After losing his seat four years ago, former councilman Aslon Goow has re-energized his base to re-take the 2nd Ward council seat.
Goow told a group of about hundred supporters on Saturday afternoon under incumbent Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman the 2nd Ward has regressed.
“The ward has gone backwards,” said Goow citing dirty streets, crime, and tax increases. For the past week, Goow has hammered Akhtaruzzaman over bags of garbage on Ramsey Street. He notes the incumbent passes through that street every day when he leaves his home yet the seven bags of garbage have remained there for more than a month.
Akhtaruzzaman declined to comment on Saturday when asked about the bags of garbage in his neighborhood.
“It’s been an awful past four years,” said Tony Vancheri, who resides in the Hillcrest section. A homeowner, Vancheri disliked Akhtaruzzaman’s handling of the budget votes.
Akhtaruzzaman voted to approve tax increases three years in a row. Only this year, under pressure from the Garret Heights homeowners, did he vote against a budget that carried a 5.8-percent property tax hike.
Goow held up an Akhtaruzzaman campaign literature which promises to reduce taxes. “He is constantly voting for tax increases,” he said pointing to the apparent contradiction. He said the incumbent is promising to reduce taxes yet again after voting to increase them 3 out of the 4 years he’s been in office.
“He’s the only guy who will fight against taxes,” said Helal Uddin of Goow. He said he lives in Totowa, but owns a home in the 2nd Ward.
“I think he’s going to do better,” said Juan Sivori, a 2nd Ward resident. He said his biggest concerns were taxes and crime.
“There’s been a lot of burglaries in the Hillcrest,” said Vancheri. He said crime has increased in the quiet residential streets of the 2nd Ward.
Goow said he plans on being visible and hands on to tackle crime and gang activity in the 2nd Ward. The former councilman has received praise for apprehending robbery suspects, clearing corners, and seizing guns from corner drug dealers.
Huxley Galbraith, a 2nd Ward resident, said he came out to Goow’s headquarter opening on Chamberlain Avenue, to learn about his voting options on May 10th. “I’m leaning towards Goow,” he said.
Goow also slammed the incumbent, who has said he is cleaning up 12 years of “recklessness.”
“I didn’t leave anything wrong with the ward,” said Goow.
Akhtaruzzaman has disagreed and argued that there were 17 assaults on Union Avenue in 2011 under Goow’s watch. He has suggested Goow did not do enough to stop the assaults. Goow has said those attacks were connected to a gang operating from the corner of Sheridan and Crosby Avenues which he went after using the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office.
More supporters came to support Goow on Saturday than during his abortive mayoral run two years ago. The former councilman has a solid base in the 2nd Ward which consistently supports him at the polls, according to local political observers.
“I’m going to be visible and responsible,” Goow promised his supporters.