera, arranging them by a wall at the Knights of Columbus hall in their home town of Roselle, N.J. Not the chocolate cake they had just finished, which is very faintly visible in the picture at the creases of their lips. The Wade sisters, as they were known before they each married, recall nothing about the day they gazed into the lens of Diane Arbus and became part of American photographic history."