There’s a certified push to recall mayor, so why are ads calling it a fraud?
For the last few weeks, a group of Orange residents has papered the city with fliers calling the campaign to recall Mayor Dwayne Warren a “scam” and warning of a “fraud alert.”
The fliers were paid for by the “Concern Citizens of Orange.”
The group has not yet filed a report with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, as required by committees formed to defend against recalls.
Last month, the city clerk certified a notice of intent to recall Warren. The recall committee must collect 25 percent of all voters registered for the last general election, or about 4,051 signatures, by mid-January to force the mayor to resign and trigger a special election.
“It’s quite telling for these so-called supporters of the mayor to go to this much extent,” said resident Tyrone Jon Tarver, who is leading the recall efforts. “It shows that they actually do take us seriously.”
Keith Royster, a spokesman for the mayor, said Warren had seen the fliers but was not aware of where or how the fliers were distributed.
“The mayor would rather focus on the challenges facing our city, and asks that all serious parties join him in that effort,” he said.
It’s not clear who has been distributing the fliers, but some senior citizens told NJ Advance Media the fliers were placed on their doors — inside federally-funded public housing.
“You’re not supposed to campaign inside those senior buildings,” Tarver said. “This was taped to every single door.”
Cristina Pinzon, a spokeswoman for the Orange Housing Authority, said the director of the agency was not aware of the fliers but that if any were distributed inside the building, they would be taken down because they were in violation of the law and agency policy.
NJ Advance Media obtained copies of three different fliers. One tells residents not to be fooled by the mayor’s political enemies “who are lying to take over our City” and looks like it is warning residents against a scam. A circular sign with the words “fraud alert” is stamped on the flier — even though the recall petition has been certified by the clerk.
A second flier touts Warren’s accomplishments for children saying he “has done more for our children than any other mayor in the history of Orange.” A third flier features a photo of five members of the recall committee alleging they don’t pay taxes.
Tarver said his father-in-law owns the home he lives in so his name does not show up on property tax rolls. He said he expected a campaign against the recall effort but added, “I didn’t think they’d go as far as making personal statements about me and other committee members.”
Linda Jones-Bell, former city councilwoman and tenant president of 340 Thomas Blvd., an Orange Housing Authority property, said whoever distributed the fliers, “had no right getting in the building.”
She said the senior community was a key target among politicians and it wasn’t the first time political fliers made their way inside.
“That’s where all the votes come from in Orange,” she said. “It’s so small and we have seven senior buildings, and the majority of the votes come from the senior building.”
Alma Richardson, a district leader who lives in a federally-funded senior home, said she found fliers on her door a few weeks ago.
“They got inside the building and put them on our door,” she said.
Warren was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. Organizers of the recall say Warren’s tenure in Orange has been marked by federal investigations, mismanagement of city coffers and a recent spike in crime.
If the required signatures are verified by the clerk, the mayor has five days to resign. He can also challenge the validity of the certification in court.