(ORANGE, NJ) - Donna K. Williams, a current Orange councilwoman and candidate for Mayor is fighting for more than just the community of Orange these days. Donna, is fighting Coronavirus while mourning the loss of her mother, Francis Williams. Ms. Williams transitioned from this side of life on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, due to preexisting health conditions not expected to be COVID related.

In an exclusive interview with Keith D. Wright, the brother of Donna K. Williams, he said, “the hardest thing was Donna not being able to be there to hold mother’s hand, or to embrace us right now.” During COVID, families are learning to mourn differently because of social distancing.

Keith went on to say, “Donna has been her mother’s primary caretaker for years. There was nothing she would not do for her mom and her mom for her. Knowing Donna has a major chance to be the first female Mayor of Orange made her proud.”

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We asked about Donna’s condition, and if she would prevail, Keith said, “Donna is strong and resilient…The first thing my sister said when I asked her what I could do for her was, ‘keep the campaign going.’ Pushing forward would be what Francis Williams would have wanted. It is what has to be done for Orange and the betterment of the community as a whole.”

Keith said, “while Donna is working on getting better, we are working on electing her Mayor and helping to put Francis Williams to rest. Donna has given so much to this community, and so did her mom."

We obtained an exclusive letter to voters penned before both, Donna’s sickness, and her mother passing. The letter was scheduled to be released early next week.

(Donna with mother, the late Francis Williams) 

We asked to tell us more about Donna’s mother, Francis Williams, and Keith said, “Ms. Francis was the mom on the block that all the kids knew and stood up for because, they knew she stood to fight for what was right on their behalf,” said Keith Wright. “It is one of those things that she did for children, adults, working people, and more…she did not pull back. She went full throttle, speaking on behalf of what was important to her community. She was a chief voice for people, and Donna operates in that same vein.”

When we asked about Donna’s hospital stay, Keith said, “Donna called the ambulance herself to take her to the hospital. Most of the first responders know her. It is not unusual for Donna to show up at a house fire at 2 or 4 am to support them and the residents. Now we are all praying for her and the first responders taking care of her. Our family is deeply grateful to the nurses and doctors who, although we cannot see, we can hear the care and concern in their voices over the phone. We have gratitude for all the folk working in hospitals to beat COVID and the first responders.”

(Donna supporting a first responder.)

Keith continued to say, “Donna’s big heart goes out to all victims of catastrophic events, COVID, and those on the front lines. Now that Donna experienced COVID first hand, knowing her, she is thinking of ways to help people rebuild mentally, physically, and economically before and after the pandemic passes.”

When asked to tell us more about his sister, Keith said, “civic engagement is what Donna is about. Every year she brings high school students to the Congressional Black Caucus. Donna introduces them to members of Congress and shows them all around Washington. On this trip, she also whets their appetite for continuing education by taking the teens to Howard University.  Donna does this not because it is part of her job, but because of her desire to expose Orange students to opportunities beyond their sight.”

(Photo on left or top: Donna and Antionett Hall taking students to see the movie "Harriett." Photo on right or bottom: the Unveiling of Monte Irvin Statue in Orange Park) 

When asked if he would like to add anything else, he said, “We hope people pray for Donna's healing, and remember all Donna and her mom have done for Orange on election day, we are also still taking campaign donations on TeamOrangeNJ.com to get her message out." 

Donna is running for Mayor on the Team Orange 2020 slate with team members running for At-Large City Council, Antoinett A. Hall, and Weldon Montague, III.

The election for Orange Mayor and Council is May 12, 2020, and will be vote-by-mail only due to COVID-19. Registered voters should be receiving their vote-by-mail ballots in the mail soon if they have not already. To vote, voters must fill out and sign the form, then mail it back postmarked on or before May 12, 2020.

(Keith in gray and Donna in red) 

In the past, TAP reported, after much deliberation about making a run for city council again or pursuing the mayoral seat, Donna launched her campaign on March 17 for Mayor. At the launch, People’s Organization for Progress’, Larry Hamm, was there to endorse her and the slate. Donna K. Williams has been long speculated to be a top contender in the crowded race against incumbent Mayor Dwayne Warren. Donna has been the number one vote-getter in two past Orange council elections. 

Here at TAP, we send condolences for all who have been lost during this time and hope for healing for everyone afflicted with COVID-19. 

TAPinto East Orange/Orange is an online newspaper serving East Orange and Orange as a part of a network of more than 80 franchised local news sites in NY, NJ, and FL. TAPinto recently won 3 of 5 excellence in local journalism awards by the Center for Cooperative Media in NJ. We are accredited by the NJ State Police, which is done through the New Jersey Press Association in which we are long-standing members. We take pride in providing the community with objective news, fact-finding reporting while featuring positive stories and awareness campaigns daily.

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