Three Democratic candidates are vying for two seats to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly: Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent; Garnet Hall; and Frank McGehee. Two candidates — Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti — are running in the Republican primary. The primary takes place on June 6, 2023. Village Green accepted endorsements for candidates through May 30, 2023. Read more election coverage here.
Dear Editor –
There are people that you meet that make an impact in your life – big or small. For me, that is Frank McGehee. In 2019, I had the opportunity to run for political office, and Frank, now affectionately known as “Mayor Frank” pulled me to the side and gave me tips that would help me during my next four years as Village Trustee for South Orange. This advice included ensuring that I create a balance between personal, political office, and my career. He encouraged me to think outside of the box on community issues. To be the voice for everyone and know that everything gets solved with a quick fix but some issues take time and sometimes connections.
While he served as Councilman and then Mayor for Maplewood and I served as Trustee in South Orange, we had many opportunities to collaborate and work together. Whether it was meeting with our youth regarding policing and racial inequalities or planning collaborative programming for both our towns for our first Juneteenth Celebration or Black History Month. In all of these interactions, what struck me is that he was not only the person to help set the task but was hands-on as well.
The year 2020 defined all of us but for Frank, being a Black Mayor in a town that was hugely impacted by COVID, this really showed us how committed he was (and is) to the constituents. He provided consistent updates (at some point daily), met with the Essex County leadership to ensure that his residents had what they needed, and ensured that education on COVID and the subsequent vaccine was widely available. Furthermore, as a Black Man holding the highest position in his community, he was able to be an example to young men of color that they can be in leadership positions. Having him as an example of leadership, tenacity, and encouragement is very important when you look at the low college graduation rates among black males.
When I found out that Frank was running for Assemblyman for District #28, I knew that I had to put my wholehearted support behind him. We need someone in office that has the strong experience necessary to fight for the people. They also need to understand all of the issues that our communities face and the only way to get that experience is by having proven leadership to move people through a crisis. It is important in our communities and especially in District #28 which covers South Orange, Maplewood, Newarks’ South and West Wards, Hillside, and Irvington to have someone who has that reflects the constituents and our youth.
When you go out to vote, remember to vote for experience and not just the line. Our votes matter – always! They should never be taken for granted or be made to feel like someone was already selected. You want people who will fight for you and your issues. For that reason alone, vote for Frank McGehee for Assembly!
Summer R. Jones