IRVINGTON/EAST ORANGE, NJ — In a press conference Tuesday, Feb. 21, East Orange City Council Chairman Ted Green announced he will run for mayor in the June 6 Democratic Party primary at the top of an East Orange Democratic Committee slate. Green also works as the Irvington Building Department director in Mayor Tony Vauss’ administration. Incumbent East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor announced he would not run for re-election to a second term earlier this month.
Green and Vauss are friends; they share the same birthday and have gone on vacations together with their wives for years. The two will something else in common if Green wins his bid to serve as East Orange’s next mayor. Vauss said that, after a lifetime of friendship and shared experiences with Green, he looks forward to taking the next step in their lives and public service careers together. He said if Green is elected it will just be one more thing they have in common.
“I’m excited about the future for East Orange and I’m looking forward to continuing the relationship between Irvington and East Orange,” Vauss said Sunday, Feb. 19. “I think Ted has been a force for positive progress in East Orange for many years now. I look forward to building a renaissance in East Orange.”
“I think Ted is a great choice to succeed Lester Taylor,” Vauss added. “He has a blueprint for doing what he knows needs to be done in East Orange because he has been an integral part of the success that we’re having in Irvington. Ted is going to do a great job as the next mayor of East Orange.”
But first, Green has to win his hometown’s primary election in order to prove Vauss’ prediction.
“Today I am declaring my candidacy for mayor of the great city of East Orange,” said Green on Tuesday, Feb. 21. East Orange is the only home I have ever known. My life began at 91 Steuben St., near Winthrop Place; this is where I dreamed of making a difference one day. The people of East Orange have allowed me to do that, and today I ask you to join me to rebuild, restore and revive our great city.”
Also running in the primary are the following incumbent council members: 1st Ward Councilman Chris James, 2nd Ward Councilman Romal Bullock, 4th Ward Councilwoman Tyshammie Cooper and 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman. East Orange Board of Education President Bergson Leneus has been tapped to fill Green’s 3rd Ward council seat.
East Orange is different from other New Jersey municipal governments operating under the Faulkner Act because it has a 10-member council composed of two representatives from each of the city’s five wards rather than a system of single ward members and an odd number of at large members. The mayor’s seat and five ward seats are up for election at the same time, and two years later the other five ward seats are contested.
And since East Orange is a Democratic Party stronghold, primary election winners usually go on to win their seats in the general election; candidates who receive an endorsement from the East Orange Democratic Committee and Chairman Leroy Jones generally win. Jones has endorsed Green’s mayoral bid.
“When a candidate for office possesses government and municipal experience, coupled with legislative action on a local and state level, all of which serve to improve the quality of life for the citizens they serve, then I would commit that they stand ready for higher office,” said Jones, who also serves as the Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman. “Ted has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, his commitment, dedication, and compassion and enthusiasm for the people of this great city. Ted is synonymous with East Orange’s past, present and future and the best and most qualified person to serve as mayor.”
State Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who represents the 34th Legislative District, will serve as Green’s honorary campaign manager. Oliver helped bring Green’s local legislation prohibiting the sale of realistic-looking toy guns to school-age kids to the state Assembly, where a statewide version of the ban is being considered.
“More than any other time in history, our citizens are seeking servant-leaders,” said Oliver on Feb. 21. “Servant-leaders focus on the well-being and growth of people within the community, and prioritize inclusion. Such leaders possess the ability to always walk in another person’s shoes. Ted’s proven role as a civic and elected leader demonstrates that philosophy and his ability to lead our city as mayor will benefit the entire East Orange community.”
Green said Oliver was right about the urgent need for “servant leaders” and said he will kick off his mayoral campaign by going on a “listening tour” throughout East Orange “to hear what citizens are looking for in the mayor and ways to improve their quality of life.”
“Citizens deserve a voice in the city’s priorities,” Green said Feb. 21. “I look forward to meeting with individuals and groups and stakeholders of all ages about their ideas on making East Orange the best it can be. While there are a number of challenges ahead, I believe there are more opportunities for East Orange to experience greater progress. I want to thank the people of East Orange, particularly the 3rd Ward, for their vote of confidence for me to serve the citizens of our great city as a member of the city council, as chairman, and with your help and vote, as mayor.”