IRVINGTON, NJ — Seasons change and clothing comes in and out of fashion, but David Lyons has consistently found his place on the Irvington Municipal Council; he was elected a sixth time as councilman on Tuesday, May 10, winning the North Ward with 435 votes to challenger Cathy Southerland’s 150 votes.
However, there was one difference for the 20-year veteran office holder; this year marked his first campaign as a member of Mayor Tony Vauss’ Team Irvington Strong social and political organization.
This is a far cry from where Lyons was when he began his political career on the same ticket as disgraced former Mayor Sara Bost, who was caught taking political kickback money and resigned from office. She eventually went to jail for her crime, and former Mayor Wayne Smith was chosen to fill out the remainder of her term in office.
Bost’s downfall proved not to hurt Lyons’ political career at all, but allowed him to become a stronger candidate as he faced stiff competition for re-election four times against the Team Irvington, which was founded by former Municipal Council President and Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley and former Councilwoman and current Freeholder Lebby Jones.
Although Team Irvington has dominated the municipal political scene for most of the more than 20 years Lyons has been in office, it was never able to supplant him on council. By 2014, Beasley had stepped away from politics to serve as a mentor to Vauss, who had just been elected mayor, and Jones briefly retired from politics altogether, before coming back to serve as a freeholder. In a complete turnaround, the new Team Irvington Strong organization embraced Lyons, who ran on their ticket in the most recent election.
“I’m happy that the people of the North Ward voted to re-elect me for a sixth time,” said Lyons on Tuesday, May 10. “I think that they spoke loudly and clearly that they appreciate the job that I’m doing and I feel that they want me to continue to support and work with the mayor because they like the direction that he and the council are moving the township. I’m also glad my colleagues all won because, together, we have shown that we are all on the same page and the result is that Irvington is progressing like never before.”
Lyons said he believes “that the community is unified in wanting this team to continue to lead and support what the mayor is doing to make Irvington better.” The election continued the winning streak of Team Irvington Strong that began with Vauss’ 2014 mayoral win atop a ticket that included candidates Council President Charnette Frederic, Councilwoman October Hudley and Councilwoman Renee Burgess.
That streak was in full swing this year during the Board of Education election on Tuesday, April 19, wherein the three incumbent candidates seeking re-election were backed by Vauss and Team Irvington Strong. Richard Williams, Joe Sylvain and Luis Antilus ran for re-election unopposed.
Although Vauss could not be reached for comment about the outcome of the Municipal Council election by press time this week, the mayor’s words in advance of the Board of Education election were prescient.
“Hopefully, I think it means that people appreciate the work that we’re doing and that they see that they really have people out here trying to make Irvington better,” said Vauss on Saturday, March 5. “I think the council members that are up for re-election have done such a tremendous job and I think you judge a person’s character by the work that he or she does and they’ve done some tremendous work over the past two years and we’re just looking forward to the challenge.”
According to the Essex County Clerk’s Office and Board of Elections, in addition to Lyons’ victory, incumbent Councilwoman Sandy Jones defeated challenger Al-Tariq Shabazz, 621 to 315, and incumbent Councilman Vern Cox defeated challenger and Irvington NAACP President Merrick Harris, 404 to 93. Incumbent East Ward Councilman Paul Inman ran unopposed and managed to get 293 votes.
There were also four write-in votes in the East Ward.
“I’m happy to win a second term as the East Ward Councilman,” said Inman on Tuesday, May 10. “I am only the second person to win a second term representing the East Ward in recent years. I’m ready to continue the work I started to improve the quality of life for my constituents in the East Ward as well as the entire township of Irvington.”
“I’m glad we were victorious: Sandy won 2 to 1; Dave won 3 to 1; Vern won 4 to 1; and Paul ran unopposed,” said Vauss on Tuesday, May 17. “It goes to show the true sentiments of the people in the township and that they like what we’re doing and they like the progress.
“We’ve got things lined up this year to get the streets repaved; we’ve torn down eight abandoned houses in the last two months, especially that big burned out eyesore on the corner of Stuyvesant and Lyons that had been vacant for years and caught on fire twice.
“I’m really proud of what we’re doing and the council members that are in support of the vision and the direction that the town is going in. That’s why I supported all the incumbents.”