Commissioner, New Jersey Amistad Commission
William D. Payne served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1998 to 2008. He was the Deputy Majority Conference Leader of the Assembly and chair of the Regulatory Oversight Committee. He also served as the vice chair of the Budget Committee and as a member of the Human Services Committee. Mr. Payne also serves as commissioner of the Amistad Commission. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in Political Science.
During his tenure in the legislature, Assemblyman Payne sponsored and co-sponsored many bills which were signed into law. Among them; a bill to allocate funds to enable the Newark Boys Chorus to travel to the Union of South Africa for performances in that country. Another of his bills, signed into law, provided the sum of $750,000 to establish school-based mentoring programs for at-risk students in New Jersey’s Abbott school districts. Assemblyman Payne's Amistad legislation, which established the Amistad Commission to incorporate African-American history and contributions into K-12 curriculum in all New Jersey schools, was signed into law in August 2002. The practice of racial profiling by law enforcement and all civil service employees has been criminalized in New Jersey by landmark legislation of which Assemblyman Payne was the lead sponsor. It was signed into law in March 2003 and is the first in the U.S. On July 28, 2005 Assemblyman Payne’s Sudan Divestiture bill was signed into law. This law makes New Jersey the first state to divest employee pension fund investments from corporations doing business in Sudan. Payne’s legislation requiring inspection of one and two family homes for lead paint contamination and his Slavery Apology Resolution calling for New Jersey to express profound regret for the state’s role in slavery were passed in January 2008.
Assemblyman Payne began his professional career as a caseworker for the Essex County Welfare Board and has continued his public and community service in various capacities through the years. He is currently the Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff.
In 1988 he chaired the Payne Congressional Campaign Committee and managed the campaign which resulted in the election of his brother, Donald M. Payne, as New Jersey’s first African-American member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2006, Assemblyman Payne was campaign manager for his nephew, Donald M. Payne, Jr., who served as Newark Municipal Council President until his election in November 2012 to succeed his late father, Donald, Sr. William Payne continues to serve as a key advisor and confidant to Donald Payne, Jr.
An experienced businessman, Mr. Payne established and managed Urban Data Systems, Inc., a computer forms manufacturing company from 1969 to the mid 80’s.
Assemblyman Payne has had considerable international experience. He has attended conferences in numerous countries including; The Union of South Africa, Botswana, Switzerland, China, Turkey, St. Thomas, Panama, Japan, Costa Rica, Rwanda and others.
Long active in public and civic affairs, Assemblyman Payne has been a commissioner and chairman of the Newark Housing Authority and vice chairman of the Essex County Improvement Authority. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Black Youth Organization/The Chad Foundation, an education improvement agency.
Mr. Payne has received numerous citations and awards. Among them are the Senator Wynona M. Lipman Association Award, the Newark Board of Education Award, African American Heritage Award and the North Ward Cultural Center Award. Additional awards: the Omega Phi Epsilon Community Service Award, the NOBLE Award, the NAACP Community Service Award, The Leaguers Merit Award, the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award and the Frontiers Achievement Award. His achievements have been recognized in WHO’S WHO IN FINANCE AND INDUSTRY and WHO’S WHO IN THE EAST. He is a Golden Heritage member of the NAACP.
Mr. Payne was honored in 2012 by the State-wide African American Heritage Parade Committee which appointed him Grand Marshal of its annual parade.