During a small gathering at his campaign office, Aslon Goow, former 2nd Ward councilman, vowed to residents that if he is unable to turn the tide on crime within a year after being elected mayor, he will resign from office.
“If I cannot prove to you that I can reduce crime in Paterson and make it cleaner and safer in just one year, I will step down,” said Goow in front of a gathering of about 50 people on Saturday afternoon. “I will allow you to elect somebody else without having to wait four more years.”
Goow, who is employed as a special police officer in Haledon, talked about his hands-on approach in the 2nd Ward during his 12-year reign representing that section of the city. Goow stated that it was this sort of an approach that drove out the gangs and drug dealers from corners of Crosby, Totowa, and Manchester Avenues.
“I was the most responsive, I was visible; I was out here on the streets, I was doing what Frank Graves was doing,” said Goow in a brief speech on Chamberlain Avenue. “I pulled up to the corners, I talked to the gangs; I talked to the drug dealers.”
The former councilman said he spoke to the criminal elements to persuade them to leave their corner hangouts, and when talking didn’t work, he said, he locked them up. “I didn’t just come down on them, I warned them,” said Goow.
“I personally have recovered 16 guns,” said the former councilman while reading off a list of 2nd Ward’s crime ridden avenues: Manchester and Sheridan Avenues; Totowa and Paterson Avenues.
At the cheer of a friendly audience, Goow said, “I didn’t want my name in the newspaper every time.”
An astute politician, Goow began his speech by clearing the air on a rumor that has been circulating for months, mainly, that the former councilman is a racist. “Few people got that perception that ‘that guy he’s a racist’,” said Goow, tracking back to an event that happened during his City Council presidency that gave birth to the rumor.
“Jeffery Jones gave all his directors a $20,000 raise,” said Goow. When the council attempted to take back the mayor’s increases – done based on a 2006 ordinance that allows cost-of-living increases – by saying the administration violated a 2004 ordinance that set the salaries for mayor and directors, the council met some resistance.
Indeed, the mayor raised his salary from $95,000 to $119,000; business administrator $88,152 to $114,400 – other administration officials saw similar salary increases (it should be noted Jose Torres received a salary of $118,757 during his last year).
When the council noticed the increase it held hearings to get to the bottom of the matter. During that hearing Christopher Coke, the director of Public Works Department, was chastised by Goow for making perceived faces at members of the council.
A supporter of Coke, Casey Melvin, who was in the audience broke decorum by demanding the council president apologize to Coke, at which point Goow had Melvin hauled out of the council chamber. Melvin and others then compiled a video “Goow Gone Wild” that was circulated around the internet which suggested Goow was a racist.
“In 12 years that I been there, one incident is what everybody wants to remember about me that went bad,” said Goow in an attempt to quash the rumor.
Goow alluded to reforming the city’s police department. He said, “You have cops now that are four days on and they have four days off,” suggesting he will adjust the practice. His campaign has said a document, some 28 pages long, will be released soon showing Goow’s plan for the city.
“Today, it’s the crime that’s the worst issue,” said Goow. “How am I going to prove to you I’m the guy?” Goow asked rhetorically. “I’ve proved it in the 2nd ward.”
The former councilman said he would tackle the crime problem on a street level. “This mayor has to be on the street,” said Goow. The chief of police should live in the city, said Goow, pointing to another piece he has longed to implement.
Goow encouraged his supporters to volunteer to lead a strong grassroots campaign. He owned that raising money hasn’t been a walk in the park. “It hasn’t been easy raising the monies we thought we’re going to get,” said Goow. The former councilman has yet to file his campaign finance report making it difficult to calculate his current campaign war chest. “We’re going to raise our money, absolutely,” said Goow.
“Our base is strong,” said Goow, “the same number I got in the three elections, I got in the last election.” Goow’s base appears to have remained the same based on election data, during each election he managed to garner the same level of support without much change.
The former councilman focused greatly on public safety and did not talk much about economic development. He seems to believe, once the streets are safe, investments into the city are bound to follow. “Nobody’s going to invest in Paterson as it is, it’s dangerous, it’s not a safe city, it’s not a clean city.”