Evans Says Goodbye
The councilwoman spent much of her last two years in office at odds with her colleagues, but Wednesday's meeting was a time for both sides to accentuate the positives.
Councilwoman Crystal Evans said goodbye during Council's year-end meeting Wednesday night.
While the meeting may have served as her swan song as a local elected official, the one-term councilwoman vowed to remain active in the community.
"Oh, I'll be back. I'll be around. I'm not going anywhere," she said following the meeting.
Evans indicated she is committed to pushing for a community center in the township's southern end, a traffic signal at Red Bud Drive and Cross Keys Road, and full-day kindergarten for the township's public schools.
"Even though that's a school board thing, it's something we need to look into. It's time," she said. "Gloucester Township needs full-time kindergarten."
Several residents praised Evans during the meeting for being an independent voice on Council.
"You have served the community very well, and you are a voice for the voiceless," Erial resident Ronald Padgett said. "I am a lifelong Democrat, but you have taught me ... it's not about party, it's about people."
"Just like when you go to a ballgame or you go to the store, you remember a person's face. You don't ask their religion, you don't ask their politics and you certainly don't ask how they're registered," Ray Polidoro, chairman of the Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee, said. "And I believe that's how you treated people in this township. And I think you spoke on their behalf."
Elected in November 2007 as a Democrat, Evans became the first black woman to serve on Gloucester Township Council when she took office in January 2008.
Phillip Warner, southern regional coordinator for the New Jersey NAACP, lauded Evans for her service during Wednesday's meeting.
"Whatever the future holds, I know she will be successful," he said. "I want to congratulate her. She's a hard worker with a big heart."
Evans drew the ire of her Democratic colleagues in the township when she supported Republican Gov. Chris Christie in his 2009 run for the top elected office in New Jersey.
Then, this fall, she openly supported the four GOP candidates in the Council race.
On Wednesday, though, Evans drew praise from Mayer and Democratic councilmembers for her service to Gloucester Township.
"Let me begin by congratulating Councilman (Ken) Garbowski and Councilwoman Evans for your years of service to the residents of Gloucester Township," Mayer said. "I certainly wish you the best and thank you for that service."
Garbowski, who, like Evans, did not seek re-election in November and served only one term on Council, did not attend Wednesday's meeting.
"I want to thank you for the service you provide to our township, and I wish you the best tonight and going forward," Council Vice President Orlando Mercado told Evans.
In addition to her four years on the Township Council, Evans served on the Township Human Relations Commission and worked in the 4th Legislative District's constituent services office when Mayer was a state assemblyman.