Former councilman Alex Mendez, who came in second place in last year’s mayoral race, claims mayor Andre Sayegh is targeting him and his supporters.
Mendez cited few examples in a 10-minute interview with the Paterson Times on Wednesday morning. He said he was issued a summons, forcing him to appear three times before a judge in Clifton municipal court, for charges that were ultimately dismissed last month.
“They sent me to court right after the election for illegal political signs,” said Mendez. He said he appeared a third time at the Clifton court with pictures of Sayegh signs in different parts of the city. “If you go around the town, you’ll see Andre Sayegh signs all over the city. So, why is the law only for me and not for him?”
Mendez said he was issued the ticket two months after the mayoral election. Some of Mendez’s signs were posted on utility poles which is forbidden by municipal ordinance. He said the ticket wasn’t for signs on poles, but on a property owned by one of his supporters.
He cited the shuttering of a television studio on Main Street that he used during the mayoral campaign to claim his supporters are being targeted. Fausto Cruz, who ran the television studio out of 482 Main Street, pleaded guilty on Friday to operating the studio without getting proper zoning permits.
Cruz was issued four tickets. Three were dismissed. He received a paltry $350 penalty.
“The only reason why they went after Fausto Cruz was because he is one my supporters and he allowed me to use [his studio],” said Mendez. He repeatedly claimed it was a “legitimate” TV studio.
Mendez hosted a television show from the studio.
“We are only enforcing the law,” said mayor Andre Sayegh in a terse statement on Wednesday morning.
The summonses in the studio case resulted from a complaint made to the Community Improvement Division. David Gilmore, head of the division, is not an ally of Sayegh. Gilmore was one of Sayegh’s opponent in 2014 mayoral race.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” said Mendez when asked why would Gilmore, who is not an ally of the mayor, issue tickets for Sayegh. “This administration is targeting everybody that’s close to Alex Mendez and that’s a fact.”
Sayegh’s administration also hired one of Mendez’s close confidantes Omar Ledesma at the health department.
If Sayegh was targeting all his supporters why would he allow Ledesma to get a job with the city?
“I’m not saying that they are targeting all my people,” replied Mendez.
Mendez also said Ramon Leon, co-owner of a transportation company, was targeted by the administration.
“It’s not him,” said a person at the company referring to Sayegh. “It’s the people around him. People around Andre are connivers and lowlifes.” Municipal inspectors visited the company numerous times, said the person.
Mendez said he had been silent on political subjects following the election. He said he has been busy with his real estate business and running his nonprofit Alex Mendez Foundation. He criticized Sayegh for raising taxes.
There is speculation Mendez may attempt to run for the 3rd Ward seat in 2020.
“The mayor has to stop harassing Alex Mendez supporters and do his job as mayor. He should stop going around singing karaoke and harassing people,” said Mendez.