EAST ORANGE, NJ — Emotions were running high at the crowded intersection of Steuben and Winthrop streets in East Orange on Tuesday, Feb. 21, where hundreds gathered to witness City Council Chairman and 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green announce his 2017 mayoral campaign.
Green is running for mayor with the blessing and endorsement of his friend and mentor, Leroy Jones, chairman of the East Orange Democratic Committee and Essex County Democratic Committee, who gave him the coveted party line on the ballot in the Democratic primary on tuesday, June 6, which, in this predominantly Democratic stronghold, practically guarantees victory in the Nov. 7 election.
Since incumbent Mayor Lester Taylor has decided not to run for re-election, Green now tops the East Orange Democratic Committee slate that includes incumbents 1st Ward Councilman Chris James; 2nd Ward Councilman Romal Bullock; 4th Ward Councilwoman Tyshammie Cooper; and 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman; as well as newcomer and current East Orange Board of Education President Bergson Leneus, who is running for Green’s soon-to-be vacant 3rd Ward seat.
Former Assembly speaker Sheila Oliver is Green’s honorary campaign manager and Jones said the “Green Team” ticket would include herself, Assemblyman Tom Giblin and Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders President Britnee Timberlake.
Green said he’s grateful for that support from all his friends, including Jones, the chairman of both the East Orange Democratic Committee and Essex County Democratic Committee.
“To my friend, Leroy Jones, thank you, brother,” Green said Tuesday, Feb. 21, adding that Jones has been both a mentor and a friend.
“I’m standing here today because, not only his leadership, not only because the decision he made for me to be here today and feel that I can lead this city, and I’m very grateful, Leroy. I’m very grateful.”
Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss said he understands Green’s emotions and the sentiments he expressed, but friendship wasn’t the only reason why Jones decided to endorse Green and give him the party line in both elections.
“I believe that he believes in Ted; he believes in the progress and the push in this city to make things better and they’re all in this together,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Feb. 21. “Leroy has been a great chairman for the city of East Orange, so he knows their concerns, he knows what’s needed. And also as chairman of the Essex County Democratic Party. So two of my favorite people in leadership positions over here being able to move this city forward, it helps out Irvington for what we’re trying to do. So I just look forward to it. God bless Ted and we’re here in Irvington to help him in any way that we can.”
According to Vauss, the best thing about Green his friend’s passion for serving his community.
“It’s being from the community; when you’re from the community, you have an investment in the community and you want to see your community grow and prosper,” said Vauss. “Ted is homegrown here. Everyone knows Ted, they know what Ted is about, they know his contributions many years prior to this moment, and it’s just leading up to something good when you’re homegrown. … And that’s why we’re here today in support of Ted Green for mayor of East Orange.”
Jones agreed with Vauss’ assessment and noted the emotionally charged atmosphere that surrounded Green’s announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I was getting a little nervous because I’m just glad he stopped rolling up his sleeves because I didn’t know if he was coming out of everything,” said Jones with a laugh on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in reference to Green actually taking off his suit jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves in front of the crowd, eliciting laughs and cheers. “But that’s OK, because he’s excited but, guess what; so are all of us or we wouldn’t be here today.”
“This is a good day, but I want you to understand one thing: this is the first day of this campaign; this campaign kicks off right here and now,” said Jones. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to walk every neighborhood in this community; we are going to knock every door in this community; we are not taking one thing for granted. You are in the heart of the Democratic Party. This is the belly of the beast. This is the city of East Orange. We take no short cuts. We only look for victory. There’s going to be victory with Ted Green. Ladies and gentlemen, join me, join me, join me. Let’s go Green in 17.”
East Orange hip-hop artist Vinny Brown, of the rap group Naughty By Nature, said he’s already aboard with Team Green in 2017.
“Congratulations on Ted Green finally running,” Brown said Tuesday, Feb. 21. “I know he’s been patient. He’s been in the trenches. He’s all about East Orange … so he brought it back home to make this announcement. Good luck and we in the trenches are for you, brother.”
Communications Workers Association of America Local 1077 President Benny Brantley and his was present at the announcement with other union members.
“Ted Green running for mayor would be a good thing for East Orange; he will keep East Orange moving in a forward direction towards urban excellence,” Brantley said, adding, “I will continue to do what I do for the workers of the city of East Orange, regardless who’s in the seat of the mayor. The workers are the workers and my support is for the workers. But Ted Green is a people’s person and he will do what right for the workers without hurting the city or the taxpayers. He will do the right thing.” He added, “the future of East Orange will always be bright” with Green or any other mayor, because “we have nowhere to go but up.”
Former East Orange Senior Services Director and East Orange Democratic Committee member Catherine Willis agreed with Brantley, saying it was evident from reaction to Green’s Feb. 21 announcement that Green was the right man, at the right time in the right place in East Orange in 2017.
“I’m all the way with this,” said Willis on Tuesday, Feb. 21. “At last, we’ve got a home run and we’re happy and we’re proud of him. He needed the community to get behind him for him to do the right thing and we got behind him and did just that. We are all the way Green for 2017.”