IRVINGTON, NJ — New Jersey Democratic Party 2017 gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy came through Essex County this week, making a tour ahead of the Democratic Party primary on Tuesday, June 6, making stops in Irvington on Sunday, May 7, and East Orange on Monday, May 8.
Murphy met with Mayor Tony Vauss, Irvington Democratic Committee Chairwoman Baseemah Beasley, Municipal Council President David Lyons and the rest of the Irvington Democratic Committee at Don’s Diner, just off Springfield Avenue across from Civic Square. Beasley is the widow of former Municipal Council President and Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley, who co-founded the Team Irvington social and political organization that preceded Vauss’ own Team Irvington Strong group.
“What a tremendous event, having Ambassador Phil Murphy visit Irvington,” said Vauss on Tuesday, May 9. “His visit quickly turned into a full rally in support of his candidacy for governor and Irvington is behind him 100 percent. All the elected council members, as well as mayor and school board members were in attendance. Many of our citizens and district leaders were also on hand to support the next governor of New Jersey.”
Murphy has to prevail in a crowded Democratic primary election field in order to prove Vauss right. The field includes Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Assemblyman Raymond Lesniak and former Montclair resident Jim Johnson, who is also the only black candidate running for governor of New Jersey in 2017. All the Democratic Party candidates seeking to succeed Gov. Chris Christie have appeared before the People’s Organization for Progress, after being invited to speak by Chairman Larry Hamm.
“They’ve all been here,” said P.O.P. member and Irvington NAACP member Ed Kaiser on Thursday, April 6, during Murphy’s appearance at the local grassroots social and economic justice group’s weekly meeting in Abyssinian Baptist Church in Newark. “Wisniewski was here last week. Now this guy’s here this week. Who knows who’ll be here next week?”
Municipal Council Vice President Renee Burgess said she’s just glad Murphy came back to Irvington on Sunday, May 7. He had been in town meetings and speaking with her, Vauss and the other IDC members as far back as 2015, when he first started making exploratory moves for this year’s run for governor.
Murphy also made it a point to show up at Vauss’ annual Black Tie Mayor’s Ball in Belleville on Thursday, Sept. 29. That was right around the time the news broke that Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and state Assembly speaker Jim Sweeney had pulled out of the running, clearing the way for Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs executive.
Murphy was back in town again on Sunday, May 7.
“It was really nice to see Murphy come back to Irvington at this time in his campaign,” said Burgess on Sunday, May 7. “It shows that Irvington, under the leadership of our mayor, has made an impact in our state and people are seeing and watching our progress statewide.”
Municipal Council President and North Ward Councilman David Lyons echoed Burgess’ sentiments. He said Vauss is right that politics are “all about relationships” and the mayor and Baseemah Beasley had the foresight to build a good relationship with Murphy long before he became the state Democratic Party’s presumptive 2017 gubernatorial candidate.
“I think Murphy coming to town on May 7 was a good thing for Irvington,” said Lyons on Monday, May 9. “He feels that he needs our support and I think we were probably one of the first towns to support him. Hopefully, when he does get elected, that means he won’t forget about us and we’ll be able to get more for Irvington from him and the state than we have for the last eight years, under this other governor.”
“I’m a Democrat and I’m running for Governor of the great State of New Jersey,” Murphy said Thursday, Sept. 29, at Vauss’ annual Mayor’s Ball. “I’m here tonight with my friend and for my friend, Mayor Tony Vauss, and all of the citizens of Irvington, one of the great communities in the state. I wish him … and all the members of council and all the citizens the very, very best. I say this all the time: As cities like Irvington go, so goes the state of New Jersey. I’m a huge fan.”