Former BOE member sworn in as new South Ward councilwoman

Photo by Chris Sykes
Former Irvington Board of Education member Jamilah Beasley-MacLeod, right, takes the oath of office as her mother, Irvington Democratic Committee Chairwoman Baseemah Beasley, second from right, holds the Bible for her on Monday, April 22, during the Municipal Council’s regular meeting.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The Municipal Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Monday, April 22, to approve the appointment of former Irvington Board of Education member Jamillah Beasley-McCleod, to fill the South Ward council seat left vacant since the unexpected death of Councilwoman Sandy Jones on Thursday, March 21.

Beasley-McCleod is the daughter of D. Bilal Beasley, a former Municipal Council president and Essex County Freeholder.

Beasley-McCleod was sworn in by municipal clerk Harold Weiner while her mother, Baseemah, chairwoman of the Irvington Democratic Committee, held the Bible, along with other family members. Assembly members Tom Giblin, Cleopatra Tucker and Ralph Caputo were also in attendance.

Beasley-McCleod said she was grateful for the support.

“Everybody here is part of my support team, so I thank you,” she said Monday, April 22. “I want to thank the mayor and my council colleagues who I thank for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I breathe and live Irvington and I’m so looking forward to this opportunity.”

Beasley-McCleod said she also looks forward to carrying on what her father began.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the legacy of my father, the late Councilman D. Bilal Beasley, and the late Sandra Jones,” said Beasley-McCleod. “They did an awesome job in this town and I only hope to be half of what they are, but I’m going to do the best to represent the South Ward and Irvington as a whole. So I thank you, I thank you, I thank you.”

City Council President and North Ward Councilman David Lyons accepted Beasley-McCleod’s gratitude, but also returned it by thanking her for choosing to serve like her parents.

“You are South Ward,” said Lyons on Monday, April 22. “I know that you are aware and that you represent the people of the South Ward on this council. We work together and we’re happy to have you work with us and all of the people in here. Good luck.”

Mayor Tony Vauss echoed Lyons’ sentiments.

“Jamillah Beasley, daughter of the honorable D. Bilal Beasley and Baseemah Beasley, longtime resident here, employee here for 29 and a half years, has ascended to the South Ward council seat, after the passing of the late, great Sandra Jones, and it’s just an exciting time,” said Vauss on Monday, April 22. “I talk to people all the time and I say, if you look back over the last 25 to 30 years, and the South Ward seat has been held by either a Jones or a Beasley. She’s been here in the town and no one can object that she lives and breathes this every single day. It was in her blood, from her parents being involved in this, and I just thought it was a great selection.”

The mayor also thanked the council members for approving Beasley-McCleod to succeed Jones.

“I want to thank the Municipal Council for supporting and acknowledging that she’s the best person for this time and age, as being a part of the next generation of folks that are ready to just take the mantle and keep this thing going,” said Vauss.

Beasley-McCleod’s brother, Omar Bilal Beasley, of the Friends of Irvington Park and the Greater Grand Lodge Freemasons on Sanford Avenue, agreed with Vauss, thanking the mayor and council for choosing his sister.

“It’s so ironic that she’s starting in the same seat that he started in,” said Omar Bilal on Tuesday, April 23. “It’s a legacy that we, as a family, want to continue. Jamillah was born in Irvington, she went to school in Irvington, she was raised in Irvington, so when she said ‘I breathe Irvington,’ she was correct.”

Omar Bilal said he sister is ready to take on the task of serving the town and the Irvington community on the Municipal Council, after having served for years on the Irvington Board of Education, but even before that, too.

“She was born at a time when my father was just getting into politics, so she was right there through it all,” said Omar Bilal. “She was knocking on doors, when she was old enough to walk. She was phone banking, when she got to the point where she could talk. She was working the phones. She was putting in her work, every aspect of politics and politicking, and … I think she’s ready.”