Essex County College, hosted a town Hall forum for three candidates, vying for the open Council-at-Large, seat left vacant by Congressmen Donald Payne Jr. The forum was sponsored NAACP Newark Chapter, League of Women Voters/Newark, the Association of Black Women Lawyers of NJ, and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute in conjunction with Essex County College’s Liberal Arts Division of Social Services. NAACP, President Deborah Smith-Gregory, and the first Vice-President, John Smith, moderated the meeting. The medium was about 90 minutes long, the audience wrote their concern questions, and the moderator posted those questions to the candidates. The candidates are Lynda Lloyd, John Sharpe James, Esq., Yvonne Garrett-Moore, Esq., they all are running for the vacated seat. The candidates addressed several hot button issues including, Should charter schools be required to pay rent in co-located public schools? Ms. Garrett-Moore position was that both are public schools, and she believed in parental choice, and both schools should be held to the same standard.
While, Mr. James brought out the fact that both of his parents worked in the public school system, his position was that charter schools were an experiment, and that they have syphon needed resources away from the public district schools.
Ms. Lloyd repeated the question and affirmed that since the question was regarding co-location, that unlike the others, she would answer the question. “Any charter school located within a public school or anywhere else for that matter, would pay rent for space, and therefore charter should pay rent if they are co-located within a district school.”
Other questions asked were. How have you worked with teens? What services are available for veterans? How would you address the population of homeless veterans? They also discussed their views regarding privatization of city assets, such as water, and the port, tax abatements, the long-term tax breaks the city uses the lure developers to build in the city.
How would you approach violence as a public health issue? Ms. Garrett-Moore, said “violence is the result of losing relations, relations with connections to be apart of the community, the broken social contract. Government needs to speak to the broken relation that spurns violence”.
Ms. Lloyd responded, “It doesn’t just impact the person the violence committed against, it impacts the entire community. Violence create a community disconnected, where people are afraid to work collectively or for the common good. It’s a public health issue because it impact us all.”
Mr. James response was the following “Violence is a disease, when young men are fighting and killing one another for the most trivial of things. When I was young the neighbor would reprimand you, and your parent would do the same when they got home. We must begin to work together again. If violence is declared a disease maybe we can received federal dollars to rid ourselves of it.”
The forum was civil and engaging, near the end event, Mr. James stated how proud he was to be on the stage, with two beautiful Black educated women, and he would not enter into a negative campaign.
The candidates will appear again on Wednesday, October 23rd, 6:00p.m. -8:00p.m, sponsored at, UVSO Heart of Vailsburg Block Club Coalition, Teen Center, located 40 Richelieu Terrace. The Essex County forum will be broadcast next week on channels 77 (cablevision), channel 37 (Fios), please check with your local carrier for specific time and date.