Essex County insiders describe a building battle in the May 13th contest between incumbent Mayor Wayne Smith and challenger Tony Vauss, but one key player won’t publicly pick a side owing to a longstanding alliance with a local renegade.
Vauss is the president of the Irvington School Board and has the backing of veteran Freeholder L. Bilal Beasely and other key county level players.
State Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-28) supports a running mate of Smith, CWA Local leader Lionel Leach, Rice’s longtime political confidant.
Another staunch Rice ally, Freeholder Rufus Johnson, also stands with Smith.
But for his part, Rice is staying away from issuing an endorsement in the mayor’s contest owing to his years-long alliance with Councilman David Lyons, a frequent Smith critic.