After a contentious vote in the city council last year that placed the current council president in charge of the agenda, the governing body is heading for another equally contentious vote come July 1st.
Two men: William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, and Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, have been lobbying their colleagues for votes for next month’s reorganization. McKoy seems to have solidified support amongst those who voted against Andre Sayegh, current council president and 6th Ward councilman, during the last reorganization.
Sayegh has been the subject of jeers and invectives during his tenure at the helm of the council.
Most notably during the last election, when speakers, during the public portion of the council meeting, hurled all sorts of abuse at the president, some coloring him with the brushes of venality over campaign contributions.
Other times, unhappy speakers murmured against the president as he enforced the three-minute rule on speakers. Not only was the public beyond management for the current council president, even his own colleagues often engaged in verbal skirmishes during workshop sessions shattering decorum.
“I’m looking at the future of Paterson and the one who sets the agenda is the council president, and for us right now, we need to go with a seasoned individual,” said Anthony Davis, 1st Ward councilman.
“It is my hope my colleagues will put the best interest of the city first and provide a clear indication to the people of Paterson that there’s a willingness to move forward,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
Davis, who has served as president twice, and Morris, who was council president three times, have said McKoy has their support. Other council members were not so unequivocal when asked who is likely to receive their support.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, said he is uncertain as to who he is likely to support. Last year, Akhtaruzzaman supported Sayegh and during the recent election he hung around with Tavarez, suggesting he is likely to back the 5th Ward councilman.
During the most recent council meeting, few residents who have traditionally been foes of the 5th Ward councilman, expressed their dismay at the possibility of Tavarez becoming the next president of the council.
Opponents complained Tavarez has been absent more often than present. In fiscal year 2013, Tavarez missed half of the council’s public meetings: he missed 38 out of 72 meetings.
The new comers: Maritza Davila and Alex Mendez also expressed ambiguity when asked who might receive their support.
“I’ve received couple of phone calls,” said Mendez. “I have two choices in mind, but I haven’t decided yet.”
Davila said she has been contacted by one council member who might get her vote. She appeared more eager to get into the council and begin working.
Davila said she is interested in several committees: public safety, education, community development, and public works.
“We have to increase the morale with the employees and get the right tools for our DPW workers to be able to function and do their jobs right,” said Davila. “You want to bring the morale up, you want to bring them up to ‘you know what, maybe I can be the next assistant director of the director.’”
Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, who voted in favor of Sayegh last time around, may be one of the deciding votes next month.
“It really shouldn’t be that complicated, and even now, I don’t think it will be too complicated,” said McKoy, who has been council president twice before. McKoy said with him there won’t be unnecessary antagonism and posturing.
“People go back and forth,” remarked McKoy. “They’ll change their minds between now and July 1st.”
Tavarez could not be reached for comments for this story; Sayegh did not respond to a message seeking his comments.