Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, East Orange Mayor Ted Green shakes hands with Mayor Tony Vauss on Friday, Feb. 26, during Vauss’ fourth annual State of the Township Address. Green was one of the surprise award recipients at the event.IRVINGTON, NJ — Although Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss’ fourth annual State of the Township Address on Friday, Feb. 23, may have been in Christian Pentecostal Church on Clinton Avenue in Irvington, with a list of attendees that included numerous county officials, such as Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and Leroy Jones, chairman of the East Orange and Essex County Democratic committees, it was really a county event.
“As you see, here in Irvington, we believe in ‘One Team One Dream.’ That’s why we do this together as one unit,” said Vauss on Friday, Feb. 23. “There’s no separation here. We’re all family and we work as one in the township of Irvington.”
Vauss and Jones were quick to note that Irvington does not exist in a void and the municipality is part of the larger Essex County family of municipalities.
“Essex County is a wonderful county that separates itself from the 21 other counties that make up the state of New Jersey … And the reason that has been accomplished is because we have had a leader that has had a vision and had, much like Tony Vauss, a passion to serve people,” Jones said in his introduction of DiVincenzo.
Jones said DiVincenzo, in his fifth term, was “receiving this special achievement award for all his commitment and all his desire and his simple passion to just do what’s right.”
DiVincenzo mounted the stage to thunderous applause from a standing ovation and admitted he was surprised to be honored.
“First of all, I’m a little surprised. I didn’t expect this, but I accept this on behalf of the 3,500 county employees that truly deserve the credit in what we’ve done in Essex County. It takes a team and I have the best team in the state of New Jersey, just like Tony Vauss,” DiVincenzo said. “Tony Vauss has got the best team in the state of New Jersey.
“I just want to say one thing tonight to the clergy, to the entire staff, to the council, to Irvington. Chairwoman Beasley, nine years ago, Bilal Beasley, freeholder at that time, came to me and he says: ‘There’s this young leader that I want to introduce you to. I believe this guy could be the next mayor. I think he can take Irvington where it needs to go.’ I didn’t know who Tony Vauss was. Then my son comes up to me he said: ‘Dad, you got to meet this young guy, Tony Vauss.’ He says: ‘This guy’s a true leader.’ Now my son’s not a politician, but he was absolutely right. Bilal Beasley was absolutely right.”
DiVincenzo went on to laud Vauss for his leadership and successful team-building efforts in Irvington for the last four years.
“Tony, I am so proud of you and what you have done with this town. You lead Irvington. You put the residents first all the time. And, as we sit here, we see what’s been done here and he never takes the credit himself,” DiVincenzo said. “It’s always about the people in Irvington and the people that work for him. All I’m asking is for the council and the mayor to stick together and be one and always put Irvington first. Thank you.”
Vauss, in turn, thanked DiVincenzo, particularly for going to bat for the township on several occasions, including during negotiations with former Gov. Chris Christie’s administration regarding a funding grant credit that local developer and International House of Pancakes restaurant owner Adenah Bayoh and her Hilltop Project group needed to facilitate the redevelopment of the old Irvington General Hospital site at the top of Chancellor Avenue.
“She and her partners needed this tax credit from the state, but they were getting a hard time from officials in the Christie administration,” Vauss said of Bayoh. “So I called the county executive and told him what the problem was and he told me to hold on, because he would call me back. He called back and told me and Adenah Bayoh and her partners to meet him in Trenton the next day and we went down there and he fought so hard and advocated so loudly for something that was good for Irvington that, the next day, the state officials called us up in Irvington and asked us what we needed. That’s the kind of guy that Joe D. is and the kind of leader that we have in Essex County. My friend and mentor, the honorable D. Bilal Beasley, always told me that politics is about relationships and he was right. The people of Irvington and Essex County are lucky to have the kind of relationships that we do with our county executive.”