Former public safety director Glenn Brown dropped out of the city’s mayoral race on Friday morning. His withdrawal was expected for weeks; his former campaign manager endorsed councilman Andre Sayegh over the weekend.
“I have decided to step back from the race and support the candidate whom I will not identify today,” said Brown. “However, keep in mind he has to be the candidate willing to represent every segment of this city. He will have to have the vision to bring this city forward and not settle for the status quo.”
Brown would not identify the person he will endorse on Friday morning when contacted by the Paterson Times. He said he will make an announcement in the “immediate future” who he intends to endorse for the race that has a dozen candidates.
Other mayoral candidates reacted to Brown’s withdrawal.
“He was never in the race,” said councilman Michael Jackson. “I felt from the beginning he was an operative for the Democratic Party.” He said the party is likely to endorse Sayegh for mayor.
“He certainly doesn’t have a broad base,” said councilman William McKoy.
Some have suggested Brown picked up petitions to use as leverage to land a job in the city government. “He’s looking for something. Who better to get it from than Andre, who is willing to give the city away to anyone,” said Jackson.
“That’s the rumor. I heard that rumor for a long time that Andre offered him to be public safety director,” added former school board member Pedro Rodriguez. “If Andre becomes mayor, you’ll see Glenn Brown back in the helm of public safety.”
Rodriguez said Sayegh has been promising cabinet level jobs to a number of people. He said several people have bragged about being offered jobs in a possible Sayegh administration.
“It’s a double-edged sword. People do talk,” said McKoy of offering cabinet jobs prior to winning office. He said when multiple people are offered the same job a candidate’s credibility suffers.
Former Passaic County sheriff Jerry Speziale currently holds the public safety director post.
“If director Brown endorses me it’s because he believes I can reach every section of our city,” said councilman Andre Sayegh in response.
Sayegh said he is happy with Speziale as public safety director. He indicated Brown has not asked him for a job.
Brown’s withdrawal comments hint at a possible Sayegh endorsement. For example, he says he is looking to endorse someone who will represent “every segment of this city.” Sayegh’s campaign has been focused on bringing together the different ethnic groups that call the Silk City home.
Brown previously served as public safety director after an appointment by former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. He served through the administration of Jeffery Jones. Torres removed Brown from the police director post, but kept him as fire director.
Brown resigned from the fire director position for a job at the school district that never materialized. He later ended up with a job at the Passaic County Community College.
“He is doing very well at PCCC,” remarked Sayegh.
Brown is the latest candidate, who picked up petitions, but decided to drop out before returning the needed signatures to the City Clerk. Last week, activist Valerie Freeman dropped out of the race, and endorsed McKoy.
The deadline to enter the race is March 5. Not all of the candidates have been certified to be on the ballot.
Jackson acknowledged Brown’s departure from the race improves his chances. Indeed, there’s now one less division in the African-American community. Those who would have voted for Brown may end up voting for McKoy or Jackson.
“You can make that argument,” added Sayegh. “If he’s decided not to run I’d obviously graciously accept his endorsement.”
Rodriguez, who handled strategy and planning for Torres four years ago, agreed Brown’s withdrawal may do harm to Sayegh’s candidacy. “He’s not much of a strategist,” he said speaking of Sayegh.
Sayegh needs to ensure the larger ethnic groups do not band together behind a single candidate in order to win, according to political strategists.
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This report was updated at 1:04 p.m.