By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
PLEASANTVILLE – Judy Ward is in the driver’s seat to become the first female mayor in the history of Pleasantville as the city council president announced her candidacy for the post Wednesday (Jan. 29) in front of city hall.
Mayor Jesse Tweddle, 72, who has served as mayor since 2008, cleared the way for Ward on Jan. 25 when he announced he will not seek another term. In a Front Runner New Jersey story post Jan. 20, Tweedle hinted at retirement.
“I’ve taken a long time to get here,” Ward said in a news conference last week officially announcing her candidacy. “I waited. I was patient as far as just working in government and waiting until I thought the time was right and I think now the time is right. The time is now.”
Ward appears to have the support of most of her fellow council members who attended her press conference. Also attending were with Atlantic County Freeholder Ernest Coursey, Atlantic City councilman Kaleem Shabazz and influential pastors Willie Francois of Mount Zion Baptist Church and Bishop Fulton Hargrove of Grace Family Church.
Councilman William Christmas gave a full-throated endorsement of Ward at the press conference, saying her word is her bond and she will be committed to things she says she wants to do.
“I’ve talked about it over and over with my family and given it much thought,” Ward said. “I’m ready to elevate my community service to the next level. I’m running for mayor to be a new leader, a new vision and a new direction.
“My vision for Pleasantville is to make the streets more business friendly and try more aggressively to attract more businesses to our town to make it a true and safe Main Street as it was in the past, while at the same time enhance the businesses that are going through this period with us,” she continued.
On Thursday, Ward received one of her biggest endorsements yet when Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman endorsed her for mayor, according to Insider New Jersey.
“As city council president, she has worked tirelessly with Mayor Tweedle and the other members of council to grow the economy, create jobs, and make Pleasantville a safer, more affordable place to live and work,” Suleiman said “She’s uniquely qualified to lead the City of Pleasantville in the new decade and I look forward to campaigning with her in the coming months.”
Indeed, few would be able to match Ward’s knowledge of Pleasantville. She has served on city council since 2005, worked on every city council committee and became the first female ever to be chosen at council president, showing the respect she has earned from her colleagues.
“I enjoy working with my council members,” Ward said. “I want to continue our great working relationship while we move forward. I look forward to community meetings as well as community policing and other programs we already have in place to get even better.
“I can’t do everything that’s asked of me, but I will listen and seek ways to reasonably what I can. The one promise I can make is you will get honesty from me. Sometimes it may not be what you want to hear, but at least it will be honest,” she added.
Ward, who serves as youth chair at the nonprofit Coalition for a Safe Community, made a point to say that she wants to work with the Pleasantville school district.
“I would like to pursue other avenues with the school board to resolve our education issues because until we get that right, obviously we won’t be able to get the anyone here to get the ratables that we so desperately need,” she said.
She thanked her family for their support, touting her 41-year marriage, her two sons and sister, calling them the “best support system anyone can ever have.” She added that she’s been a Pleasantville taxpayer for 40 years, suggesting that she is locked into the needs of the community.
Party primaries for Pleasantville mayors race are June 2 with the general election on Nov. 3.
Photo still courtesy of Video posted Ron Bourne.
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