Sources say North Ward Councilman David Lyons is preparing for a challenge to two-term incumbent Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith, who’s up for reelection this year.
Contacted today, Lyons said only, “I’m considering it,” but wouldn’t deny it’s a done deal.
A showdown between Smith and Lyons would be a rematch that Smith and Team Irvington handily won in 2002.
Four years later, Lyons, a loyal ally of state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Newark), opted not to run against the mayor, but positioned himself as a renegade on the city council and increasingly Smith’s chief political antagonist.
In 2008, Newark detective Gene Etchison challenged Lyons in the North Ward with the mayor’s backing and fell just short of defeating his onetime mentor turned political foe.
Smith and Team Irvington interpreted Etchison’s near win as an indication that Lyons, once a bare knuckle community activist, can now barely hold his own ward and so shouldn’t pose much of a problem if he decides to go citywide against the well-connected Team Irvington-affiliated mayor. Etchison, it should be noted, has taken out petitions this year to run for an at-large council seat as well as mayor.
If he decides to run for the latter office, the move could be a calculation to disrupt Lyons on his North Ward home turf.
But sources close to Lyons also point out that the aftershock of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Operation Broken Boards – which implicated the mayor as a contact of convicted Newark pol Keith Reid – could still upset the terrain.
Moreover, Lyons allies are convinced their candidate can take advantage of an anti-incumbent environment and finally dislodge the establishment.
For the record, the feds never charged Smith.