IRVINGTON, NJ — Mayor Tony Vauss honored clergy from Newark and Irvington on Thursday, Feb. 28, during his fifth annual State of the Township Address at Christian Pentecostal Church on Clinton Avenue.
Honorees at the event included: Bishops Victor D. Agee, James H. Everett, Rudy V. Carlton and Timothy L. Pernell Jr.; Pastors Rodger J. Harris, David Jefferson, Amos J. Malone, Linwood McNeil, Reginald Pitts, Jerry Smith and Brandon K. Washington; and the Revs. Elveus Sylvain and William Rutherford II.
Vauss also played a special video tribute to Lebby Jones, the former at large municipal councilwoman, county freeholder and Team Irvington social and political organization co-founder who died of cancer earlier this year. He also honored Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who was unable to attend the event, but sent the Rev. Derrick Green to represent her. Green is Gov. Phil Murphy’s senior advisor on diversity, faith, urban and regional growth.
“We had a night of honor, so I thought it was only right to honor someone who has achieved so much for us, as a people, to where we began and where we are now,” said Vauss on Thursday, Feb. 28. “I don’t know if many of you have been watching the news of what’s going on down in Washington, but the struggle is real. And if you’re not careful, they’ll turn back the hands of time.”
“We heard the struggle secondhand,” he continued. “But those of you that were there, that bled, that cried, that even died, so that people like myself and these council members can have the opportunity to be up here, speaking before you, I am humbly grateful for this opportunity. And another pioneer that I wanted to honor tonight with the Irvington Lifetime Achievement Award is our lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver.”
Green accepted the award on Oliver’s behalf.
“It is an absolute honor for me to be here on behalf of a transformational, awesome woman in Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver,” Green said. “She is an amazing person. I always say the lieutenant governor has a Ph.D. in New Jersey. She knows New Jersey and she loves this state and she loves this county and this city.”
“She and I were talking the other day and she is very proud of this mayor and council. You all have an awesome leadership team in your mayor and council,” he continued. “When you talk about the safest cities in New Jersey, you have to talk about Irvington. When you talk about the cleanest cities in this state, you have to talk about Irvington, New Jersey. And when you talk about the best places to live in the state of New Jersey, you have to talk about Irvington, New Jersey. … This lieutenant governor accepts this award because this city is moving in the right direction under Vauss leadership.”
Green then spoke to Vauss, saying, “God has placed you here at this time, and this council, and the reason why you’re successful is because you all work together. … There is strength in unity and we all applaud you for that.”
Rutherford, who was the minister at Greater New Point Missionary Baptist Church for 38 years before recently retiring, also spoke at the event.
“We thank God for this night for it is special in the lives of our people. You know, when I look around tonight and see all of you, it makes me proud and happy to know a man like Mayor Vauss, who has moved Irvington in an upward way, and you know the best is yet to come.”
Vauss thanked everyone for their words and support since he took office in 2014. He also said he still needs support to help Irvington get to where they all want the township to be.
“The Rev. Rutherford thinks he can get away by retiring,” said Vauss. “He’s probably gotten more recognition once he decided to retire than he’s got in all these years saving souls. It was an honor for me to be onsite, to acknowledge him and, here in the township of Irvington, we have a street named after the great pastor.”