A conservative who was a former tax-cutting mayor, Thomas Rooney has endorsed Jose Torres, former two-term mayor, for the May election. By endorsing Torres, Rooney effectively overlooked Andre Sayegh, the 6th Ward councilman.
Sayegh did not get the former councilman’s endorsement because he supported an effort to guarantee a $42 million dollars bond to Medical Missions for Children, a charity, to build a hotel near St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“I did the analysis of this, and I was shocked,” said Rooney, who endorsed Torres on Friday. “For the first seven years of the life of this bond the tax payers of Paterson would be responsible to make the annual mortgage payments on this project if the organization said that they couldn’t afford it.”
Rooney said he found a letter that was sent from the council to the mayor endorsing the project that bore Sayegh’s signature. “Andre gave his approval. And to me this was the worst financial deal or proposal I ever saw,” said Rooney.
Sayegh said in 2010, when he, Torres, and Jones fought it out, the former mayor backed Torres. “He endorsed me for council in 2008,” said Sayegh. “He endorsed Torres for mayor in 2010.”
Rooney did not buy that Torres left the city $70 million in the red. When asked about the $74,000 check the former mayor took before leaving office, Rooney said it had to have been approved by payroll and the council’s finance committee, both of which failed to keep the mayor in check.
Rooney gave his blessings to Sayegh in 2008 when he ran for the 6th Ward council seat; however, the hotel project turned him off because it deviated from the principles of fiscal conservatism.
The former mayor said he endorsed Torres because he brought Center City Mall, Lowes, and Home Depot into the city. “He brought Home Depot into Paterson, and then he brought Lowes into Paterson,” said Rooney.
The former councilman who served 28-years in the council, said he also valued the experience Torres possesses. “You want somebody that can go into the mayor’s office and start right in from the first day working to make improvements,” said Rooney.
“I supported him when he ran before,” said Rooney. “He’s a pleasure to work with.”
Updated: February 17th, 2014 — Sayegh’s remark added.