July 14, 2024
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Incumbents Schwartz, Hameeduddin and Pruitt Celebrate Teaneck’s Vote of Confidence

Teaneck—On Tuesday, the Teaneck township, a bastion of multi-cultural respect and understanding, decisively sent back its three incumbents to serve four more years on the town council. The council’s seats have often been held by Orthodox Jews and African Americans, and the town has been a trailblazer in Bergen County for hosting its first African-American female mayor, Lizette Parker, who sadly passed away in April, and its first Muslim mayor, Councilman Mohammed Hameeduddin.

Seven candidates ran for the three open seats, with the incumbents all winning back their seats in a virtual landslide. Hameeduddin was the highest vote getter with 3,834 votes. Councilman Mark Schwartz, who is also JLNJ’s co-publisher, was the next highest vote getter with 3,295 votes. Councilman Dr. Henry Pruitt received 3,219 votes. Challengers Chondra Young and Michael Pagan each received just under 2,500 votes, and Stephen Gruber and Jacob Herenstein received 1,985 and 525, respectively.

At a spontaneous victory party at Teaneck’s Moose Lodge, acting Mayor Elie Katz made a statement that was frequently interrupted with cheers and catcalls. “The numbers showed that we worked together, united, and we united the town. Trust is not something you give to someone, it’s something you have to earn. And I think this election is not the ending of our relationship together, but only the beginning,” he said.

This is a magnificent place to live,” said Pruitt, who noted that at above 80 years old, he could be spending his retirement years doing something easier. “My reason for being here is I’ve got you guys to work with, we have a chance as a majority to move this town forward, to help people with their taxes, and to make Teaneck the kind of town that it can be,” he added.

Hameeduddin, Schwartz and Pruitt rejoin acting Mayor Katz and Councilmen Jason Castle and Alan Sohn. According to New Jersey state code, the council has approximately two weeks from now to appoint someone to fill out Mayor Parker’s term. That group will serve beginning July 1, when a new mayor will be elected from within the council. A special election will be held in November for Mayor Parker’s full-term replacement.

The three winners have in common a view toward smart development, with a strong interest in making Teaneck attractive to developers as a means to reduce the high tax rate on individual homeowners. All three also have strong records of volunteerism in the township and all are active in a variety of community causes.

“This election was a mandate from the residents to us to keep doing what we have been doing, and based on strong voter turnout from the Orthodox Jewish community, it was a mandate from the Orthodox community to us specifically,” Schwartz told The Jewish Link.

At the Moose Lodge, Hameeduddin thanked the many volunteers who came out to support the campaign, especially as it became contentious over the past three weeks. “It was all of you guys who lifted us up, put us on your shoulders, and took us across the finish line,” he said.

Hameeduddin also congratulated a number of high school students who volunteered and cast their first-ever votes in this election. “I am very honored there are some kids here who worked on my campaign. You guys have got to understand: We all grew up or have ties here, what we want to do is lead this town for you guys, a town that you guys can be proud of and raise your children here.”

By Elizabeth Kratz

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