William G. Dressel
Title: Executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities
Why he matters: For the past 15 years, Dressel has been the top lobbyist for the organization that represents the interests in Trenton of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities and some 13,000 elected and appointed municipal officials. One of the most forceful advocates for property tax reform in the state, he is a ubiquitous presence in the Statehouse, since most of the bills that come up for consideration in one way or another affect the towns he represents.
How he got there: The son of a Navy man, Dressel spent most of his youth up and down the eastern seaboard before spending his high school years in Falls Church, Va. After graduating from West Virginia University with a master’s degree in public administration, he took his first and only job in local government as a code enforcement officer in South Whitehall Township, Pa. After his job was threatened because of a change in political administrations, he landed a $7,200 job as an administrative assistant at the league. He makes $191,000 now.
How long he’s been around: The year he joined the league, 1974, the Lobbyists Registration Act took effect. Dressel was handed the 30th lobbyists badge that was handed out.
Why he’s stayed so long: "I enjoy the ever-changing landscape under the Golden Dome. In part, it is the issues keep changing. It’s one of the most exciting, at times demanding, and challenging position. And you always get caught up in the interplay between various philosophies and personalities of who happens to be in charge."
Ever think of leaving: The closest he came was back in the early 1990s when Joe Katz approached him about joining his lobbying firm. Although the job would have doubled what he was then making then, he looked at the firm’s client list and realized it included a lot of people he had spent more than a decade on the opposite side of an issue. "I didn’t think I could do justice to his client list," he said.
Hometown: Robbinsville, where he lives with his wife.