January 9, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Statement by Town Resident Richard Groves:
“Many town residents and I have grown increasingly tired of the municipal failures of the current West Orange municipal leadership, its lack of inclusion within its administration and find certain actions questionable. Some of us find that our property taxes are now higher than our mortgages at a time when armed robberies have increased and projects such as the “Edison Battery Factory Redevelopment” on Main Street stagnate for years. The laundry list continues to grow. Suffice it to say that many of us feel that the time for change is now.
Over the past several months, some residents and I have searched for someone new to lead this township as mayor. We found one person with the experience, track record and knowledge of the West Orange experience necessary to produce the changes we require and deserve. This individual is Former Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, who has but for a few years essentially been a lifelong resident of West Orange.
While in office, Eldridge Hawkins stood up for tax payers and made the tough decisions to work across the political aisle and pushed for changes in state policies as Chairman of the NJ State League of Municipalities Management Reform Committee. His efforts along with that of many others made great strides in controlling costs and tax increases. In addition to the savings from these policy changes and cost cutting measures, Mayor Hawkins was successful in acquiring over $100,000,000 in outside funding or revenue sources to further the city’s redevelopment, protection of tax payers and reduction of crime by over 22%.
As an alternative to the current West Orange Administration, Eldridge Hawkins is the right candidate and the only one with the practical experience as a Mayor. He is a Retired West Orange Police Officer and has an MBA from Seton Hall University. Based in part on the aforementioned, several residents and I reached out to Mayor Hawkins and asked him to consider running. His response was simple "If you can show me the support, I’ll consider it."
Debrah Mapson, Joe Sorbino and I hosted a meet and greet for Eldridge recently at China Gourmet on Eagle Rock Ave., which was well attended. People came with questions and left satisfied with his answers. He also dispelled any notion that he actually received over $100,000 in salary from different positions while in Orange. I have personally viewed his W-2's which were posted on facebook showing each year (2008- 2012) he made less than $35,000 from the City of Orange.
In an effort to move forward in this process, Eldridge has approved the formation of an exploratory committee for his candidacy as Mayor of West Orange. Many people have signed up to participate and we encourage more individuals to join us for positive change, as together we can make a difference. I am calling on all West Orange citizens to go to eldridgehawkins.com to express your support.”
Statement by Eldridge Hawkins, Jr.:
“I am honored and humbled that West Orange residents would consider having me as their Mayor. To serve as an elected official in the town in which I was raised would be a great honor. I remember playing mountain top soccer and tee-ball when I was younger, attending St Joseph’s School, Redwood School and eventually Seton Hall Prep all here in West Orange. This town has a great history that I would love the opportunity to carry forward and take to new heights. This however, can't be done alone. It will take all of us through coalitions and partnerships to insure West Orange’s future as a wonderful place in which to live, work and raise a family. So, as we evaluate this opportunity, I do so with an open mind to doing things differently and embracing those who once stood as my political opponents. Regardless of what the future holds I will remain grateful to those residents who would seek to have me be a partner in the Progress of West Orange.”