The city’s teachers’ union endorsed councilman Andre Sayegh for mayor and Zellie Thomas, Maritza Davila, and Lilisa Mimms for the three available at-large council seats on Tuesday.
A seven-person committee put together by the union hosted a “thorough screening process” over a three-day period last month to select the candidates. The Professionals for Effective Action Political Committee, a political action committee run by the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union, announced the endorsements.
“To me it’s a coveted endorsement. As an educator, it is a tremendous honor to have the support of the PEA. Growing up in Paterson, education was the key to my future,” said Sayegh, “My teachers were fundamental to my success. We cannot serve our students if we don’t recognize and support the crucial role our teachers play in our children’s lives.”
Sayegh was among the local leaders to join the teachers’ protest demanding a contract late last month. The union has more than 3,000 members. However, majority of them reside outside of Paterson and will not be able to vote in the municipal elections.
“They are going to mobilize their members,” said Sayegh. This could mean on the ground support for the endorsed campaigns and individual contributions from the membership.
“The endorsement for me, as a person who believes in education, is humbling,” said Mimms. She said the union has provided funding, phone banking, and canvassing to candidates it endorsed in the past.
“I’m proud to be an educator. I’m proud to be an educator in Paterson. I’m honored my work with children and in our community has been recognized by the PEA,” said Thomas.
Sayegh said the union has endorsed candidates for the school board, but has not come out to support candidates for City Hall offices in the past 20 years. “They have not gotten involved in mayoral elections as far back as I can remember,” he said.
“The Paterson Education Association is proud to endorse these candidates because each shares a vision for strong public schools,” said John McEntee, Jr., president of the teachers’ union. The endorsement cited Sayegh’s promise of economic development, improved public safety, and plan to attract new investment to Paterson.