Council Appoints Virginia Eaton To Serve Out Her Husband’s Term As Montclair Mayor

The Montclair City Council this week appointed Virginia Eaton to serve out the remainder of her husband’s term as mayor. Paul Eaton stepped down as mayor on July 5, as health considerations had prevented him from physically attending city council meetings since March.
Councilwoman Carolyn Raft nominated Eaton, who often goes by “Ginger.” No other suggestions were made or nominations entertained. The council then voted unanimously to approve her selection.
Virginia Eaton was sworn into the office on the spot by City Clerk Andrea Phillips.
Virginia Eaton’s political ascendancy very likely preserves what should be an open mayoral election in November, when the term Paul Eaton was elected to in 2014 expires. It is anticipated that Virginia Eaton will not vie in that contest.
Appointments to elected office vacancies carry with them political implication, as incumbency statistically endows office holders with an eight-to-11 percentage point advantage against challengers. There has been speculation that any of the four current council members – Raft, who has been in office since 1992; John Dutrey, who has been in office since 1996; Bill Ruh, who has been in office since 1998; and Trisha Martinez, who has been in office since 2014 – would be interested in moving into the mayor’s post.
Virginia Eaton has lived in Montclair 53 years, since moving there with Paul and their young family in 1965. Her husband, to whom she has been married for 60 years, came into office the same way in which she did. He was appointed to the city council in 1988. Seven years later, with the departure of then-Mayor Larry Rhinehart, Paul Eaton was appointed mayor.

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