EAST ORANGE, NJ — PBA Local 16 of the East Orange Police Department hosted its Mayoral Candidates Night Forum on Wednesday, May 17, at Peaceful Zion Baptist Church for the three candidates running for mayor of East Orange in the Democratic Party primary election Tuesday, June 6.
But 3rd Ward Councilman, City Council Chairman and 2017 mayoral candidate Ted Green didn’t participate in the forum, so his opponents, John Thompson Jr. and Kenwyn S. Williams, had the spotlight all to themselves — a rarity in this election given Green’s popularity and name recognition throughout East Orange.
But Green’s absence begs the question: How relevant could the forum have been if the candidate seen as the frontrunner did not participate in it?
Attempts to contact PBA Local 16 President Elaine Settle were unsuccessful by press time this week.
Green and his Green Team in 2017 running mate, 3rd Ward City Council candidate Bergson Leneus, did appear on the “Changemakers Show” on Internet radio station RTH2000 on Saturday, May 20, a show run by former 5th Ward City Council candidate Royston Allman. On the show, Green stated that a “scheduling conflict” had prevented him from participating in the PBA event.
Allman, who is also a member of the Ampere Civic Improvement Association that operates in the 5th Ward, thanked Green for appearing on his show Tuesday, May 23, saying, “Really great show, looking forward to this Saturday (May 27) with John Thompson Jr.”
Williams could not be reached for comment about the PBA forum by press time this week, but Thompson, who is scheduled to appear on Allman’s radio show on Saturday, May 27, did have something to say for the record.
“I was very disappointed that Mr. Green did not show up, as were the audience,” said Thompson on Tuesday, May 23. “He had just as much time to prepare for the debate as I did. Yes, I’ll be on Roy’s show on (May) 27.”
Thompson is running for mayor on his own slate, as is Williams. Green is making his first run for mayor at the top of the Green Team in 2017 ticket that includes incumbents 1st Ward Councilman Chris James, 2nd Ward Councilman Romal Bullock, 4th Ward Councilwoman Tyshammie Cooper, 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman and Leneus, who is running to fill Green’s soon-to-be-vacant seat.
The Green Team in 2017 has already been endorsed by East Orange Democratic Committee Chairman and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones. They are part of the Line A Democrats running for election or reelection in the primary, which includes: gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders President Britnee Timberlake, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver and Assemblyman Tom Giblin, among others.
Thompson said the Green Team in 2017 and the dominance of the Line A Democrats over the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic Party is the biggest obstacle to the implementation of real, substantive change in East Orange.
“East Orange needs a change of leadership,” said Thompson. Ted Green proved, by not showing up, how he’ll perform as a mayor. I don’t think the guy wants to debate and state his case for why he should be mayor.”