Camden Mayor Redd goes to clergy for advice, not 'strong' Chief of Staff

In case you missed it, I wrote about Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd’s first two years in office in Sunday’s Inquirer and my colleague Kevin Riordan followed up with a column in today’s paper in which he takes a closer look at Redd’s relationship with her Chief of Staff Novella Hinson, wife of the late Teddy Hinson, Redd’s longtime mentor.

One of the several items or vignettes that did not make it into my Sunday story was one about whom Redd goes to for advice. I asked Redd to name her closest advisers because I thought Hinson would be one of those Redd confides in or looks to for counsel when making decisions about Camden.

Her answer was surprising at first.

"Monsignor Doyle is one, as a close adviser, or someone that understands the social justice and civil rights issues as it relates to Camden," she said. Others, she said, are “my pastor from time to time. My faith-based community."

I asked, Well how about in City Hall? (I was thinking maybe someone in her administration or, yes, Hinson) To which Redd made a face and questioned my question.

Well, you know, I replied. People in politics?

"My mentor was Theodore Hinson.... I often hear his voice whisper to me ‘Dana, what have you done for Camden today?’” she said.

 As Kevin says in his column, Novella Hinson has taken on a more motherly role for Redd. It doesn't seem like that makes her an adviser, though.

"For me, fundamentally, [it’s] my faith in God that propels me to continue in some of the most difficult situations that Camden has been faced with,” Redd  told me.

Even though Redd listed pastors among her advisers, at least one of them found his inclusion surprising.

“She talks to me like she would talk to family,” said Msgr. Michael Doyle, of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, who has known Redd since she was a girl at Sacred Heart School.

But an adviser? “I don’t have enough power. I don’t have connections,” Doyle said, but quickly added that he does offer encouragement when she calls.

As I quoted Redd on Sunday: "I'm going to be Dana one way or another... My style might be a little bit different than most politicians." She added: "I'm comfortable in that faith-based community."