Mayoral candidate Alex Cruz proposed to protect newly paved roadways from utility companies that rip up blacktop by putting in place a “resolution” barring the practice.
“They don’t do that in Bergen County. Why don’t we put in a resolution with the utilities — if they disturb a brand new paved street that they have to resurface the entire street they disturbed,” said Cruz at a forum on Mar. 28.
Except, his opponents in the race pointed out, such a measure already exists.
“The great new idea he is talking about is already on the books,” remarked former school board member Pedro Rodriguez in response to Cruz’s lack of knowledge of the existing ordinance. “It’s called curb to curb.”
The city council adopted measures that require PSEG and other utility companies to resurface newly paved streets “curb to curb.”
“We have an enforcement issue,” Rodriguez told the audience at the forum. He blamed the lack of enforcement on out-of-town directors. “Many of our directors don’t live here. They don’t have skin in the game,” he said.
Cruz, who is the president of the police officers’ union, attended his first forum last month. He was cleared to run for office in the city by a Passaic County judge after his candidacy was challenged by two city residents over residency.
Some of his opponents in the six-person race issue subtle reminders of his residency problem at the forum.
“I never moved out of Paterson,” said Rodriguez. He has four boys – three at the Gifted and Talented Academy at School 28 and one at International High School – who attend school in the city.
Cruz’s has three children. Two attend the Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls. His children, he said in court, live with their mother in Little Falls.
“It brings me no shame to raise my kids here. I want my kids to go to the same playgrounds as your kids,” said Rodriguez to the audience. “I want my wife to go and shop at the same supermarket that every single one of you go to.”
Rodriguez came to Paterson at age 12 from the Dominican Republic. He is an electronic engineer and works for the police department.
“I’m a lifelong Patersonians,” said councilman Michael Jackson.
“Paterson is the only home I’ve ever known,” added Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, who described himself as the “mayor of the 6th Ward.”
Other highlights from the forum:
- Councilman William McKoy promised an “open government. “We propose to have a separate time for citizens like yourself to meet with the mayor,” he told the crowd.
- Sayegh promised to fix city parks and recreation facilities using grant money, he said. He also proposed to create a tech hub in the city. “This has to become a tech city,” said Sayegh.
- Jackson proposed to offer police and fire employees stipends to encourage them to live in Paterson.
Councilman Alex Mendez was a no-show at the second mayoral forum.