Speaking to a small group of supporters inside a restaurant on Montclair Avenue, Jose Torres, former two-term mayor, touted some of his successes as mayor, while highlighting what he plans to do during a third term.
“Take the Route 20 corridor,” said Torres on Thursday evening. “We brought Pep Boys back to Paterson after they had left for decades.” The former mayor said he also brought Home Depot and Micro Center to the city. And Mamajuana Cafe, which opened less than two years ago, came about as a result of his work, said Torres.
Torres, who also brought Center City Mall, said if given a third term he will continue to bring businesses into the city to reduce the tax burden on residential property owners.
Torres stressed that without safe streets businesses are reluctant to come into the city. He said, when he was in office crime was down to 1965 levels; however, in recent years it has skyrocketed, said the former mayor.
“When crime was running rampant in the 6th Ward in a place called the Alexander Hamilton Projects” his administration intervened, and tore down the building, said Torres. The former mayor said he shut down the Alexander Hamilton Projects, a government housing complex on Alabama Avenue, in the city’s 6th Ward.
“The same thing we did, when we knocked down the Christopher Columbus Projects, on the other side of town, and now in Sandy Court there’s beautiful, safe, clean, decent homes,” said Torres. “You see the return of a quality of life.”
In a third term, said Torres, he will bring back his policy of setting up mobile precincts in crime ridden neighborhoods to suppress criminal activity. “In two of the wards where the highest crime rate was, I brought in a trailer and created a mobile precinct, so that we can get a better handle of the crime within that ward,” said Torres. “I promise and commit to you we will do it again.”
Torres also indicated that once in office he will hire more police officers. “For every thousand resident you should have a police officer,” said Torres.
The former mayor said he has a plan to address the city’s pothole infested roads. “A five year plan in which we will see every single road in this town addressed,” said Torres, while stating he will go street by street to repair every road.
Torres owned that such a project would be costly, but it could be done. “We get a modest grant under the state transportation grant, DOT grant,” said Torres, who stated that he used to seek matching funds from the City Council to resurface city roads. “I got two-million and I borrowed two-million and matched it, that now gave me four-million, that’s what I used,” said Torres.
In 2011, the city received only $509,860, according to document from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The former mayor said he’s hesitant of releasing his five year plan because other candidates might steal it and claim it as their own.
Torres said he would match grants with short-term borrowing to fund infrastructure improvements. “You cannot burden the taxpayer for infrastructure, those are monumental line items,” said Torres. “All my borrowing was done on short-term.”
Torres said the city cannot afford to have a new mayor, who will learn on the job. “Experience is the key element why I’m asking you to support my candidacy,” said Torres. “I don’t think we can afford to have someone to learn on the job.”