Mayor Andre Sayegh is expected to pick school board president Oshin Castillo to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Sayegh administration officials interviewed Castillo for the job last year. She is expected to start working for the city on Jul. 1, according to multiple City Hall sources.
Neither Sayegh nor his chief of staff Kathleen Long responded to requests for comments.
“As of right now, no, I’ve not been interviewed,” said Castillo on Monday morning. “I don’t know why people have asked me this twice unless they know something that I don’t know.”
Castillo said she hasn’t been approached by anyone in the Sayegh administration.
“I’m actually going to call the mayor to see what’s going on,” said Castillo.
Some council members said there have been talks to hire Castillo.
“That’s the rumor we hear,” said councilman Flavio Rivera, chairman of the personnel committee, on Wednesday morning.
“I haven’t heard that,” said councilman William McKoy.
“I don’t have any details,” said councilwoman Lilisa Mimms. She has heard rumors of a possible appointment. “I’d have to see a resume. I don’t know her qualification.”
Sayegh’s appointment has to be confirmed by the City Council.
“She’s well qualified,” said councilman Luis Velez. He said she has been working in human services at the Passaic County government. Has been working “side by side” with the county human services director for the past six months, according to county officials. “She’s a Paterson resident.”
Castillo has previously worked as an assistant office manager at the Paterson Medical. Prior to that she worked as a business development representative at TD Bank. She was elected to the Board of Education in 2015. Castillo has been serving as the board’s president for two years.
It’s not clear for how long Castillo has been at the county human services office. She was hired as an aide to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2016. Her salary was $46,000 last year, according to Passaic County payroll records.
Health and human services director post carries a $92,000 salary. The post is currently held by health officer Paul Persaud. Persaud has been serving in dual capacity since Jul. 1. He receives a salary for the health officer title, but not for the health and human services director post, saving the city $92,000 in the current fiscal year.
Persaud declined to comment.
Velez said hiring Castillo brings more “diversity” to the Sayegh administration. Sayegh had vehemently criticized his predecessor, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, for failing to hire a high-ranking cabinet official from the Dominican community, largest Hispanic group in the city, during a debate in 2014.
Torres fumbled in the debate. He answered he had appointed ex-councilman Rigo Rodriguez as a deputy mayor. Sayegh struck back by pointing out deputy mayor is an unpaid and ceremonial post.
Sayegh’s timing of the hire could undermine his effort to get a long-term lease on Hinchliffe Stadium, which is owned by the Board of Education, for a development project. An employment offer from the Sayegh administration, formal or otherwise, could present an ethical quandary for Castillo.
School board members are expected to vote on the Hinchliffe Stadium lease this month. Some board members were on the fence about Sayegh’s plan for the stadium.
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