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South Orange Village Trustee Deborah Davis Ford, the clerk of the Essex County Board of Freeholders

South Orange: Essex freeholder clerk takes on village president

Nine candidates for village trustee, including ex-NFL player

By David Wildstein, March 19 2019 1:27 pm

The premier May race in Essex County is in South Orange, where village president Sheena Collum faces a challenge from village trustee Deborah Davis Ford.

Nine candidates have filed for three open village trustee seats, including a former NFL player and a onetime New York City council candidate.

Collum became the first woman village president when she was elected in 2015 with 70% of the vote against Emily Hynes.  Collum had been a village trustee for two years; Hynes was an attorney and political newcomer.

Alex Torpey declined to seek re-election that year after one term as village president

In her official biography, Collum calls herself “an unapologetic, pussyhat-wearing progressive.”  She is the executive director of the American Planning Association’s New Jersey chapter.

Davis Ford has close ties to the Essex County Democratic organization and has served as clerk of the Board of Freeholders since 2009.  She is giving up the council seat she’s held since 2007 – Davis Ford ran unopposed in the last two elections – to run for village president.

With incumbents Howard Levison and Mark Rosner not seeking re-election, South Orange will have three new village trustees in July.

Davis Ford is running with South Orange Rotary Club past president Stacey Trimble Boren, attorney Edward Grossi and Matthew Wonski, the owner of the famed Town Hall Delicatessen.

Collum is running alone.

“People, all people, should be able to run without barriers to be considered,” Collum said in a Facebook post.  “I’m running an independent candidacy for Village President and I’m looking forward to listening and learning from what others have to say and how they propose accomplishing their goals.”

Bobby Brown, who played football at Notre Dame and in six games for the Cleveland Browns in 2000, is running for village trustee.

He’s on a ticket with Toshie Davis, a former PTA president who was vice president of finance for City Harvest and is now the CFO for an education consulting firm, and West Montrose Neighborhood Association president Ed Moore.

Bob Zuckerman has stepped down as the executive director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance to run for village trustee.

This is his second run for office.

In 2009, he ran for New York city councilman in district that included the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.  Zuckerman finished fourth in a field of five candidates with just 7% of the vote.

Running on a slate with Zuckerman are Summer Jones, an assistant vice president of Montclair State University, and Donna Coallier, a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

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