By Steve Sears
The Township of Wayne’s new Business Administrator, 44-year-old Talib Aquil, is excited and loves what he does.
You can hear it in his voice. “I discovered it 17 years ago when I got into this business. For me, it’s ambition. I never wanted to just work in one position for 10 or 15 years. That’s not something that ever interested me.” While working for the city of Newark, Aquil got promoted almost every three years. However, he never wanted to be in one place for too long, and he also realized that his time working in Newark had reached an end. “I loved Newark; I was born and raised there. I wanted to have an opportunity to do it (be a BA) there, but I had reached a ceiling and it didn’t happen there.”
“Business Administrator is as high as you can go in municipal government, so that’s what I shot for.”
Aquil assumes the seat from Neal Bellet, who for 29 years worked for the township and retired on July 29. “It feels great,” says Aquil, regarding the working atmosphere and guidance he has received. “I think it’s a great situation to walk into. He’s (Bellet) been great. He’s been a mentor. There was a month overlap; I started June 29 and he was with me for about a month. Any questions that I had, he was there to answer them for me. That’s the best way to thrust you into it. ‘You’re the boss,’ he said. ‘I’m going to let you do everything. If you have any questions, I want you to know that I’m here to help you.’ And he did. I still talk to him about five or six times a week. He’s been both a resource and mentor.”
Aquil feels Mayor Chris Vergano and Bellet saw his drive, ambition, energy, and passion during the application and interview process. “I applied for eleven different Business Administrator positions,” Aquil says. “Of the eleven, eight of them called me back, five scheduled interviews, and two cancelled as a result of COVID19. I went to the other three, they all made me offers, but I thought that this was the best place.” Of key importance was that Vergano and Bellet, both of whom he’d be working closely with, would do the hiring, not an agency. “I felt like this was the best situation.”
Aquil when growing up suffered with a form of dyslexia. “I was 11-years-old before I really learned how to read,” he says. “It was struggle back then. I was the butt end of jokes. I went to three different high schools.” While at St. Benedict’s Prep, the school’s child study team tested him and discovered the dyslexia. He attended the school for five years and got tutored, raised his GPA, and the University of Florida A&M, the only school who eventually accepted him as a student, encouraged him significantly. “Giving up was not an option,” he says.
Aquil, who with his wife, Jamilia, are parents of two daughters, Zahra (14) and Ziya (7), has given his word to Vergano that he’s going to be Business Administrator of Wayne for at least five years, and he hopes beyond. “I know he’s going to run again (for Mayor),” says Aquil, “and I’m confident he’s going to be the Mayor-elect. He’s pretty popular and done a lot of good things.”