EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor hosted his third annual Mayor’s Ball at The Castle Sheraton Parsippany Hotel on Saturday, March 5, with 800 guests coming out to party with the man that has made turning his city into a model of urban excellence and a destination city the twin goals of his administration.
“There’s strength in numbers; you act together and that just shows you how much unity there is in the urban community of Essex County and I think that we are symbolic of the transformational leadership happening statewide,” said Taylor on Saturday, March 5. “I would just like to think that tonight’s turnout is a testament to the good job that we’re doing in East Orange. But I have to always say we have to go from good to great, so we have more work to do.”
Taylor said he “appreciates the confidence and faith that everybody is placing in me in taking the time to come out tonight.” But he said he has only been successful as a leader because of all the support he gets from “the thousand employees we have that are actually doing the work.”
“I just set the tone and the vision and they actually carry it out and I’m appreciative of them working hard every day for the 65,000 people in East Orange,” said Taylor. “The most humbling thing is people buying into the vision of urban excellence, becoming a destination city. When our team first established that vision, a senior citizen asked me: ‘Mayor we ain’t got no water and we ain’t got no palm trees in East Orange; how we going to be a destination city?’ And my response was neither does Woodbridge, but they have parking. So our location, for transportation, for accessibility by car, by rail, is the destination that we have in our city, and we have to capitalize, in the best sense of the word, on that opportunity, to attract investment into our communities for retail, for residential, so that families will want to come and raise their children, but equally, if not more important, the children that are being raised there want to come back to the community that gave them so much.”
Many of Taylor’s guests, including his fellow “Young Guns,” municipal leaders such as Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss and other elected officials, such as U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., said they were glad they came out to party with one of their own. They also said an event such as this serves a dual purpose beyond recreation and socializing.
“Every year, I come out to support our sister city and our great mayor from the city of East Orange, Lester Taylor,” said Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss on Saturday, March 5, who entertained a crowd of more than 800 at his first Mayor’s Ball last year. “He had quite a few people here; I think he had about 700 people. It’s a great turnout. I guess people are starting to really catch on to all of the great work that he’s doing in the city of East Orange and I’m just happy to be here to share the moment with him.”
Vauss said, “Each mayor has his own Mayor’s Ball.” And he said the good thing about them is “it’s a time to get everybody together, celebrate and also do some fundraising.”
East Orange Democratic Committee Chairman and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones agreed with Vauss, saying, based on the turnout for Taylor’s Mayor’s Ball, it looks like he was right to support him in his run for mayor against a successful and popular incumbent such as former Mayor Robert Bowser.
“It’s bigger than ever and that’s a testament to a great volunteer staff that Lester has assembled and the spirit of the community coming together and people believing in East Orange and this vision of a destination city,” said Jones on Saturday, March 5. “I can’t express how proud I am of the mayor that he’s become, but that has a lot to do with the man that he is. I say it all the time: He has been an exceptional leader, an exceptional visionary and I think the future is shining bright for Lester and the city of East Orange and I’m just very, very pleased.”
Jones said he’s “just a link in a chain,” when it comes to the team that he, Taylor, Vauss and others refer to often. He said, “I play a role and all of us have a role,” when it comes to the transformational leadership Taylor said was sweeping across New Jersey.
“When it’s time to execute, everybody knows what their position is and they play those positions well and that signifies what a team is all about,” said Jones. “In 2016, we’ve got presidential and congressional elections; county surrogate and county committee; and we expect, as always, that we’re going to do what we have to do to make sure East Orange and Essex County does well for Democratic standard bearer Hillary Clinton. By the time June rolls around, I think she’ll have it wrapped. Then we move into 2017 and that’s when it’s going to be on and popping.”
East Orange City Council Chairman and 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green is also the director of Irvington’s Housing Department, working in the Vauss administration in that township. He was at Taylor’s third annual Mayor’s Ball and said Jones was right about it “being on and popping” on Saturday, March 5.
“We had an expungement workshop this morning, where 125 people came out to get their records expunged and get that cloud out from over their heads and we expunged again at night,” said Green on Saturday, March 5. “My name starts with a ‘T’ and my mayor’s name starts with a ‘T’ and those ‘T’s know how to throw a good party. I’m just saying. But seriously, I think what we all proclaim, as elected officials, is that it’s about serving the people that voted you in and have confidence in you and we are the voices for those people. And that’s a job we all take seriously, even when we’re partying and having a good time.”