ORANGE, NJ — Orange City Council President and East Ward Councilman Kerry Coley and at large Councilman Chris Jackson, the newly-elected council vice president, agree that dealing with the challenges presented by Mayor Dwayne Warren’s 2018 budget proposal will be their top priority, now that the governing body’s new leadership has been settled.
“The department-focused hearings are completed, but the council has a working session on Thursday, July 12, to consider each line in the budget,” said Jackson on Monday, July 2. “We have a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, July 11, so we won’t be voting on the budget until our meeting in August. I also want to urge all of our constituents in the city to stay cool in this heat.”
Orange city clerk Joyce Lanier confirmed council has a work session regarding the proposed city budget set for Thursday, July 12, at 7 p.m.
Coley said the council’s budget hearings, which began Friday, June 8, came to an end Thursday, June 28.
“We had the budget public hearing last Friday,” said Johnson on Sunday, July 1. “It was televised and the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee gave their report. No, we have not voted to approve the budget yet. We have to have a council budget work session.”
Both Coley and Jackson were elected to serve in their new positions by their council colleagues at the council’s reorganization meeting on Sunday, July 1. At that meeting Coley and the three other incumbent council members who were re-elected — North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason, South Ward Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson and West Ward Councilman Harold Johnson — were certified and sworn-in for the next four years.
“I’m excited, honored and humbled that my council colleagues chose me to lead the council for another year,” said Coley. “My priority will be to work more closely and efficiently with all council members and the administration, while moving Orange in the right direction.”
Jackson also thanked his fellow council members for choosing him to serve as council vice president for the first time. He was elected to office in 2016, as part of Coley’s Home Team slate, during Coley’s unsuccessful mayoral run against Warren, who was seeking re-election to a second term in office.
Although Coley lost his bid for mayor, two members of his slate, Jackson and at large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams, won in 2016. Their teammate lost out to current at large Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten, who ran alone as an unaffiliated candidate that year.
But now Wooten, Johnson, Summers-Johnson and Williams, who voted in favor of Coley and Jackson on Sunday, July 1, will be working together. Eason did not vote for Coley or Jackson at the council’s reorganization meeting because she was being hospitalized at the time, and was sworn in there.
Eason is out of the hospital now, which means she will be joining Coley, Jackson and the rest of the governing body at the proposed budget work session. Jackson said he is eager to take a leadership role on the council.
“Thanks for the opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to my colleagues, who affirmed my nomination,” said Jackson on Monday, July 2. “I appreciate their support and confidence in my ability to perform in that capacity. I am honored to serve as council vice president and will support the continuing progress of our body.”
Jackson also agreed it’s time to review and possibly revise Warren’s budget proposal. Recently, city business administrator Chris Hartwyk revealed there is a $7.1 million deficit in the Calendar Year 2018 proposed budget on Tuesday, May 29, in a letter to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, asking for permission to implement a series of layoffs, furloughs and demotions to fill it.
“My priorities are to enhance the efficiency of our service to the citizens of Orange, by ensuring my decisions are based on the overlying premise that my actions are in the best interest of our city, to prioritize accountability for myself and the rest of its public servants and to facilitate an increase in the active participation of folks that depend on our government to participate in its pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness,” Jackson said. “I believe that citizenship is more than casting a vote or pointing out issues of concern, but also using your skills to make positive change in our city.”