Wingfield-Hill withdraws from Orange council race

ORANGE, NJ — Orange Board of Education member Kyleesha Wingfield-Hill has formally withdrawn from the race for the East Ward City Council seat, according to Orange officials and her campaign manager, Akeem Cunningham.

Wingfield-Hill had filed nominating petitions to run against incumbent East Ward Councilman and City Council President Kerry Coley in the East Ward in the non-partisan city election on Tuesday, May 8. But Orange City Clerk Joyce Lanier disqualified Wingfield-Hill from running, due to questions about her residency status in the ward.

Wingfield-Hill challenged Lanier’s determination and filed a show cause legal complaint in Newark Municipal Court that Judge Tom Vena heard Tuesday, March 13. She had been scheduled to appear before Vena again on Monday, April 2, but didn’t show.

“I spoke to her yesterday and she said she’s not running anymore,” said Cunningham on Tuesday, April 3. “I don’t know what happened at the court hearing, but when I talked to her, she said she had decided not run for the East Ward seat even before that.”

Lanier confirmed Wingfield-Hill is no longer running for Coley’s seat. The official candidates’ positions on the ballot stand as follows: In the West Ward, Michael Scott on line 1A, incumbent Councilman Harold L. Johnson on line 2A, and former Councilman Hassan Abdul-Rasheed on line 3A; in the South Ward, Brandon Matthews on line 1A, and incumbent Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson on line 2A; in the North Ward, incumbent Councilwoman Tency Eason on line 1A, and challenger Sharief Williams on line 2A.; and in the East Ward, Coley on line 1A, and challenger Dawan Alford on line 2A.

Lanier had initially disqualified Scott regarding residency questions in the West Ward, but Scott also filed a show cause legal complaint with the Newark Superior Court. Scott was given one day to prove his residency in the West Ward and did so in time to participate in the ballot drawing Wednesday, March 14.

“According to my interpretation of the statute and with the advice of my election counsel, in order to run for an elected position in a ward, you need to live in that ward for one year before the election. That was the case with both, according to their voter registration profiles,” said Lanier on Monday, March 12

“The number of signed petitions needed to run for public office varies from ward to ward, based on the number of registered voters in each ward,” said Lanier on Monday, Jan. 22. “For the North Ward, you need 37 valid signatures. For the East Ward, it’s 44 signatures. West Ward is 34 and South Ward is 47.”

Once the requisite number of petitions needed for each ward were turned in, Lanier said she had to check them, to make sure the numbers are correct and verify the signatures actually belong to people qualified to sign them. Once that was done, she released an official list of fully certified candidates eligible to run in the election.