Councilman William McKoy kicked off his mayoral run before a crowd of more than two hundred people on Saturday night promising a “new day” for Paterson. In a seven-minute speech, McKoy, the longest serving member on the city council, promised cleaner and safer streets to a mostly African-American audience at the Masonic Lodge.
“The problems of Paterson are not insurmountable. They can be fixed. They can be corrected,” McKoy told an estimated crowd of 250 people. “We have a notion anything goes in Paterson. That day has come and gone.”
McKoy, 61, did not lay out specifics to address the many issues afflicting the city of 147,000 people in his brief speech. However, he broadly mentioned some of the pressing items that he intends to tackle as mayor. He wants to rehabilitate abandoned properties using the Department of Public Works (DPW). He also made reference to a proposal he floated in 2014 to start an in-house garbage collection program to create employment for residents and generate revenue through shared services agreements with neighboring municipalities.
McKoy also railed against disgraced mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ borrowing binge that has greatly eroded the city’s debit capacity.
“Put away the credit card. Put away the excessive spending,” McKoy told the cheering crowd of supporters. His supporters braved the frigid weather to make it to the campaign kick-off. Tickets to the event ranged from $25 to $500. Many of his supporters praised him for his integrity.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a clean guy,” said Noreen McCoy, 53, a resident of the 1st Ward. “You’ve never heard anything bad about him.” McKoy’s message to clean the city’s streets resonated with McCoy. “We need to clean up the city. We’re not a dumping ground,” she said.
McCoy hopes the councilman will do something to curb the flow of drug addicts into the city. She opposes the needle program on Broadway and hopes McCoy as mayor will take steps to shut it down. She said social services programs like that attract miscreants into the Silk City.
McCoy also hopes McKoy will stabilize taxes and put an end to the annual property tax increases.
Princess Reeves, 57, a resident of the 3rd Ward, said McKoy will bring “honesty” as mayor. McKoy, who is chief auditor at the Jersey City Public School District, never mentioned Torres in his brief speech, but it was evident the ex-mayor was on his mind when he railed against public corruption.
“We’re committed to making sure the government works for the people and not for those that are in government. We’re here to make sure that we’re putting something in your pocket and not putting my hand in your pocket,” said McKoy. “I’ve been prepared all my life for this position. Now is the time to take the reins and let everybody know integrity matters, honesty matters.”
Torres and three public works supervisors took guilty pleas for stealing from taxpayers. Torres’ guilty plea carries a five-year prison sentence. McKoy endorsed Torres in 2014. When Torres was indicted in March, McKoy lead an unsuccessful effort to force the mayor to resign.
“He’s a good man. That’s what I like about him. He’s a good, clean guy,” said Mario Young, 55, a resident of the 6th Ward, of McKoy.
Talena Lachelle Queen, 45, resident of the 2nd Ward, pointed to the diversity of the crowd. The attendees included Africans, Jamaicans, and Haitians. These groups are often lumped into the category of black or African-American.
“On the surface it looks like one, but it’s really not,” said Queen.
The Masonic Lodge is located in the mostly African-American 4th Ward. The crowd was expected to be mostly African-Americans. McKoy will need to garner the support of the city’s other communities if he is to win next year in a race that has more than a dozen interested candidates.
“If we work together we can overcome every problem. We can reduce crime. We can reduce property taxes. We can improve our city schools. We can improve the quality of life. We can rid our city of drugs. We can rehabilitate every community and every house in the City of Paterson,” concluded McKoy. “We look forward to 2018 when we shall have a new day and a new mayor.”
Listen to McKoy’s full speech below: