Former Jersey City Councilwoman Viola Richardson, who served as a representative for both Ward F and at-large, has died from COVID-19 complications, officials said this evening.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“These times are hard. We are so sad to share the passing of former Councilwoman Viola Richardson – I served w/her for 8 years on the City Council + she defined “fighter” + “public servant,” Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted minutes ago.
“She was a champion for her ward and a champion for Jersey City. RIP Viola.”
Richardson, 74, served on the council from 2001 from 2013 and was also a retired city police officer. Known for being outspoken and tough, she spearheaded the effort to create the Lafayette Pool and Aquatic Center on Van Horne Street – which took years to get off the ground.
“I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for Viola and her mentorship. What I can remember most about her is just being very honest and up front with everybody,” said Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson.
Viola Richardson supported his appointment to the council back in January 2017, about three-and-a-half years after they had both come up short running on Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s ticket.
“Everything that I wish I could be, that was her: she was a real legislator and a real tough critic. Her giving the nod and the vote of confidence when it mattered really meant a lot.”
Bruce Alston, an activist who ran for a state Assembly seat in 2015 with Viola Richardson’s backing, praised her leadership as he mourned her passing.
“Viola’s passing has left an undeniable hole in local politics especially within the African American community. Her willingness to mentor and advise younger, aspiring politicos was indisputable,” he said.
“I will never forget what she did for me personally in 2015. Viola will be on the Mt. Rushmore of African American leaders in our city.”
On Saturday morning, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) praised Richardson’s “vigorous advocacy in the African American community” when acknowledging her passing.
“I was saddened to learn of former Councilwoman Viola Richardson’s passing. She was an impassioned and principled fighter for what she believed in. I will always appreciate her long service and vigorous advocacy for the African American community,” he said.
“She will be deeply missed. I extend my sincerest condolences to Viola’s family and loved ones, and the Jersey City community to whom she dedicated her life and service.”
The New Jersey Department of Health revealed today that there are 6,411 COVID-19 cases in Hudson County, along with 163 deaths – both the third most in the state by county.
There are currently 2,071 declared cases in Jersey City and 68 related deaths, according to data released by the city.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.