Interview with John Sowell: Candidate for Mayor of Irvington

February 7, 2014

Essex County Politics


John Sowell, a candidate for Mayor of Irvington, met with Essex County Politics in Irvington. He discussed his candidacy, his platform, and his goals for Irvington.

A graduate of Newark Tech and a graduate of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local No. 25 four-year Apprenticeship Program, John has lived in Irvington since 1990 and served on the Irvington Municipal Council from 2000-2012, including 10 years as Council President. John earned the distinction of being the longest serving Council president in the history of Irvington.


Essex County:              Thanks for coming to meet me.

John Sowell:                Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, actually. I appreciate you taking time out to find my candidacy worthy enough of attention.

Essex County:              You’re welcome. I’d like to start with your prior service to Irvington. You served on the Irvington City Council for 12 years, from 2000 until 2012. And then you didn’t run for reelection. I’d like to begin by asking you what made you get out of politics, and then decide to get right back in?

John Sowell:                I made the decision to run for mayor in the summer of 2013 after lengthy discussions with many residents that I have known over the years. And looking at the conditions of the township, and based on my experience in government, and my experience in my private work life, I felt that I could definitely be the mayor and move the township forward.

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Irvington police director slams chief, council in report after 2013 crime spike

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on February 02, 2014

Irvington Police Director Joseph Santiago, seen here in a file photo, sent an 18-page report to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office that blames actions taken by the town's council and police chief for a major spike in crime last year. Homicides nearly doubled in Irvington last year.


IRVINGTON — The township's police director has sent an 18-page report to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office stating the town’s acting police chief and council were playing politics with public safety as gun violence soared last year, according to documents obtained by The Star-Ledger.

In the report, Police Director Joseph Santiago accuses acting Police Chief Dwayne Mitchell of dismantling a unit that patrolled the Newark-Irvington border, a hot spot for violent crime, and refusing to re-deploy detectives to work at times when homicides and shootings are most likely to occur.

Mitchell has filed complaints with the prosecutor as well, saying Santiago has repeatedly overstepped his powers as director, Council President D. Bilal Beasley said.
Calls to Mitchell were not returned.

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Irvington officials finalize deal to sell old hospital site, plans for redevelopment project unveiled

By Eunice Lee/The Star-Ledger
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on December 26, 2013

The 700-unit complex on Chancellor Avenue in Irvington will feature mixed income housing and an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space, officials said today. (Courtesy of Irvington Township)


IRVINGTON — Irvington officials finalized a deal with developers today that paves the way for construction of the largest residential project in town in more than a half decade.

The massive 700-residential unit complex, called the Hilltop Residential Development, will replace the former Irvington General Hospital site, which has been closed since roughly 2006. Hilltop LLC today presented Mayor Wayne Smith with a $1 million check to purchase the six-acre township-owned property on Chancellor Avenue.

The complex will be built over a 15-year multi-phase process and includes 15,000 square feet of commercial space, according to Matthew Gross, director of development at the New York-based Urban Builders Collaborative.

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In Irvington, IHOP Owner Brightens the Holidays for Needy Families


Tuesday, 24 December 2013




Tough times often come down hardest at the holidays, but in Irvington, needy families got an unusual break, a free dinner at the local IHOP on Springfield Avenue.

About 300 people attended the festive event, the brainchild of franchise owner Adenah Bayoh. Although she picked up the costs, the Liberian immigrant downplayed suggestions that this was charity.

“I don’t consider this a handout, it’s a thank you to the community for supporting us,” Bayoh said.

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Irvington police chief paid $115K while suspended, sparking state investigation

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on September 22, 2013

rvington Police Chief Michael Chase, seen here in a February 2013 file photo, has earned more than $100,000 this year despite not working a single day. Chase was suspended after a sprawling prosecutor's office investigation in late 2012, and repeated delays in his disciplinary hearing have left him suspended for more than nine months.


IRVINGTON — Irvington Police Chief Michael Chase hasn’t worked a single day in the past nine months, but a series of legal fits and starts has allowed the town’s suspended top cop to take home roughly $115,000 so far this year, leading to a state investigation, officials said.

Chase was suspended in December 2012 after an investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office accused him of quashing a probe into alleged misconduct by his police officer nephew and charged him with failing to properly supervise his department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Accused of more than 130 violations of Attorney General’s Office guidelines and police department rules, Chase was suspended — with pay — indefinitely.

Under state guidelines, a disciplinary hearing should have begun 30 to 45 days after the charges were filed.

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Irvington boy from Nigeria dies after distress in Conn. prep school pool

By The Associated Press 
on September 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM, updated September 14, 2013 at 12:57 PM

SUFFIELD, Conn.—A New Jersey boy has died two days after he was pulled from the swimming school of an independent secondary school in Connecticut.

Suffield Academy Headmaster Charlie Cahn said on Saturday that 14-year-old Iheanyichukwu Anyanwu was from Irvingston, N.J. The ninth grader died Friday at Baystate Medical Center in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield.

Cahn says the boy, of Nigerian descent, was in the pool very briefly but needed to be rescued. An athletic trainer who was also on the pool deck immediately performed CPR. Paramedics who responded to the scene delivered emergency care and took the boy to hospital.

Cahn says the community is in shock and devastated "at the loss of this exceptional young man." The school is trying to figure out what circumstances might have led to the tragedy.

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Irvington man's murder conviction is overturned

NEWARK — Darien Weston was found guilty in the 2007 execution-style killing of a 23-year-old man, but today an appeals court overturned the Irvington man’s conviction.

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