Two candidates have been certified for the 6th Ward city council race on Monday afternoon, according to the city clerk.
Incumbent Andre Sayegh will be defending his seat against challengers Alaa “Al” Abdelaziz.
The 6th Ward race is expected to be a pitched battle between Sayegh and Abdelaziz. Already, the incumbent has been outstripped by the challenger in fundraising.
Abdelaziz has on hand $47,500 while the incumbent has $27,000 in his campaign account, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) records.
The challengers is also backed by mayor Jose “Joey” Torres making Abdelaziz a formidable opponent for the incumbent in the 6th Ward. Will Torres’ endorsement hurt Abdelaziz more than it will help? That much remains unclear as the mayor’s political fortunes have taken a negative turn over the past six months as a third of property owners have waged mass protests blaming tax increases on the mayor.
In fact, Sayegh has been leading many of those protests against the mayor. Abdelaziz also backed Torres’ unsuccessful recreation tax ballot initiative in November of last year.
Sayegh celebrated voters’ overwhelming rejection of Torres’ recreation tax as a victory. Abdelaziz since then has been on the defensive after having backed the failed tax. He has repeatedly said he backed the tax to give voters the choice to decide for themselves whether to fund recreation in the city.
It’s not clear how Abdelaziz’s explanation will go with tax averse South Paterson and Lakeview section voters.
Torres also appointed Abdelaziz to the city’s planning board after coming into office. Abdelaziz backed Sayegh during the mayoral election.
Sayegh and Abdelaziz have fallen out since that election. Both have engaged in back and forth attacks at city council meetings over the past few months.
Sayegh won the 6th Ward seat with 1,387 votes in 2012. Eliecer Montoya, who came in second place, collected 375 ballots, according to election records.