- City Hall/County Courthouse building named in honor of Melvin “Randy” Primas, Jr.
City Hall/County Courthouse building named in honor of Melvin “Randy” Primas, Jr.
(November 13, 2012) - The City of Camden and County of Camden have named the City Hall/County Courthouse building in honor of Melvin “Randy” Primas, Jr., the first African American to serve as Mayor of Camden City.
The dedication ceremony, attended by the Primas family, County officials, City Officials, State Officials, U.S. Representative Robert Andrews and former Governor James Florio took place in the City Council Chambers on November 13, 2012.
Melvin Randolph Primas, Jr., was born, raised and educated in the Camden School System and graduated from Howard University in 1971. It was in high school that he met the love of his life, Bonita Elaine Wilson. They later married on August 16, 1969 and had two loving sons, Melvin R. Primas, III, and Wilson Craig Primas. Mr. Primas truly was dedicated to his family.
After graduating from Howard, he began working for Black People’s Unity Movement (B.P.U.M.) in Camden. At the age of 23, he was elected as the youngest Councilman to serve on City Council.
In 1981, Mr. Primas was elected the first African American Mayor of the City of Camden. He brought hope and dignity to a city he loved so much. He was instrumental in bringing Adventure Aquarium and the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County to the City. His vision inspired many to believe that Camden could once again become the thriving city that it had been in the past.
He was appointed Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in 1990 by then Governor James Florio. After leaving his appointment as Commissioner, he became an Executive at Commerce Capital, a division of then Commerce Bank.
In 2002, he was appointed as the City of Camden Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of the Camden Redevelopment Agency until his retirement in 2006. During his tenure, the Ray and Joan Kroc Center (Salvation Army) was realized. When the Octavius V. Catto Community School opened, it was the first newly built school in the City of Camden in over a few decades. Several housing projects were developed during his tenure, such as the Centerville HOPE VI, Cooper Grant Homes, Nueva Vida, Fairview Village Phase II and many more.
Mr. Primas’s lifetime of public service, sacrifice and “Moving Camden Forward” will be forever remembered by all who visit Camden’s City Hall.