Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms, who vigorously opposed a plan to hire City Council aides last year, is moving to hire three aides.
“I don’t want an aide,” said Mimms in September 2019. “It is not something we need.”
Mimms changed her tune in July.
“Times change, situations change. We’re now in a pandemic situation,” said Mimms when asked about the shift in her position. “There are some people that are looking for employment opportunities. So, this is the way to provide opportunities, not just of employment but ways for people to learn to grow and understand government.”
Mimms said the nearly 30 percent local unemployment rate also pushed her to change her position.
Each member of the City Council has been allocated $25,000 to hire an aide. Mimms is dividing her $25,000 among three people. She will hire one aide at $12,500 and two others at $6,250 each, she said.
When asked about such small amounts for each aide, Mimms said, “When it comes to city government and working, sometimes people are not always doing it for the money. Some people just love their city and it’s a way to give back.”
Several council members have hired one aide each for the full $25,000.
Mimms said she will hire a fourth person, a paid intern, for $6,250. She said she will fund the fourth hire from her own pocket.
Mimms told mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration she wanted to hire the aides in early July. She was evasive when a reporter asked about it later in the month.
Councilwoman Ruby Cotton, who opposed hiring aides last year, is also hiring aides. She acknowledged last month she had told the administration she would hire aides. She plans to hire multiple aides using $25,000.
Newly appointed councilman Gilman Choudhury is hiring multiple aides for $25,000.
Councilman Luis Velez, who opposed the plan to hire aides last year, has remained consistent. He said he has no plans to hire aides this year or in the next three years.
Mimms faced criticism from some of her colleagues last week for changing her position on aides.
“Councilwoman Mimms was in heavy opposition,” said councilman Michael Jackson last week. He did not oppose hiring aides for council members, but at the time said he did not need an aide.
Jackson later changed his position and opted to hire an aide.
“It’s a free country. People say whatever they feel like,” said Mimms when asked about criticism she is facing over changing her position on aides.
Mimms said all three hires will be Paterson residents as required by ordinance. She hopes to hire the aides by September.
The city began advertising the nine aide positions in early August on its website. Deadline to apply is August 18.
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