Former at-large councilman and ex-mayoral candidate Alex Mendez has decided to challenge longtime incumbent William McKoy for the 3rd Ward council seat.
“I’ve been receiving phone calls and phone calls from the constituents and residents of Paterson asking me to run and get back onto the council,” said Mendez on Thursday afternoon. “People see me as a person that gets things done. They see me as a person that’s there when they need me.”
Over the last three months, Mendez twice told the Paterson Times he did not intend to run in the 3rd Ward; however, he had a change of heart after his supporters and residents urged him to re-enter politics, he said.
“I have to listen to the people,” said Mendez. He consulted with his family on Wednesday and received their blessings to run.
Mendez served on the City Council from 2014-18. Before that he served on the Board of Education. He opted not to defend his at-large seat and ran for mayor. He finished second place behind mayor Andre Sayegh in last year’s mayoral race.
“I don’t think he has any real message for the 3rd Ward. I’m not concerned,” said McKoy, who is seeking his sixth term on the council. “The first thing he should do is explain who is funding his campaign. I noticed he sent out a postcard advertising himself. For a guy that’s unemployed you wonder where he’s getting the money to do that.”
McKoy mentioned Mendez’s repeated past failures to file required campaign finance reports on time with the state.
“Councilman McKoy is a bully. He’s always been a bully. He’s talking about things he has no facts or information on,” retorted Mendez. He sent Christmas cards to residents, he said. “I do this every year. I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
Mendez said he has been working as a real estate agent since leaving the City Council almost two years ago.
“Thank God I do well. And I’m doing well for my family. I’m providing for my family,” said Mendez. He said he didn’t need to get himself on the government payroll after departing from the council.
Mendez said he runs his campaigns with “limited resources.”
Both McKoy and Mendez faced each other in the 3rd Ward election in 2012. McKoy narrowly secured a victory over Mendez in that race.
Mendez has become a fierce campaigner since then. He was the highest vote-getter in the 2014 at-large race. However, his brand suffered when he entered the mayoral race last year. His personal, business, and campaign finances were heavily scrutinized in news reports revealing shortcomings, which were heavily exploited by the Sayegh campaign, that ultimately sank his candidacy.
“He’s not able to account for his personal finance. I hate to see what he’ll do for the city,” said McKoy. “All of that will be examined as part of his candidacy.”
McKoy, who beat back three well-known opponents four years ago to hold onto his seat, is not an easy mark for Mendez.
McKoy said Mendez shouldn’t “waste his time in an area where there is no need.”
“The 3rd Ward is well-represented and everyone will attest to that,” said McKoy.