Essex Freeholder Brendan Gill on new consulting firm, politics and the future


MONTCLAIR – Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill is a veteran New Jersey politico whose name often gets tied to titles when political observers speculate about the future, such as congressman or county executive. But now Gill has chosen a new title for himself: businessman.

Gill recently announced that he would be launching his own public affairs and political consulting group, known as The BGill Group. Gill, 40, a Democrat, has been hip-deep in New Jersey politics for years. Just elected at-large for his second freeholder term, Gill successfully served as the campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) reelection bid this year. It was a role he revisited after serving the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg in the same capacity in 2008 during the primary and general election campaigns. The lifetime Montclair resident also serves as the chair of the Montclair Democratic County Committee.

In an interview with PolitickerNJ, Gill talked about how a life in politics has given him a template for another life in business.

“I’ve been lucky to work in public service since I graduated from Seton Hall [in 1996] and started working on [U.S. Rep.] Bill Pascrell’s (D-9) first campaign for Congress [in 1996],” Gill said. “I was motivated, and still am motivated, about working for individuals who are fighting for something I believe in. I’ve been blessed I’ve been able to make a career of something that I love to do.”

Gill noted that the tough campaigns he has been on left him with a skill set than he thinks is transferable to the private sector.

“Being organized, doing your homework, being able to be tough when you need to be and make tough decisions – all of these play a role. Campaigns are multimillion dollar organizational structures. New Jersey politics is a full-contact sport, and it can prepare you for anything you want to do,” Gill said. “You get to learn a lot about a lot of things, including message and message delivery.”

Gill offered some free advice for candidates looking to win.

“The individual who is running has to know very clearly why they are running,” Gill said. “Their motivation has to be the starting point from which everything else will flow. You’ve got to play to win the game, and you’ve got to know what you want to do if you win. Things go much better for candidates if they do.”

Gill’s firm will be based in Montclair, and Booker, who he now serves as a senior advisor, will be one of Gill’s first consulting customers. The firm will focus on campaign work, digital media, public relations, marketing and communications – what Gill called “a full-service public affairs company.”

Although Gill is optimistic about moving into the private sector, he made it clear that he still has a desire to stay in public life.

“I think the time is right for me to put my experiences to work, but I was just reelected to the freeholder board, and I plan to fill out my term. I would like to be able to do both,” Gill said. “There is a lot of speculation about where I might go in politics, and I’ll take those opportunities as they come. But one thing I’ve learned in this business is this: there is no five-year plan.

“I have [two] young children [with wife Alixon]. What motivates me everyday is that people are engaged in the process for our future,” Gill added. “If we aren’t, then we’ll all be in trouble. I’m hopeful that being involved in government makes a positive difference.” Essex Freeholder Brendan Gill on new consulting firm, politics and the future