West Orange mayor wins re-election over former Orange mayor

By Bill Wichert | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on November 04, 2014

West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi won a second term against three challengers, including former Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr.

 

WEST ORANGE — For Eldridge Hawkins Jr., today’s West Orange mayoral election did not turn out to be the homecoming he was looking for.

The former mayor of Orange, Hawkins fell short in his bid to become the next mayor of his hometown, losing to incumbent Robert Parisi among four candidates running in the township’s non-partisan election.

Parisi won a second term with 6,652 votes, easily beating the 1,728 votes cast for Hawkins. Two other mayoral candidates, Rodolfo Rodriguez and Joe Krakoviak, received 704 and 2,761 votes, respectively.

Parisi, who served on the township council for 12 years before being elected mayor in 2010, said tonight in a phone interview that “I feel blessed and honored to have another opportunity to serve the community.”

Asked why he prevailed over Hawkins’ challenge, Parisi said he has lived by the assumption that “if you govern well, the politics takes care of itself...and I think we govern well.”

“Every decision we made is with the best information available and with the best interests of the community in mind,” Parisi added.

Hawkins said he had no regrets about his campaign and said “at the end of the day, the residents chose the status quo.”

“Obviously, we wanted a victory, but…the residents spoke and they decided that they wanted things to stay the same, and that’s OK. That’s what the process is about,” Hawkins said. “I have no regrets . I’m proud of what we accomplished.”

Hawkins, who was a police officer in West Orange, has said he lived in Orange from 2005 to 2012, during which time he ran a successful law-and-order campaign and was elected mayor in May 2008.

After losing his reelection bid in May 2012, Hawkins moved back to West Orange in December 2012.

Hawkins has a history of legal wrangling with West Orange officials over his time as a township cop. In a lawsuit, Hawkins, who is black, claimed he was racially discriminated against when he was passed over for a promotion.

In June, a Superior Court judge dismissed the remaining claims of his lawsuit, saying he had not suffered any damages.

Although Hawkins didn’t succeed in his mayoral bid, he maintained that he was “really not sore about it at all,” saying he enjoyed the entire process.

“I would have only had regrets if I didn’t take the chance and run,” Hawkins said. “I don’t have any issue…with trying and not succeeding.”

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