WESTFIELD, NJ — Two incumbent Democrats and two newcomers will seek a place on the ballot for the Westfield Town Council's November election, party leaders said on Tuesday.
The Westfield Democratic Committee announced that Erika Vargas-Garrison will seek the Democratic nomination for the Ward 2 council seat, and Dawn Nichol-Manning will seek the nomination for the Ward 3 seat. Election Day for the primary is June 6.
Incumbent Ward 1 Councilwoman Emily Root and Ward 4 Councilman Scott Katz will seek reelection, while Councilman Mark Parmelee decided he will not seek reelection, committee officials said in a news release.
“I am proud of everything that we have been able to accomplish during my term and, while my work is not done yet, I have confidence that Erika will be a strong candidate and an excellent councilwoman to represent Ward 2,” Parmelee said.
The Democrats’ announcement comes one day after the filing deadline for candidates submitting petitions to run in the primary. The Westfield Republican Committee had not formally announced candidates for the primary by Tuesday but said it plans on doing so in the coming days. Primaries for both parties are uncontested, according to the town clerk.
The Westfield Democratic Committee detailed its candidates as follows.
Root chairs the town council’s public safety committee and is a member of the finance committee, officials said.
“Since being elected to the Town Council, I have focused on reducing speeding in our neighborhoods and making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Root, who moved to Westfield in 2001. “I will continue to focus on these and other issues that are important to voters while working to keep our town affordable for families and seniors.”
Married to Bruno Tedeschi, Root has two stepchildren, Zoe and Dylan, both of whom attended Westfield schools from kindergarten through high school, officials said. Zoe is a junior at the University of Rhode Island and Dylan is a freshman at Michigan State University, the committee said.
“I am energized to run for Ward 2 Council and serve my community at such a pivotal time in Westfield’s history,” Vargas-Garrison said. “I look forward to meeting my Ward 2 neighbors, hearing their concerns and helping the town be the best it can be.”
Vargas-Garrison received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Robert Garrison, who is a former school board member, have a daughter, Maya, who attends Roosevelt Intermediate School, officials said.
Nichol-Manning, who has lived in Westfield since 2017, is an educator and minister, the committee said. She has been a public school science teacher for 27 years and serves as president of the East Orange Education Association, the committee said. Nichol-Manning is also the New Jersey Education Association Executive Committee liaison for Essex County with the New Jersey Education Association, officials said.
An active member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Westfield, Nichol-Manning advocated in assisting with the pop-up museum exhibit “African-American History in Westfield from 1720,” serving as a curator. This gave her an opportunity to connect with Westfield residents, encouraging school-age students and adults alike to appreciate the rich history the town holds, the committee said.
“Raising my hand to serve the community is an extension of so much of what I do,” Nichol-Manning said. “Through my community service, I have met many wonderful people in Westfield and look forward to meeting all of my Ward 3 neighbors.”
If elected, she would be the first African American woman to serve on the Westfield Town Council. Nichol-Manning and her husband are ordained ministers who have been serving the communities of Essex and Union counties for over 25 years and is the author of the book, “Today, Tomorrow, Triumphant: Tales of Two Winning Women.”
Nichol-Manning received her bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University, master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, doctorate of divinity/theology from Abundant Life Seminary and her education specialist degree from Grand Canyon University, officials said. She and her husband, Dennis, have two children, Alee, a senior at Westfield High School and Adonai, who will start kindergarten in the fall, the committee said.
Katz, who serves as chair of the council’s public works committee, and is a member of the finance committee, said he is excited about seeing the initiatives that he worked on during the last four years come to fruition in the next four, according to the release.
“We've planted the seeds on a number of key initiatives that will take root and begin returning results over the next four years," Katz said. “I would like the opportunity to continue working on these initiatives and new ones to ensure we keep moving Westfield in a positive direction.”
Katz also serves as liaison to the Human Relations Advisory Commission, the Tree Preservation Commission and the Recreation Commission. While he is no longer on the Bicycle Advisory Board, he is continuing to plan for the second Tour de Westfield, officials said.
A sales manager with Maximum Quality Foods, Katz earned his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in Economics. He and his wife, Caroline, have two children, Nate, who is a freshman at Virginia Tech, and Amelia, who is a junior at Westfield High School, officials said.
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