Joash (pronounced “Josh”) Ward, the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Mayor Rob Rolinson, mobilized a significant number of his base voters to turn out in the City of Poughkeepsie Tuesday, losing by only 312 votes to the hugely popular Rolinson in an election year that saw a historically record low voter turnout.
He conceded and on Tuesday posted on his campaign Facebook Page, “I’d like to thank everyone for their incredible support. Almost 1000 new voters partook in this election. At this time I will not be leading the City of Poughkeepsie as it’s next Mayor, but I continue to pray for its prosperity. #WeAreTheOriginOfChange”
Less than 48 hours later Ward wrote a scathing and largely unsubstantiated reason for his loss, attacking virtually every city institution, and referring to, without saying either of their names City Council Member Natasha Cherry and Republican Sakima McClinton who ran for Councilor at Large for not aligning with him. Ward had already proved to be vindictive, as Cherry was “punished” by the Dems for backing Rolinson.
Cherry referenced this in a Facebook post, writing: “So we all have been getting a lot of mailers encouraging us to vote for one person or another. Before I continue I would like to thank all my strong supporters who continue to vote for Cherry (even though I dont have an opponent still vote for me)! I entered this political arena to have an avenue to do more for people than I was already doing, especially for the youth. I don’t even like politics, it’s very ugly and the people who try to glitter the most, usually arent gold! I encourage you all to vote for people who have already done great things for the community not for people who are selling you promises. Look at people’s motivations and why they are running? What were they doing before? Don’t vote for someone just because of the color of their skin or because of their political party or if they are a female vote for people who have already shown some investment into making things better.#letsfixit”
Today Ward posted the following on Facebook:
For those of you who voted for the first time in your lives, having seen the world, you believed that a 24 year old from Public Housing with a Poughkeepsie High School Education was the answer: Today, the headlines are about you.
Nearly 1,000 of you came out to bring us closer to victory in Poughkeepsie than FDR when he ran for President.
And my team: the greatest band of political rebels in history: I love you! You did what no one else was willing to do.
We took on the Republicans, the Democrats, the community organisers, the liars, the sell-outs, the White Suprematist (and their Black enablers)—like Atlas, we put this city on our backs!
The credit belongs to you.
You are moms, siblings, friends—none of you did this before. You are the Face of Courage. You are my Heroes.
To my family—the family I started with and the new members, baptised by fire—I love you. We have different last names, but the same heart. We pulled this City, and the world as it watched, closer to Love, closer to Truth. Closer to light.
Now, some of you are angry, so let me say what’s on your minds:
•Fuck the Republicans
•Fuck the Mayor
•Fuck the Police
•Fuck Every Member of the School Board
•Fuck the Gentrifier
•Fuck the Jail
•Fuck the Racist, the White Supremacist,
•Fuck the Bigot
•Fuck the narrow Minded Bonehead
•Fuck the Traitor
•Fuck the Uncle Tom
Sometimes it just has to be said right?
Well that’s exactly what 47% of this city said when we voted for change. Now that we said it, we don’t have to repeat ourselves…
The Dr. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou quoted the words of Terrance when she said, “I am human, nothing human can be alien to me.”
What I mean is the hatred and vitriol we’ve seen them turn against us, lives all the same in our own hearts. Should we deny it’s existence, we will not be able to Oppose them without Hatred.
I never deny that the worst is in me too…but I lean towards courage to say what is difficult and vulnerable instead. Words are as healing and dignifying as they are divisive.
The greatest pain of this election was to learn that on the heels of every single decision made in public office—someone will make Millions or Billions of Dollars. Not my loss, but the loss of my people.
I’m not upset with those of you in my community who sold me out. I’m saddened that your minds are so narrow as to have sold me out for nothing in return. Not the protection of your own families. Not even your own advancement. You sold me and your community down the river for a pat on the back from your oppressor while they make our like a bandit with your children’s future…
But I forgive you. I have forgiven you from the moment you let hatred color your motivation. From when you turned on us for telling the truth: I forgive you. All of you.
My name is Joash Ward, I was your Democratic Candidate for Mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie and it has been the honor of my lifetime to represent half, two thirds or eighty percent of this city (whatever way you want to count it) over the past year.
I am but a Messangers of what’s coming, of the Young, the Colored, the Queer, the Economic Underclass, the Formerly Voiceless, the Lost and Forgotten.
We are the People of the United States and we have formed to create a More Perfect Union. We are ready. We are willing…we are able. And We Vote.
You won’t see my face at the forefront next time—but you will hear my voice in every child in this city who demands a better education—a safer environment, a more equitable city. In the mother who knows fighting her way into the middle class and the Young Black Man who knows his rights.
You will not know the day or the hour, only that a new day has come.
I won’t ever ask my people to Unite with those who would see us murdered in cold blood. I won’t ask my people to endure that injury any longer.
Instead, I will ask you what we are going to do about it. How you are going to break the chains of oppression that bind you.
400 years ago the first slaves arrived on our shores, and 400 years later there are 11 million immigrants living and working among us, without the protection of the law—not seen as people, let alone Citizens. We have come too far to have only come in a circle. But as the son of both slaves and immigrants, I say it’s time we put an end to the madness.
Allow me to Reintroduce myself,
My name is Joash Ward I was elected by popular vote:
Leader of The Opposition.
Ward seems to have calculated these posts would secure his political ambitions and make national headlines. Throughout the election process, he aggressively courted national press resulting in a story in Blavity that said, “Joash Ward is young, black, and accomplished. At age 16, Ward graduated from Poughkeepsie High School at the top of his class. When he was 19, he graduated from Syracuse University with honors, then went on to receive his master’s in law at age 23 from King’s College in London. From working as an intern for former President Barack Obama at the White House to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ward has used politics to fight for a change in big institutions. Now, he hopes to continue those efforts as he returns to Poughkeepsie to run for mayor.”
Ward has also allowed some to believe that his political rivals are behind it, despite owning the words in an interview with The Poughkeepsie Journal this afternoon . “In speaking with the Journal Thursday afternoon, he referred to himself as ‘the face of the opposition,’ though he was unclear as to what he aims to accomplish, or who he believes sold him out.”
Ward then declined to say what he planned to do next, or if he would attempt to play any role in the community. In his post he said you would not “see my face at the forefront next time,” but said his message would continue in others calling for equality. And though he told the Journal he was encouraging all residents to listen to one another, he contradicted himself soon after.
“There are folks living so far beneath the poverty line and folks living in prosperity and we do not communicate with each other, we do not know each other, we are not listening to each other,” he said. “When folks decide they are prepared to understand their neighbor this city will move forward.”