An Interview With Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren

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Why have you decided to run for reelection? did you decide to run?

We need to continue the progress we started in Orange. While my Administration has accomplished much since taking office in 2012, there still remains much to do for the citizens of Orange, who trust my experienced leadership to continue to move our City forward. We need to continue the progress in Orange for our families, children and seniors. 

 

What do you believe are your most significant accomplishments during your term?

Some of the achievements I'm most proud of during my tenure as Mayor is how our community has united to support the development that's going on in Orange: the pending Transit Village Train Station opening, the new baseball field, the Central Playground Spray and Play Park, the $6 million in infrastructure road repair with the assistance of the County, representing the largest reinvestment in Orange in over 30 years.

When I took office, the City had not made pension payments in 3 years, owing over $2 million in back payments while facing a $4-6 million dollar deficit. We are now ending 2015 with a surplus.

We have invested over $194 million in new development on Orange, more than any administration in the past 30 years. For example:

The Tony Galento Transit Village Plaza Improvements
Grant Amount $583,457.00

Roadway Improvements to Fuller Terrace
Grant Amount $319,330.00

Alden Street Irrigation System
Grant Amount $70,000.00
Installation of a new sprinkler system to irrigate the field

Colgate Park Improvements
Grant Amount $202,000.00

Central Playground Spray & Play
Grant Amount $416,915.00

Open Space 2014 Grant
Grant Amount $150,000.00
Installation of additional lighting at Central Playground Ball Field.

NJ Historic Preservation Trust
Grant Amount $281,000.00
Completion date: June, 2016

Roadway improvements to Fairview Ave, Jackson Street and Snyder Street

Central Basketball Courts Improvements
Grant Amount $102,000.00 

 

Why should people choose you over Councilman Coley? 

I believe that the citizens of Orange Township deserve tested, trusted leadership to continue the progress we have made as a City. It takes experience to lead an executive branch of municipal government. Orange is now a fiscally stronger, safer, and more engaged community, that is now headed in a direction that we can all be proud of. With new development projects, millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, and a new recreational and cultural center for families on the horizon, we are truly moving our township of Orange forward. Turning over the reins of government with a $60 million budget to someone like Coley, with less than two years on the job, or Janice Morrell who is a declared candidate for Mayor, would undo all the progress we have achieved for Orange families.  

You were endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee in 2012, but they backed Mr. Coley last month. What was your reaction? Why do you believe you lost its support?

When I launched my campaign for Mayor of Orange in 2012, Mayor Eldridge Hawkins was the local democratic committee chairman, and Councilman Coley was a member of that committee who supported the Hawkins, so I'm not surprised that the seven out of the twelve members that were at the meeting. I was told Coley’s daughter was there to vote for him. The so-called “endorsement” was a sham. I'm focused on the residents of Orange and the work my administration is doing to move Orange Forward. But what’s troubling is these committee members want someone to run our city with less than two years experience on the city council. Someone, I might add, who was fired for literally sleeping on the job. 

 

You've faced some criticism over the appointment of Willis Edwards as BA, and the resulting court case...how do you respond to those who question your judgment on that, or say you circumvented the law? 

Willis Edwards was more than qualified for the position of Business Administrator for the City of Orange Township but it was unfortunate that council politics got in the way of having someone of his caliber remain with my Administration. As a former Vice President of East Orange General Hospital, former New Jersey General Assembly member, former Senior Executive with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and holding a dual Masters Degree in Finance and Advance Management from one of our nation’s finest academic institutions —Columbia University—and a PhD candidate at Seton Hall University. The new Orange recreation center coming on line would not have happened, but for Mr. Edwards’ diligence.  Despite what Mr. Edwards and his family suffered due to the political pettiness and backbiting for past three years, he was instrumental in rightsizing City government and eliminating wasteful spending. Given that this is still an ongoing legal matter, that’s all I can say about this for now.

 

You endorsed Gov. Christie in 2013. Do you stand by that endorsement? 

The Governor Christie I see today isn’t the same man I saw in 2013. As a life long Democrat, the easy thing to do would have been to take the party line to avoid criticism. I have always stood and still stand with the Democratic party. Democrats Sheila Oliver, Nia Gill and other members of my party helped me launch the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training—MOET—where we provide jobs for our youth that pay ten percent more than the minimum wage. Under my Administration, MOET and similar programs reflect the Democratic ideals I hold dear. But, there comes a time when a leader must follow his conscience—regardless of the personal consequences. For too long in Orange, elected officials have prioritized their ambitions and abandoned their convictions. 

Orange needs a leader who will put his principles above self-serving politics. 

 

Crime has gone up and down during your term - there were 0 homicides in 2014, though they went back up this year. Why do you believe that is? Do you believe your administration has been effective in fighting crime?

In response to the influx of criminal elements from neighboring cities into our community, we responded by initiating more traffic stops, adding 8 more police officers to our ranks and acquiring 14 new police vehicles so that law enforcement can respond more quickly to residents’ calls for assistance. We increased traffic stops, police check points and camera surveillance throughout the city in our ongoing effort to stop crime. Our policing plan called S.T.R.I.K.E. (SECURE, TRACK, REMOVE INNER-ORANGE crime KEEPING EVERYONE safe) led to a reduction in overall crime, and we will build on its success.

 

What do you believe the main issues residents are concerned with this election?

When I talk with Orange residents, they talk about quality of life issues: clean, safe streets. So we acquired new high-tech street sweepers, and I created an Inspection Task Force to inspect problem properties to make Orange a cleaner, safer City.

Residents want a recreational, educational and cultural center that families, youth and seniors can enjoy. Our new Orange Recreation Center  -”The REC”- will serve seniors, students and families, thanks to a grant we acquired for $2.5 million.

 

Are you running with a ticket? If so, who are the other names? 

A slate has not been chosen yet.

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