Yesterday IMU had a business lunch at the Tryp Hotel where Mr. Calvin West was well known. We made a toast to an amazing man.
Calvin West And His Career
For those that are not familiar with Calvin West let us fill you in. Mr. West was the first African American to win city-wide office. In 1966 he was elected to an at-large seat on the Newark City Council during Mayor Hugh Addonizio’s time.
1954 was when West got more involved in politics when he became the founder of the Central Ward Young Democrats. He went on to lead that group for seven years and spent four years as the groups treasurer.
West also worked for the New Jersey Afro-American newspapers and was a correspondent for the Newark Evening News.
West had a few gigs before running for city council when he was only 33. Before that he was the vice chairman of the Newark Municipal Utilities Authority, a member of the Newark Senior Citizens Commissions, and a member of Newarks Insurance Fund.
Later on in his career he served as chief of staff to Orange mayor Joel Shain.
West was also a former veteran having served in the U.S. Army.
Mr. West’s career as a councilman lasted four years. He ran in 1970 as well but lost out to Earl Harris a former Essex County Freeholder.
Later in his illustrious career West served as an aide and political advisor to Mayor Sharpe James. He also worked alongside Newark Governors James E. McGreevey, Richard Codey and Jon Corzine. During Phil Murphy’s campaign West was an early supporter for his Democratic gubernational nomination in 2017.
What Mr. West’s Peers Had To Say About Him
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo had this to say about the passing of Calvin West;
“We lost a great leader today with the passing of Calvin West. He mentored generations of young leaders, including myself, and was someone who I relied
anddepended on for advice, guidance, and support. Calvin was always looking out for Newwark, the community he loved, and his friends. I am deeply saddened and will miss Calvin’s friendship and insight.”
This morning Phil Murphy released a statement praising Mr. West.
“If anyone truly wanted to know Newark, they had to know Calvin West. For more than 60 years, he put his home city first and fought tirelessly for its people and neighborhoods. He garnered great respect across the state. I met Calvin long before I ran for governor, but when I did he gave me advice when few others cared and handed down some tough love when he thought it was needed. Something he continued to do right up until his passing. He was a friend, and I will miss him. I know countless Newarkers will miss their friend too.
Steve Sweeney the Senate President called West “A Trailblazer who dedicated his life to the causes that advanced the rights of others and improved the quality of life for the people of Newark and other urban communities in New Jersey.”
Senate President Pro-Tempore Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) had this to say;
“When the history of Newark, Essex County and the state of New Jersey is told, we will hear about a trailblazing man who paved the way for a generation of leaders. Calvin West was a Democratic stalwart, a mentor to so many and a partner to anyone who needed the advice and counsel of an elder. Calvin was a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is person, and above all else, a lover of life. We will celebrate you and miss you.”
Thank Mr. West for a life dedicated to making New Jersey a better place for everyone that has the pleasure to call ‘The Garden State’ home.
(Cover photo courtesy of The New Jersey Globe, source New Jersey Globe)