Former council members Shahin Khalique and Alex Mendez won seats on the City Council in the do-over November elections.
Khalique defeated his archrival former councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman by 98 votes in the 2nd Ward race while Mendez bested former longtime councilman William McKoy by 9 votes in the 3rd Ward election.
“I’ve gone through a lot in this race – a lot of negativity. God is great. We’ve won this election,” said a jubilant Mendez late Thursday night. As weeks went by after the November 3 election, Mendez had some doubts in his mind about the vote count. He did not have access to the latest tallies as some Democratic Party linked politicians and operatives seemed to. He felt he was kept in the dark. “We only have the people behind us.”
Mendez received 3,752 votes and McKoy received 3,743. Chauncey Brown received 232, Robyn Spencer received 479, and Sharrieff Bugg received 756 votes, according to unofficial election results.
Mendez said the people let him win two elections in one year. “You know how hard it is to win two elections in a year?” he remarked. “All I want to do is work.”
McKoy is likely to file an application for a recount given the razor-thin margin.
McKoy was unaware of the results that favored Mendez on Friday morning. He did not respond on Friday afternoon.
Mendez had won in May. McKoy, a 20-year veteran of the council, sued. McKoy secured a court order that barred Mendez from taking office because of voter fraud in the May election. Mendez was charged with election and voter fraud in the May race, but he has denied the allegations. The judge later nullified the results of the 3rd Ward election and ordered a do-over with the same five candidates.
Meanwhile, Khalique and Akhtaruzzaman were tied in the 2nd Ward in May after several recounts in May, resulting in a do-over. Khalique’s brother and a campaign worker were charged with voter fraud. Both his campaign worker and brother have denied the allegations.
Khalique received 2,757 votes and Akhtaruzzaman received 2,659. Sonia Deliz received 1,100, Frank Filippelli received 942, and Eddie Gonzalez received 1,580 votes.
Akhtaruzzaman’s campaign appeared to accept defeat on Thursday night. Neither Khalique nor Akhtaruzzaman could be reached for comments on Friday morning.
Akhtaruzzaman’s campaign has accused Khalique and his campaign of engaging in voter fraud in the November race.
Sources said Khalique has tested positive for Covid-19. He had large gatherings inside his campaign office during the November race. Multiple people linked to his campaign also tested positive for Covid-19, according to sources.
Khalique did not publicly disclose the positive test. He did not respond to a Paterson Times query on Tuesday asking why he had not publicly disclosed the Covid-19 diagnosis.
Both Mendez and Khalique can be sworn in soon after the results are certified. Results have to be certified by today. Certification for Ocean and Salem counties have been extended to November 25 by the governor.
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