Kevin Taylor Meet & Greet

by Jim Gerrish

The Meet and Greet event took place at Kevin's home at 413, North Arlington Avenue, East Orange, NJ. I arrived at 5:15 and by the time the meeting started at 6:00 PM, the good sized living room was filled and more continued to arrive as the evening went on.

L-R: Muzammid Mohamed-Stevens (2nd Ward Candidate), Kevin Taylor (Mayoral Candidate), Zaimah Abdullah (4th Ward Candidate),
Vernon Pullins (State Senator Candidate), Bobby McGrady (1st Ward Candidate)

I was expecting the meeting to be all about Kevin and his plans for the city when he becomes Mayor of East Orange, but he is beginning to put together a team of like-minded counsel people who are also running for election in June, and I also met a state senatorial candidate whom I knew as an elementary student when I taught at Washington Elementary School in East Orange. More about that later.

There were some preliminary speeches of introduction of Kevin, but I was in attendance to report on Kevin so I will confine my remarks to his own words. I was hoping to find someone that I could trust with my vote. I had been registered as a Republican a week ago, but, realizing that I would not be able to vote for any East Orange mayoral candidate in the June 4th election of 2013, I had gone down to city hall and re-registered as a Democrat. I am happy to report that I believe Kevin is someone that I can vote for either as a Republican or a Democrat.

I found out that he had made himself an entrepreneur while he was still in high school, and had created a business that immediately began employing his high school friends as workers around the city of East Orange. Later, in 1984, he formed a construction company called Ketco, and won a city contract to have his company construct part of our current Brick Church Mall. Today, he is currently President of Blackstone Acquisition LLC, a property acquisition firm. Kevin currently manages over 150 properties throughout the United States within major urban and suburban real estate markets. He is also Chief Executive Officer of PI Resources LLC, a marketing and advertising firm.

I had noted the absence of the usual campaign donation pails and in fact, no one asked me for a campaign donation the entire evening. As Kevin explained, he was not in the mayoral campaign for money. He noted that when he became mayor, he would have to give up his full-time jobs mentioned above. He also pointed out that because of his businesses, he could not be "bought" by the democratic "machine" of Essex County. You'll note that on his campaign literature (see below), Kevin never once asks you for money.

Kevin's plans for generating revenue and reducing property taxes are all based on his experience as an entrepreneur and successful businessman. The most important point he made during his speech was that East Orange was one of the wealthiest communities in the county, yet the current administration, after four terms in office, was not using that wealth to benefit the city, but was only squandering it, and depending on property taxes, parking tickets, and state and federal aid to run the city. Kevin noted the many run-down portions of the city, the vacant buildings with broken windows, the litter-filled vacant lots, the vacant and unused school buildings (Columbian, Washington, Elmwood and VLD jumped to my mind). After pointing out all of this squalor, that I well knew from traveling around the city almost every day, I wondered how Kevin could call East Orange a wealthy city.

Kevin pointed out that East Orange owns land in Livingston and Short Hills, that had been purchased back in 1905 under the urging of the first two city mayors, Mayors Bruen and Cardwell. Kevin showed us how the "water wealth" in our 18 artesian wells could be used to sell water service to more municipalities than are currently being served by it, generating revenue to bring down property taxes. There is also land which can be developed without damage to the water table, adding further revenue without resorting to taxes. Because previous mayors have been politicians with little to no business experience in developing land and property, they had all overlooked or under-utilized this obvious water wealth and land wealth as revenue for the city. As a result of listening to Kevin's ideas, I was encouraged to go up to the East Orange Water Works and see for myself our wealth of water resources.

Kevin also talked about the past and current use of the city's police department to issue parking tickets as a source of city income, resulting in what is seen by many to be an "oppressive" police presence around the city. This is not a fault of the police, but of the city's parking policies which severely restricts parking spaces, resulting in more parking tickets, etc. Kevin plans a review of the city's vacant lots to increase parking availability, and by also increasing on-street parking permits and using alternate side of the street parking regulations to keep narrow neighborhood streets open for nighttime street cleaning. Kevin sees these as ways to resolve the city's parking problems.

Kevin also spoke about a plan to develop our sanitation department by leasing garbage trucks with which our city could then provide our own sanitation needs and extend those services to adjoining cities which would both create new jobs and add to our revenues without costing our taxpayers anything.

I think you can see that I am now convinced that Kevin is someone I can vote for both as a former Republican, a current Democrat, and forever a member of the East Orange Tea Party. Although as Tea Party member I do not endorse any political party or candidate, as a private citizen of East Orange, I urge you to do your own homework, use your computer to check Kevin's background and references for yourselves, and draw your own conclusions about which candidate deserves your most cherished civic possession, your vote.

After Kevin spoke, he introduced State Senatorial candidate Vernon Pullins. As mentioned above, Vernon had been a student at Washington Elementary School in East Orange, and remembered me as "the teacher next door" because of my group of "Washington Wizards" that eventually became The Wiz Kids, Inc. He is just in the beginning stages of his campaign and was collecting signatures for the petition to place his name on the ballot for the June 4th primary election. He didn't speak much about his plans or make any campaign promises, but seemed in agreement with Kevin's plans and goals for East Orange. I don't know if he has a chance to win against the "democratic machine" in New Jersey, but it was nice to know that sixth grade student I knew from so long ago was today running for state senator. I will keep an eye on him from now on and report on his progress in the campaign. Vernon also has his own Facebook page .

The final speakers for the evening were all candidates for city council from wards other than my own, so I would not be able to vote for them in the third ward anyway. But they all support Kevin and his plans and goals, so if you live in those wards of East Orange, check them out, do your homework, and decide which of them is deserving of your vote. They were (in the order in which they spoke) Robert (Bobby) McGrady (1st Ward Candidate), Zaimah Abdullah (4th Ward Candidate), and finally Muzammil Mohamed-Stevens (2nd Ward Candidate). To learn more about them, Bobby McGrady has a Facebook Page, and Zaimah has both a Facebook Page and a Web Page planned (not yet functional). Muzammil Mohamed-Stevens also has a Facebook Page.

Campaign Information Collected

Click to see full sized versions

Kevin has his own Facebook page where you can ask him questions and get rapid responses.
Kevin also has a very active Campaign Web Site.

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