EAST ORANGE, NJ — Irvington was well-represented at the East Orange City Council’s annual reorganization meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 1, with Irvington Democratic Committee Chairman Baseemah Beasley and South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones present.
“Happy New Year to everyone,” said Beasley on Tuesday, Jan. 1. “This was a well-attended event for the council and we represent Irvington well, and this is our sister city. I’m wishing everyone a happy New Year and prosperous new year and 2019 is going to be better for everyone, including the United States of America.”
Beasley, the widow of former Municipal Council President and Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley, did not stay to participate in the seventh and last day of East Orange’s first-ever citywide Kwanzaa celebration, but she was wearing a pair of red, black and green eyeglasses that fit with the theme of the Afrocentric holiday.
Jones, a native New Yorker who came to Irvington years ago, said at the event, “We’re here because we came to the swearing-in ceremony of the East Orange council members. They had a lovely ceremony. The mayor spoke well and it reminded me of the ‘One Team One Dream’ philosophy that everyone has to work together.”
Ted Green has close ties to Irvington; a friend of Mayor Tony Vauss, he served as his 2013 mayoral campaign manager and as Irvington’s Building Department director from 2013 to 2017, when he was elected mayor in East Orange. Based on that, Jones said it’s easy to understand how Green’s remarks during the reorganization could echo the work ethic she, Beasley, Vauss and the rest of their Team Irvington Strong members share.
“It works here,” said Jones. “I know he did make a statement that everybody has to work together and they are a team and that is a good philosophy, because we all have to work together as a team.”
Jones has been the South Ward councilwoman for 16 years, and said she’s not ready to retire from public service yet.
“I’ve been a councilwoman since 2002,” said Jones. “There’s always work to be done. There’s always another bridge to conquer. It’s always something else. We have to deal with whatever’s coming our way in 2019, which I’m sure is going to be beneficial to the residents of Irvington. The mayor’s doing a great job.”
At the meeting, incumbent council Chairman and 1st Ward Councilman Chris James was re-elected chairman, although not with a co-leader yet, said city clerk Cynthia Brown.
“I think, when you talk about the mayor’s remarks during the reorganization meeting, the principles of Kwanzaa is something that we embrace here and that’s why we’re here,” said 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Awe at the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 1, during the city’s official observance of the last day of Kwanzaa. “And so, that last principle of faith, we’re all here on faith and success, and that’s why we’re committed to this city. So it’s a beautiful thing.”
“It’s a pleasure. It’s always enlightening to be on this side of the rail, after all the years of being on the other side of the rail,” said Awe, whose name is pronounced “Ah-Way.” “But everyone that’s been on this side of the rail has been on the other side of the rail, so we know what it takes to be a resident here and the issues and we take it personal. So that’s how we legislate, that’s how we lead, that’s how we commit ourselves to the city.”
Garrett-Ward also had her first taste of representing the 4th Ward when she, Awe, and her 4th Ward council partner, Councilman Casim Gomez, represented the governing body at the Kwanzaa celebration, and formally welcomed everyone to the event.