EAST ORANGE — Three candidates for mayor in East Orange had officially filed for the June 6 Democratic Party primary by the time the deadline had passed Monday, April 3: City Council Chairman and 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green, John Thompson Jr. and Kenwyn S. Williams.
Council seats currently occupied by Councilman Christopher D. James in the 1st Ward, Tyshammie L. Cooper in the 4th Ward and Alicia Holman in the 5th Ward are not being contested, whereas 2nd Ward incumbent and council Vice Chairman Romal D. Bullock is being challenged by Khalfani Alleyne. Board of Education President Bergson Leneus will vie with Jerome Black Jr. for Green’s open seat in the 3rd Ward.
“What we will do here today is go through the petitions; for member of council, you need 25 signatures and, for mayor, you need 50,” said City Clerk Cynthia Brown on Monday, April 3. “Amendments to defective petitions — one has three days in which to file, and that would be April 6; and objections — you have four days to file objections to the petitions, which would be April 7, after which I have to certify the names to the Essex County clerk Christopher Durkin.”
Said Essex County Committee Chairman Leroy Jones on Monday, April 3, “This is not business as usual; this is the new normal and this sets the tone for what’s to come in this election, because you have a historic component, with Berg being the first Haitian-American to hopefully serve on the City Council and, with Ted Green, there’s a whole new spirit of community that has galvanized and you can clearly see that, by the filing today, where he’s filed nearly 5,000 signatures for his mayoral candidacy and a combined filing of the five council candidates and the mayor’s candidacy, nearly 7,500 signatures have been filed. That’s a record: That’s never been done in the history of the city of East Orange. So that’s the new normal.”
“We’re very happy; we came in at 12:00 with petitions on each member of my team and we’re very happy with the number of petitions that we filed today,” said Green on Monday, April 3. “We filed over 5,000 signatures and that shows that, with all the time, effort and hard work that we put into going out and standing in front of 7-Eleven and Dunkin’ Donuts and other locations across the city to meet our constituents where they are as they were going about their lives and daily routines, paid off. We talked to people and asked them what their issues and concerns are and then asked for their support and their signatures on our petitions and they gave it to us and that really means alot to all of us.”
Leneus is aware his presence on the Green Team ticket is historic because, if he succeeds in winning Green’s soon-to-be-vacant 3rd Ward seat, he will be the city’s first-ever Haitian-American councilman.
“I was first appointed by Mayor Robert Bowser and then reappointed by Mayor Lester Taylor and this is my second time running for elected office,” said Leneus on Monday, April 3. “I ran in 2013 for the 3rd Ward City Council seat against Ted Green and lost. That’s a testament to Chairman Jones and Councilman Green, because I did run and they still accepted me into the fold and look, four years later, I’m running for City Council with the Democratic Party, so I thank them and the 3rd Ward Democratic Committee as well for the opportunity and seeing something in me they believe in and can support.”
James said he felt the same and acknowledged he has come a long way since his days as a leading member of the Essex County Young Democrats and serving as an aide to Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver and other veteran Democratic Party officials and political operatives. He called his run for a second consecutive term in office “a great thing.”
“I’m still a Young Democrat, but it’s been a long time and politics touches everything and today is a great day; it’s the start of this campaign train that’s leaving the station,” said James on Monday, April 3. “The campaign’s under way; we’ve filed our petitions; everyone’s in. We’re excited and I’m excited to be running with Mayor Ted Green; excited to have Berg Leneus coming on board; and excited to be part of a great team that’s getting things done, still moving the city along and the progressive agenda that we’ve been doing the last three years.”