South Paterson community leader Al Abdelaziz, who ran a ferocious campaign against councilman Andre Sayegh two years ago, has decided to back him for mayor. His endorsement significantly boosts the mayoral candidate’s chances of capturing the entire Arab voting bloc.
“We buried the hatched to work for what’s best for the 6th Ward,” said Abdelaziz on Thursday morning. He said Sayegh has agreed to take on some of his ideas like running a police substation out of the South Paterson Library on Main Street. “I know firsthand his work ethic and his passion for Paterson. It is time for Paterson to have a mayor who believes in Paterson’s future and who will fight for that future.”
Sayegh said he was “very proud” to have Abdelaziz in his “corner.”
“Al was a formidable opponent in 2016 and I know he cares deeply about the future of our city. Even as opponents, we shared a love for Paterson and a commitment to its people,” said Sayegh.
Abdelaziz backed Sayegh in his abortive 2014 mayoral run. Two years later, he received the moral and financial support of former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres to oust Sayegh from the 6th Ward council seat.
Both men had a tough time piecing together their relationship following the election. If Sayegh gets elected as mayor, Abdelaziz has the chance to run again for the 6th Ward council seat.
“I think it’s too premature,” said Abdelaziz when asked if he plans to run for the 6th Ward in the event of a vacancy. “You don’t count your chickens before the eggs hatch.”
Sayegh will have to give up his council seat if elected mayor which will trigger a special election.
Abdelaziz plans to work on getting the votes out for Sayegh. He is also known for running successful fundraisers. “We’re going to hit the ground running,” he said.
There is no clear way to measure how much support each of the six men running for mayor have among the city’s Arab community. However, Sayegh has an upper hand, for he is ethnically Arab.
Sayegh though is not Muslim. Majority of the Arabs in South Paterson are Muslim. His wife is Muslim.
When asked which candidates are likely to get the biggest portions of the Arab vote, Abdelaziz replied, “I don’t know.”