Voters went to the polls in West Orange this week and made their first change of mayor in 12 years. Robert Parisi, the new mayor, had been a councilman. West Orange’s current mayor, John McKeon, had opted not to run for a fourth term. There were also elections in Newark, and Mayor Cory Booker easily won a second term. But Booker got 59% of the vote, down from 72% in the 2006 election that put him in office, and only seven of his nine council candidates won re-election.
In other news from the towns around Verona, the teenager who allegedly fired on a crowd of carnival-goers in Bloomfield last weekend died of the gunshot wound he got from a Bloomfield police officer. Rasheed Cherry, a resident of East Orange, was 17. He was alleged to have shot another East Orange resident, who was treated at Clara Maass Hospital and released. Baristanet says the whole mess is under investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Bloomfield P.D.
Montclair is trying to turn its empty storefronts into art. Baristanet reported that the Montclair Arts Council is recruiting artists to display their works in the windows of the vacant spaces. Vacancies in central Montclair are running at about 10% according to Montclair Business Improvement District officials. Look for the art to go up at the end of the month.
School issues were on the line in Fairfield and Millburn. In Fairfield, the township council cut $140,000 from the school budget that its voters had narrowly rejected on April 20. The council also recommended freezing teacher salaries. Millburn, meanwhile, unveiled a plan to shift students around to ease over-crowding at two of its schools. The first phase of the proposed redistricting would affect 92 students; 38 more students would be shifted in the second round.
And finally, some good news for the arts. Three years after chronic budget gaps nearly closed the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Millburn theater says it will break even this year. According to the Star Ledger, the magic formula was budget cuts, combined with a switch to more family-friendly entertainment.