Six candidates vie for three open seats on the Irvington Township Council

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IRVINGTON, NJ — Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Irvington Township Council for the upcoming May 10 election. Running on the same ticket as incumbent Mayor Tony Vauss for reelection are Council President Renee Burgess, First Vice President October Hudley and Second Vice President Charnette Frederic. Paul Inman is challenging Vauss in the mayoral election, and running along with him for the council seats are challengers Yasmina King, Durrell Watford and Allison Morris.

Vauss, Burgess, Hudley and Frederic, who are running as Team Irvington Strong, launched their campaign on Feb. 5. Burgess, Hudley and Frederic did not return a request for comment by press time on May 3, but Vauss told the Irvington Herald in a phone interview on Jan. 15 that he and his team want to focus on safety with a new term.

“I decided to run again for the same reason I sought to become mayor in the first place, and that is to share my desire to make the township I love a great place to live,” he said. “I wanted to focus on two things: (the township being) safe and clean — so other people could see what a great place we live in. We still have so much work to get done.”

Irvington’s election is nonpartisan, though Democrats Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver endorsed Vauss in a statement on Feb. 21.

“Mayor Vauss and Team Irvington Strong have stood with us during some of our most challenging times during the pandemic,” Murphy said. “They have been fighters for the people of Irvington and inspired leaders dedicated to improving the lives of seniors, workers and families.”

In a phone interview with the Herald on May 2, Watford said he decided to run for a seat on the council because he is frustrated with the high taxes, the response time of the police department when they are called and the lack of street cleanliness.

“I want that to improve,” Watford said. “When you live in town, you want it to be clean. I also want to reduce crime in town and make sure the police are properly trained to respond to it. I’ve lived here for over 40 years, so I’ve seen what it was and what it became. Especially during the pandemic, I didn’t feel like the residents were getting the help they needed.”

A graduate of Irvington High School, Morris has lived in town since 1985. She decided to run for township council because she wants to see more recreation programming across the board, especially for youths. Morris also cited street cleaning as a priority if she wins the election, as well as working to make the air quality in town better.

“I think we can be better than what we are,” Morris said in a phone interview with the Herald on May 2. “We can do so much more for ourselves. We can foster the community environment better.”

Street cleaning is one of King’s top priorities as well, if she wins the election. She is also looking to expand programming for senior citizens in Irvington, as well as for youths in town. She wants to reopen the Irvington Senior Citizen Center.

“They don’t get to do much because their recreation center is closed,” King said in a phone interview with the Herald on May 2 about senior citizens. “I want them to be able to do something. I also think we don’t offer enough recreation for kids. They’re home babysitting each other, or parents have to find programs for them. I don’t want them to get in trouble and become a crime statistic.”

Election day is May 10.