Mayor-elect Andre Sayegh announced his 36-person transition team on Tuesday afternoon. His transition team is lead by former New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice director Vaugh McKoy.
McKoy will serve as the chairman of the team made up of 11 committees. Each will examine the current state of municipal government, make recommendation for improvement, and pave the way for a Sayegh administration to take the reins of government on Jul. 1, 2018.
Sayegh, who made history on election night by becoming the first Arab-American to win the mayor’s office, described his transition team as one that represents the diverse ethnic communities of the Silk City.
“As I said throughout my campaign, we intend to unite this city into One Paterson,” said Sayegh, who for 10 years represented the 6th Ward. “We will do it, in part, by bringing together talented men and women and working to build a better city government capable of responding to the needs of all Patersonians.”
His transition team includes some former municipal directors: former public works director Christopher Coke, ex-business administrator Eli Burgos, and former public safety director Glenn Brown.
Brown served as public safety director under former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and Jeffery Jones. He ended his campaign for mayor to endorse Sayegh earlier in the year.
Burgos served as Torres’ business administrator. He is a close friend of the disgraced mayor. Burgos was the first person to appear at the sentencing of his friend and former mayor Torres at the Hudson County Superior Court late last year.
Sayegh served as the main opposition to the Torres administration for almost four years.
Coke served as public works director under Jones. Under his watch, municipal roads were difficult to traverse during winters. His department failed to properly clear streets following snowstorms.
He also failed to plug potholes that became a major issue in the 2014 mayoral campaign. Torres seized the opportunity during his 2014 campaign and announced he would make a $35 million investment into primary roads to address potholes.
Coke was also responsible for purchasing seven European street sweepers for $1.25 million that frequently broke down leaving municipal streets unswept for weeks in some cases. The city last year had to spend another $1 million to buy four new sweepers to avoid skyrocketing repair bills for the European machines that Coke recommended for purchase as Jones’ public works director.
Coke’s alleged actions against his predecessor Manuel Ojeda led to a lawsuit that cost taxpayers $212,000.
Sayegh’s transition team co-chairs are:
- Eli Burgos, former City Business Administrator
- Ed Cotton, former Chief of Staff to Bill Pascrell, Jr. when he served as mayor
- Rev. Kenneth Clayton, Pastor, St. Luke’s Baptist Church
- Bob Guarasci, CEO, New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC)
- Elsa Mantilla, President, Dominican Parade and Festival
- Rania Mustafa, Executive Director, Palestinian American Community Center
- Ramon Pagan, Co-Pastor, Congregation Rock of Salvation
- Jane Williams-Warren, Mayor of Paterson.
Sayegh’s 11 transition committees are listed below:
Arts, Culture & Tourism:
Sharon Smith, Retired Principal and Educator, Paterson Public Schools
Richard Polton, Managing Director, Integra Realty Resources
Kathy Esquiche, ESL & World Languages Department Chair, International High School, Paterson
Administration, Budget & Finance:
Matt Watkins, Business Administrator, Bloomfield
Jerome St. John, Retired Superior Court Judge
Community & Economic Development:
Michael Powell, Executive Director of Continuing Education & Workforce Development, Passaic County Community College
Barbara Dunn, Executive Director, Paterson Habitat for Humanity
Carlos Medina, Chair, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
Environment, Infrastructure & Public Works:
Kenneth Simpson, Supervisor of Roads, County of Passaic
Chris Coke Director, Director, East Orange Department of Public Works
Health & Human Services:
Dr. Jabeen Ahmed, Business Owner, Sheefa Pharmacy & Medical Center
Kevin J. Slavin, President & CEO, St. Joseph’s Health
Sonia Rosado, Executive Director, Hispanic Multi-Purpose Service Center
Khalifa Shabazz, Esq., Shabazz & Associates, LLC
Baye Wilson, Esq., Rainone Coughlin Minchello, LLC
Recreation, Education & Youth:
William “Kemper” McDowell, Executive Director of Family & Community Engagement, Paterson Public Schools
Rosie Grant, Executive Director, Paterson Education Fund
Javier Fernandez, President, Hijos Y Amigos De Columbia
Public Safety & Prevention:
Richard Reyes, Retired Captain, City of Paterson Police Department
Anthony Ambrose, Public Safety Director, City of Newark
Glenn Brown, Director of Security, Passaic County Community College
Kenyatta Stewart Esq., Corporation Counsel, City of Newark
Ferdous Hussain, Senior Analytics and Business Reporting, Novartis
Joseph A. Hayden, Jr., Esq., Pashman, Stein, Walder, Hayden
Rev. Douglas Maven, Pastor, First A.M.E. Zion Church
Labor & Workforce Development:
Dr. Steven Rose, President, Passaic County Community College
John Ballantyne, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.
Sayegh is expected to make other appointments to the committees.