(EAST ORANGE/ORANGE, NJ) - The HUBB's Virtual Mayoral Candidate Forum, where only four of the six candidates attended, occurred with technical difficulties. Because of COVID, the forum was hosted via a zoom/Facebook live stream. Many eager viewers were not able to immediately see the discussion linked here.

In a statement posted by HUUB on Facebook, they said, "Thank you all constituents for watching this evening's forum and for all the Mayoral Candidates for participating. We'll be sharing the video recording ASAP and sending audience questions to the candidates for their responses. We appreciate your understanding and patience with our technical difficulties!" 

TAPinto East Orange/Orange salutes the HUUB for keeping the tradition of hosting a Mayoral Debate in Orange, in spite of COVID-19. 

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Present at the forum in alphabetical order were:

  • Christopher G. Jackson
  • Donna K. Williams
  • Dwayne D. Warren
  • Shawn D. Hunter

Noticeably missing from the forum was:

  • Michael Jean Baptiste
  • Rayfield R. Morton

Morton gave an account of his whereabouts by posting in the comments of the feed. He reported experiencing technical difficulties of his own.

However, the absence of Michael Jean Baptiste resulted in later allegations about why he was missing.

A political insider who wishes to remain anonymous alleged, "it is important to know what drove each candidate to run. Is it because they have a true vision for Orange, is it revenge, or another candidate asked them to? Some people were asked to run as a strategy to split the vote, so the incumbent gets in. It's not a coincidence Baptiste was a no show at the debate or that he was the one candidate whose face was missing on that negative mailer sent by Mayor Warren. Understand, the Haitian vote is a very important one, Williams seems to have a lot of support from the Caribbean community, breaking up that base could only work in Warren's favor."

TAPinto East Orange/Orange reached out for to Mr. Baptiste for comment about missing the debate and regarding the allegations of being planted in the race to divide votes. Mr. Baptiste did not respond to our request for comment.

Incumbent Mayor Dwayne Warren responded by saying, "It is a lie. I do not respond to rumors and lies as they serve to cheapen political discourse and should be beneath any serious candidate for public office." 

The topic of vote splitting in the East Orange/Orange community is an interesting one:

In 2016, the last race for Mayor in Orange show the top two contenders to be incumbent Mayor Dwayne Warren and Councilman Kerry Coley, but Janice Morrall, ran too. Assuming for political theater the 677 votes Morrell pulled symbolize people who were voting outside the incumbent; if those votes went to Coley, he still would have lost, but by 5 votes. 

 

2016 Orange Mayor's Race  

Vote Count

Percent

NP - Dwayne D. WARREN

1,960

50.04%

NP - Janice L. MORRELL

677

17.28%

NP - Kerry J. COLEY

1,279

32.65%

Write-In

1

0.03%

Total

3,917

100.00%

 

 

Perhaps most liken to this year's race the one from 2012. That year Warren unseated incumbent Eldridge Hawkins by only 230 votes. The numbers suggest the race was between top contenders Hawkins and Warren. Arguably, had Morrell or Marable, Jr. not have run, the outcome of the race could have been different. Would Warren have won by more, or would the incumbent have picked up those votes and kept his seat? One will never know because the vote was splintered between four candidates vying for the same position. This year, there are six candidates running which makes things more interesting. 

 2012 Orange Mayor's Race

Vote Count

Percent

- Janice L. MORRELL

705

17.05%

- Eldridge HAWKINS, Jr.

1,376

33.28%

- Edward B. MARABLE, Jr.

446

10.79%

- Dwayne D. WARREN

1,606

38.85%

Write-In

1

0.02%

Total

4,134

100.00%

In 2014, the East Orange Mayoral race, incumbent Mayor Bob Bowser, was unseated after losing political party support. Former East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor (who gained party support) was elected to replace Bowser, arguably because there were so many people in the race. That election, if just one candidate, either Bowser, Clark, or Kevin Taylor, not have run, it is likely Lester Taylor would have lost, simply because that particular year more people voted against the party establishment than they did with it.

2013 East Orange Mayor’s Race 

Vote Count

Percent

Lester E. TAYLOR

3,397

33.48%

Robert L. BOWSER

2,140

21.09%

Carol Y. CLARK

2,206

21.74%

Tonya Parker LEMON

26

0.26%

Kevin TAYLOR

2,374

23.40%

Write-In

2

0.02%

Total

10,145

100.00%

 

Getting back to the topic of the forum. There were three questions posed to the candidates who had three minutes to answer each:

  1. To create a healthy environment for children requires good food, stable shelter, employment and safe streets.  What is your platform for creating such a healthy environment?
  2. How do you see Orange emerging from this period of managed retreat and economic shutdown?
  3. How would your administration encourage community-centered development that involves and includes the perspectives of Orange residents across its various demographics to create a more just and equitable city for all?

Regarding the public being able to ask questions, the HUUB stated, "Due to the format limitations, we are unable to ask any questions from the audience. We will be monitoring the comments and will organize a list of questions to share with all the candidates after the forum. If you choose to respond, we will be happy to share your responses on our Facebook and event pages."

Some candidates took to their social media pages to provide a live opportunity for the public to ask them the questions directly after the forum.

Here are the links to each candidate's Facebook page and websites that could be found.*

This year's Orange election is a vote by mail only. By now, you should have received your vote by mail ballot in the mail. You must read the instructions carefully, fill it out, sign, and mail back on or before May 12, 2020, if you want your vote to be counted.

* If there is a Facebook page or a website that does exist, and we missed it even after viewing all campaign material and using search engines to locate, we invite candidates to email yournews@tapinto.net so we can update this article with the information. 

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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