I’ve known Mr Gus Penaranda for many years and have a good deal of respect for him. We were both part of David Soo’s initiative to save a vital part of the Great Falls, which resulted in it becoming America’s newest National Park. We also worked together to save the Barbour Estate. We both love Paterson.
I must take issue with his recent letter in which he criticizes Paterson mayor Andre Sayegh. Full disclosure (and I am sure it comes as no surprise to many), I am a supporter of Andre.
No leader is perfect and Andre would be the first to admit it. However, I believe he is doing an extraordinarily good job in these trying times. It should be remembered in the early days of this pandemic he issued stringent executive orders (making Paterson one of the first cities in NJ to take steps needed to combat COVID 19), only to be overruled by the Governor a week later.
To cope with what everyone expected would be overwhelming numbers of new infections and to take some of the strain away from St Joseph’s Hospital, he worked to have the long-closed Barnert Hospital set up additional beds. He worked with local firms to re-purpose their capabilities to manufacture badly needed PPE.
Testing has been an issue; by his own admission it’s been a bumpy ride but he’s worked hard to improve the city’s testing capabilities and he continues to press for more and more tests to be available.
His administration has been laser focused on protecting our seniors and as the national media reported, thanks to the efforts of himself and the brilliant and farsighted work of Paul Persaud in particular, this City leads the nation in contact tracing, which has helped Paterson to post significantly lower new cases of COVID 19 than comparably sized cities in New Jersey.
When Andre contracted the virus, he continued to lead the city whilst in quarantine, giving regular updates to the public. Now recovered, he regularly donates his plasma to help others to beat this insidious plague. His own family (including our remarkable and formidable First Lady) have also suffered and he has lost several close personal friends and mentors.
The struggle to flatten the curve is far from over. Andre and his administration are working extremely hard and won’t rest in their efforts to keep us safe. He knows that the fight would be lost without the valiant efforts of our first responders. He thanks them each and every day.
Gus Penaranda is right; how one handles a crisis of this magnitude is how leaders are made. This national catastrophe has forged a darn good leader in mayor Sayegh.