Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres is reportedly considering to run a slate of candidates in next year’s ward elections. Torres’ plan garnered mostly ambivalent reactions from incumbent council members who will be defending their seats in May 2016.
“The mayor can endorse who he likes for the ward races,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman. “I’m not concerned because I know what I’m doing in my ward.”
Torres on Monday morning would not confirm if he intends to run a slate of candidates next year. A report in PolitickerNJ has the mayor quoted as saying he is considering a slate for the upcoming ward elections.
Cotton said she has too many things on her plate to be worrying about whether the mayor is going to run someone against her next year.
“I’m ready for a challenge,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman. “I’m going to run on a record of results.”
Torres’ main target in his plan to run a slate of candidate is Sayegh, who finished second in last year’s mayoral election, and remained a constant thorn in his side, opposing many of the mayor’s major undertakings.
The 6th Ward councilman opposed Torres’ massive $35 million borrowing that will be shouldered by future generations of Patersonians.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, had the strongest reaction against Torres’ candidate slate. “I think he’s making a big mistake,” said Akhtaruzzaman. He said the mayor will upset the balance that exists between the executive and the legislative branches of local government if he gets his way.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, recalled being part of former mayor Martin G. Barnes’ slate in 2000. “I was one of those he supported in that run,” said McKoy. “The results were not very successful.”
McKoy said out of the six candidates Barnes ran he was the only one to capture office. “It goes to show you have to have a message, your own qualifications, and those qualifications have to be what the ward residents are looking for. If you meet their criteria you will be elected,” he said.
The mayor’s support is likely to be “important and significant,” but it does not guarantee a win, said McKoy.
When asked if he is worried about Torres’ plan, Akhtaruzzaman, who won the same seat twice, said the mayor ran his wife against him the last time around. “I’m not concerned at all,” said Akhtaruzzaman. He ran his wife against me, said the 2nd Ward councilman.
Akhtaruzzaman, Cotton, and McKoy have been supportive of the mayor’s agenda in the past year.
Torres can only vote in the 2nd Ward where he resides and will not be able to vote in the five other ward races. Each ward has different needs and different composition of people, said council members.
Many wards have “peculiar” needs and will select the candidate who residents think will best further those needs, said McKoy.
“It depends on how people in that area feel about the mayor,” added Sayegh, when asked whether an endorsement from Torres would provide a boost. It’s not clear what kind of support Torres can provide to a slate of candidates that he is considering. Whether he intends to financially support them or provide some sort of moral support.
Cotton said she promised her ward residents that she will work with any administration that happens to be in the mayor’s office to better the city. She said, “His [Torres'] goal should be to work with whomever is in that ward to the best of his ability. He’s been trying to do that.”
Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, could not be reached for comments for this story.