Maritza Davila received the support of her colleagues for the City Council presidency on Sunday afternoon.
Davila, who started her second four-year term on the council today, was selected in a 5-2-1 vote. She vied against Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, for the presidency.
“As long as it’s right for Paterson, it’s going to be right by me,” said Davila told mayor Andre Sayegh after the vote. She suggested she will work with the new administration. “This is not about having a division.”
Davila received the support of council members Michael Jackson, Shahin Khalique, William McKoy, and Flavio Rivera. She also had her own vote to claim the presidency. Cotton and Lilisa Mimms voted against Davila while Luis Velez abstained.
Khalique and Velez fought over nominating their candidates. Velez nominated Cotton and Khalique nominated Davila.
Velez was first to get the attention of the city clerk, who temporarily presides as the chair at the reorganization meeting until a new president is selected. Khalique began speaking over Velez to nominate Davila without getting the clerk’s attention.
“I finished the sentence first,” Khalique argued. Parliamentary procedures require a member to get the attention of the chair prior to nominating a candidate for president.
City clerk Sonia Gordon had to get an opinion to settle the two men’s dispute from the city’s chief attorney Khalifah Shabazz.
Shabazz’s opinion favored Velez.
Cotton needed four votes to create a tie that would allow Sayegh to cast the deciding vote in her favor. She had the support of Velez, Mimms, and herself. She fell short by one vote.
Some audience members jeered McKoy and Jackson for voting for Davila.
“Everyone on the council deserves an opportunity to serve as the chair,” Jackson told the audience.
Jackson was selected vice president.
Both Davila and Cotton battled for the council presidency last year. Davila fell short last year. Some of the bitterness between the two women has remained.
“She says she has been here for 40 years. I’ve been here for 47. I’m born and raised and educated in this city,” said Davila referring to Cotton. “My dedication shows by the thousands of people that voted for me to get me re-elected. I’ve been working and I will continue to work. I don’t want anyone here to get it twisted, please. I want us to be respectful to one and another.”
Some council members operated with total freedom over the past year, under Cotton, often breaking decorum. Davila will have to rein in the excesses.