Irvington voters have limited choices for this election

IRVINGTON, NJ — When Irvington voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 8, there won’t be many choices to make, since incumbent Mayor Tony Vauss is running unopposed and his Team Irvington Strong running mates, incumbent Councilwomen Renee Burgess, October Hudley and Charnette Frederic, are only facing one opponent.

When township clerk Harold Wiener held the official ballot drawing for candidates’ positions, Vauss wound up sitting alone atop the ballot on line 1-A because he is unopposed. Barnes Reid, an Irvington substitute teacher and Irvington High School track coach is at line 2-B, running for one of the three at large council seats currently occupied by Burgess at 3-B, Hudley at 4-B and Frederic at 5-B.

Vauss said that while he’s running unopposed he won’t be taking the election for granted. He said he plans to continue campaigning hard, as if he were an underdog facing stiff competition from an organized opponent.

“It feels good, but I’m not even mentioning it,” said Vauss on Tuesday, April 3. “I’m running like I am being opposed on May 8. I don’t want the drop off. I don’t want people to take anything for granted.”

Vauss said he couldn’t ignore the historic context of this year’s election, however, and what the lack of any organized opposition to his re-election means to the Team Irvington Strong organization and its vision of “One team, one dream.”

“This is the second time ever that a mayor is running for re-election (in Irvington) unopposed,” Vauss said. “The first was Wayne Smith, back when he ran for re-election and Craig Stanley was supposed to run against him. Once Stanley dropped out of that race, that was it. We plan to continue working hard, changing people’s perceptions about Irvington and making this town clean and safe for everyone.”

“Back when I was running for mayor in 2014, I knew that I was going to win, because I was running with three dynamic, intelligent, accomplished women,” said Vauss on Friday, Feb. 23.

Hudley said she feels fortunate to be a member of Team Irvington Strong and running for a second consecutive term in office on a ticket headed by Vauss.

“I want to continue to strive for our mission to make Irvington clean and safe, and I would like to also be part of Mayor Tony Vauss’ initiative to continue with our mission,” said Hudley on Monday, April 30, during the small business tour of Super Fresh supermarket on Lyons Avenue, Frontline Industries on Chancellor Avenue and Chef Roscoe restaurant on Springfield Avenue.

“We’re doing a fabulous job. I have so many residents that are very pleased with the direction that the township is heading and I also want to make sure that we continue with the progress that we’re making.”

Hudley said she also wants to “empower people — men, women, children — and let them know that education is very important and community service is very important.”

Like Hudley, Reid is a retired educator who used to work full-time in the Irvington public schools, but now works as a substitute teacher. He’s running alone against Vauss’ team because his erstwhile running mates, Elouise McDaniel and Allison Morris, did not have enough nominating petitions certified by to get a place on the ballot.

Reid did manage to get 292 petitions certified and approved, enough to run. Reid said he would have liked to run for office alongside McDaniel and Morris, but he’s not afraid of going up against Team Irvington Strong alone.

“I’m running for council because I’ve lived in Irvington for 15 years, even though I’m actually from Newark,” said Reid on Thursday, April 5, at the Irvington NAACP monthly meeting that also doubled as the local Civil Rights organization’s official Board of Education Candidates Night Forum. “I’m running out of frustration. I taught in Irvington for 33 years. I’m a 39-year track coach in Irvington. I plant seeds in Irvington and I want to see them grow and prosper outside of the shadow of everything that might harm them or stunt their growth, including the powerful Team Irvington Strong organization.”