Sandra R. Jones, an Irvington councilwoman for nearly seventeen years, passed away on March 21. She was 76.
Jones began her political career in 1969 as a volunteer on Julian Robinson’s campaign for mayor of Jersey City against incumbent Thomas J. Whelan. She served as a PTA president in Jersey City – as P.S. 34 and Snyder High School — and as president of the Armstrong Avenue Block Association.
As a Hudson County Democratic committeewoman, she was a witness to save historic political wars in Jersey City. Jones was part of a bitter fight over the Jersey City Democratic municipal chairmanship in 1981 when Robinson, an ally of State Sen. Walter Sheil, defeated Mayor Thomas F.X. Smith’s candidate, Hudson County freeholder Frank Manzo, by seven votes, 160-153.
Jones moved to Irvington in 1993 and won several terms on the Irvington Board of Education. In Irvington, she became an ally of D. Bilal Beasley, then a councilman who would go on to serve as mayor and Essex County freeholder. Jones describes Beasley as her mentor, but some of her friends say it was the other way around.
When Beasley gave up his south Ward council seat after winning an at-large seat in the May 2002 municipal election, the council picked Jones to fill the vacancy. She won the seat four times, winning 66% of the vote in her 2016 re-election campaign against Al-Tariq Shabazz.
As a councilwoman, Jones fought the practice of pulling police officers off their patrols to serve code violation warrants. Instead she sponsored an ordinance to have constables perform that work and charged violators a $25 fee to pay for them.
Jones worked for the Essex County Division of Welfare as a family service worker and as a counselor with the Essex County ReEntry program.
“Essex County and the City of Irvington lost a strong advocate with the passing of Sandy Jones,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. “She worked tirelessly as a public servant to improve her community and we valued her partnership as a County employee and President of the Friends of Irvington Park. Sandy Jones will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Funeral plans have not been announced.