Mayor looks back and then ahead

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IRVINGTON — Mayor Tony Vauss presented an Irvington State of the Township address for 2024 last week, looking at past accomplishments, future goals and celebrating everything Irvington.

“We don’t want to just talk about it, we want to show you the progress we made,” Vauss said.

The event took place Thursday, March 14, in the Transcend Worship Center on Clinton Avenue, starting at about 6 p.m. with a welcome and introduction from Jerry Smith, pastor of the Worship Center.

“Thanks everyone for coming to this great occasion so we can inform you about what is going on in Irvington,” Smith said to the packed house of at least 600 people.

Donald Mally, who is director of the Parks and Recreation department, acted as the host for the evening. Musa Malik, township business administrator, introduced a video featuring members of the township council talking about their committee assignments.

A second video introduced the audience to leading members of the municipal government, including the municipal clerk, assistant business administrator, township attorney, chief financial officer, public safety director, fire chief and other heads of departments across the government.

The mayor’s chief of staff, Tony Vauss Jr., acknowledged certain people in the audience including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker, Assemblywoman Garnet R. Hall, several Essex County Commissioners among others.

Gospel singer Andrew Potts Jr. sang “Miracles, Signs, Wonders,” which had some in the audience on their feet, clapping along.

A year in review video followed highlighting numerous township events held during the previous year, including Unity Day, National Night Out and the Holiday Lighting ceremony.

The Irvington High School Color Guard presented the colors and a Pledge of Allegiance followed.

Members of the police and fire departments marched in formation into the worship center while music played, moving in unison to the music at one point, before the mayor was formally introduced to a standing ovation.

The mayor made is way down the center aisle, shaking hands as he went, before taking the podium to speak.

Vauss pointed out some of the positive changes that have taken place since he took office in 2014 including; a homicide rate down 70 percent; robberies down 58.3 percent; and burglaries down 85 percent.

“Together we will build a community that is both clean and safe and everyone can thrive,” Vauss said.

The mayor also encouraged everyone to vote in the fall, saying this year it was more important than ever to vote. He mentioned former President Donald Trump saying he, in effect, enabled racism and questioning him for thinking Black people would want to buy his sneakers or the T-shirt with his mug shot on it.

“My fellow elected officials and I understand we can’t have 91 felony charges and run for president,” Vauss said, later adding; “We’ve come too far to turn back the hands of time.”

Vauss also gave a shout out to a special guest in attendance, actress Tisha Campbell, a Newark native who has appeared in a variety of movies and television shows including “Martin” and “My Wife and Kids.”

“She used to live on Stuyvesant Avenue, she knows Irvington,” Vauss said.

Vauss concluded by introducing his wife, April Vauss, who is superintendent of the Irvington Public School District. April Vauss gave a rundown of things going on in the schools before awards were given to residents and police promotions were announced.