ORANGE, NJ — Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren has partnered with the Orange Peer Youth Council to schedule a series of candidates night forums for the nine official Orange City Council candidates on the ballot for the municipal election set for Tuesday, May 8.
The debates will be at the Orange Public Library, running from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 9, for the North Ward; Monday, April 16, for the South Ward; Monday, April 23, for the East Ward; and Monday, April 30, for the West Ward.
“Come see candidates for the Orange City Council speak out on the issues,” said Warren in an email blast Tuesday, March 20. “It’s free and open to the public.”
According to Joyce Lanier, the city clerk, the nine candidates are: Michael Scott on line 1-A, incumbent Councilman Harold L. Johnson on line 2-A, and former Councilman Hassan Abdul-Rasheed on line 3-A in the West Ward. Brandon Matthews will be on line 1-A and incumbent Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson on line 2-A in the South Ward. Incumbent Councilwoman Tency Eason will be on line 1-A and challenger Sharief Williams on line 2-A in the North Ward. And incumbent Councilman and council President Kerry Coley will be on line 1-A and challenger Dawan Johnson on line 2-A in the East Ward.
Current Orange Board of Education member Kyleesha Wingfield-Hill filed nominating petitions to run against Coley and Johnson in the West Ward, but Lanier disqualified her from running, due to questions about her residency status in the ward.
Lanier also initially disqualified Scott from running for the same reasons as Wingfield-Hill, so both filed legal show cause complaints in Newark Municipal Court that Judge Tom Vena heard on Tuesday, March 13. Scott was given one day to prove his residency in the West Ward and did so in time to participate in the ballot drawing Wednesday, March 14.
Wingfield-Hill did not participate in the ballot drawing and is not officially on the ballot; however, Vena ruled she must appear before him again on Monday, April 2, to show cause in a hearing to have Lanier’s disqualification overturned so that she can participate in the East Ward race.
According to Orange Peer Youth Council member Louis Copeland, “The Orange Peer Youth Council (is) a group of young adults who attend Orange High School and are actively involved with community change. … The young people sponsor many forums throughout the city of Orange. When they sponsor an event, a request is always extended, requesting the support of the mayor and others; however, the forum is conducted only by the members of the Orange Peer Youth.
“The lesson we are trying to teach the young people is one of unity and working together to bring about positive change.”