Orange incumbents sweep ward election

ORANGE, NJ — The incumbents carried the day, according to the unofficial results of the Tuesday, May 8, Orange City Council election, posted on Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin’s official website; re-elected were East Ward Councilman and council President Kerry Coley, West Ward Councilman Harold Johnson, South Ward Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson and North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason.

Eason won a fifth consecutive term in the North Ward by defeating challenger, Sharief Williams, with 215 votes to his 105, with 32 write-in votes.

Summers-Johnson narrowly defeated challenger Brandon Matthews in the South Ward, 332 votes to 329, with two write-in votes.

Coley faced a stiff challenge from Dawan Alford, but managed to hold onto his East Ward seat by defeating him 443 votes to 364, with 13 write-in votes.

Johnson came out first in the three-way race in the West Ward by overcoming challenges from former Councilman Hassan Abdul-Rasheed and former Orange High School football and basketball star Mike Scott, getting 210 votes to their 104 and 69 votes, respectively, with one write-in vote.

According to Johnson, Orange voters have spoken again and this time sided with the incumbents, and he was humbled by this.

“I would like to thank the West Ward voters and all the volunteers on Election Day. I’m really excited to serve a second term. It was a clear electoral victory. The voters spoke loud and clear,” said Johnson on Monday, May 14. “I delivered on my promise to go to City Hall and find out how our tax dollars are being spent. My report to the people was not pretty. The administration has to do a much better with spending tax dollars and delivering essential services.”

Coley agreed that since the election is now finished, it’s time to “put politics aside” and focus on this year’s budget, although Mayor Dwayne Warren has not yet introduced it.

“I just humbly thank the voters of the East Ward for believing in me for a second term and I will continue to serve the people of the East Ward and the city of Orange Township, to the best of my ability,” said Coley on Monday, May 14. “My priority is our budget; getting our finances under control. Once we do that, then we can … discuss other things. But the budget is my top priority.”

Eason said she’s going into her fifth council term with the same energy, focus and priorities she had when first elected almost 20 years ago.

“I feel elated, because the North Ward was appreciative of my work for them, that they gave me a fifth term. I want to thank them for their support and confidence in me,” said Eason on Monday, May 14. “My priorities are a recreation facility for our kids and the community, improving the quality of education, cleaning up the North Ward and addressing empty and abandoned housing, and better communication between the administration and our senior citizens, to provide better services. We also had a low overall voter turnout this year, so I want to help our community become better educated on the policies and procedures, so that they have an interest to come out and vote.”

Low voter turnout was not an issue for Summers-Johnson. During her re-election campaign, she noted the “South Ward always leads the way” and this proved to be true, since more people voted in the South Ward than in any other ward.

“I am grateful to the residents of the South Ward for voting to re-elect me to continue the important work we are doing in that ward. Given the vast improvements that are planned for the South Ward, it is an exciting time to serve as a councilperson,” said Summers-Johnson on Monday, May 14. “I encourage all residents to pick up their skills, talents and interests and join in our efforts to continue to make positive change in the South Ward. Beginning June 15, please join me as we kick off the first leg of my annual door-to-door town hall meetings, to address resident concerns.”

The Orange City Council swearing-in ceremony and reorganization meeting is set for Monday, July 2.