Restaurant owner Michael Jackson was sworn in on Tuesday afternoon to finish the remainder of disgraced former 1st Ward councilman Anthony Davis’ term.
Jackson won a decisive victory against three opponents during the November 3rd, 2015 special election catapulting himself to the seat occupied in the intervening time by community leader and pastor James Staton.
The businessman received 714 votes while his nearest opponent school board member Manny Martinez secured 443, according to official election results.
“You ran a clean campaign,” praised Alex Mendez, councilman at-large. The special election was characterized by savage attacks hurled by each candidate against the others, especially so in the last forum at the council chambers.
Jackson’s opponent assailed him for defaulting on a $140,000 Paterson Restoration Corporation loan in the most recent election as well as when he first ran for an at-large council seat in May 2014. The restaurateur, who owns Jacksonville Restaurant on Grand Street, blamed his business’ financial woes that resulted in the default on the Great Recession.
Jackson thanked his supporters and promised to work together with other council members to better the city. “I’ll be a person who will endlessly and tirelessly work for our community. And that’s all I can commit to,” he said.
As Jackson took office, the man who represented the 1st Ward for the past year bid adieu to the council.
“You are truly a man of your word,” remarked Maritza Davila, councilwoman at-large and 1st Ward resident, as the council awarded Staton a framed citation. “And you kept your word.”
The pastor promised council members he would not run during the special election when the council appointed him to the seat on December 30th, 2014 after Davis was charged with taking bribe money from a purported developer.
Davis earlier in the year received a harsh rebuke from a federal judge and a two-year prison sentence for taking $10,000 in bribe money.
Staton said he also does not intend to run in next year’s municipal elections. Jackson intends to defend his seat in the May 2016 elections.
Jackson promised voters he will hand out his $41,000 council salary to local charitable causes. His term will end on June 30th, 2016, but Jackson will be picking up petitions next month to defend his seat in next year’s municipal elections.
“Those many wary nights when, sometimes we’d come out at one o’clock in the morning is no easy task,” said Staton who served for 11 months.
“It’s not often you find one that is not only good, but good and faithful,” said council president William McKoy. “My brother you’ve served as a perfect example of a faithful steward.”