The Westfield Democratic Committee announced today that two new candidates are joining Councilwoman Emily Root and Councilman Scott Katz on the Regular Democratic Organization slate for the Westfield Town Council.
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.
Councilwoman Root, who was elected to a one-year term on the Town Council last year, will seek the nomination to run for a full-four year term in Ward 1. Councilman Katz will seek the nomination to run for a second term on the council representing Ward 4..
“I am proud to have these candidates running for office in Westfield,” said Democratic Chair Rupa Motwani. “They are leaders in their field and committed to making Westfield a better place to live for all residents.”
Ward 2 Councilman Mark Parmelee has decided not to seek re-election.
“It has been a privilege over the past four years to represent the residents of Ward 2 and to work alongside all of the incredibly talented town professionals who make Westfield so great,” Parmelee said. “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.”
Councilwoman Root, who serves as chair of the council's Public Safety Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee, said she is looking forward to continuing her work on quality of life issues.
"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 Councilwoman Root, who first 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."
As a successful small business owner for two decades, Root is a speech language pathologist who specializes in stuttering. She also gives back to her profession by working as an adjunct professor at Kean University.
Councilwoman Root earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California Santa Cruz and a master’s degree from New York University. She is married to Bruno Tedeschi and has two step children, Zoe and Dylan, both of whom attended Westfield schools from kindergarten through high school. Zoe is a junior at the University of Rhode Island and Dylan is a freshman at Michigan State University.
Vargas-Garrison, who has lived in Westfield for nearly two decades, is an accomplished manager with over 15 years experience working alongside the executive leadership team at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. She has a unique background working in the government sector serving as a project lead in numerous service area construction and renovation projects, contract negotiations and preparation of procurements for the provision of goods and services.
Vargas-Garrison previously served as the Legislative Liaison for the New Jersey Department of Labor.
Vargas-Garrison received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Robert Garrison, have a daughter, Maya, who attends Roosevelt Intermediate School.
“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.”
Nichol-Manning, who has lived in Westfield since 2017, is an educator and minister. She has been a public-school science teacher for 27 years . She also serves as president of the East Orange Education Association and is the New Jersey Education Association Executive Committee liaison for Essex County with the New Jersey Education Association.
Nichol-Manning is an entrepreneur who started two companies in the educational field. She serves as CEO of Educators at Large Educational Consulting Firm and president of Manning Enterprises.
As an active member of the Westfield MLK Association she has advocated in assisting with the pop-up museum exhibit “African-American History in Westfield from 1720”. Serving as curator gave her an opportunity to connect with Westfield residents, encouraging school age students and adults alike to appreciate the rich history the town holds. Nichol-Manning enjoys promoting unity and compassion among the residents of Westfield.
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. She and her husband, Dennis, have two children, Alee, a senior at Westfield High School and Adonai, who will start kindergarten in the fall.
She 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 “Today, Tomorrow, Triumphant: Tales of Two Winning Women.”
“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.”
Councilman Katz, who serves as chair of the 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.
"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."
Councilman 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.
Councilman Katz, who is a Sales Manager with Maximum Quality Foods, 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.