Mayor Andre Sayegh has built up a $125,000 campaign war chest a year ahead of the city’s mayoral election.
Sayegh has $124,721 in his campaign account, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), putting him far ahead of other potential rivals in next year’s mayoral race.
“I have to amass money to run a real campaign,” said Sayegh last Friday. He had just $6,200 in his campaign account after winning a landslide victory in 2018.
Sayegh said he aims to raise $500,000 for next year’s campaign. He likely would have amassed even more campaign cash had there been no pandemic.
“It’s been difficult because we can’t meet in-person, but now that we can we’ll be scheduling more fundraisers,” said Sayegh.
Some political observers suggested Sayegh may be preparing for a tough re-election campaign in May 2022.
“He knows he will have a tough time. People thought Jeff Jones was a bad mayor. Now, people are realizing Jeff Jones wasn’t that bad,” said councilman Alex Mendez, who finished second place behind Sayegh three years ago. “He’s doing a horrible job. Crime is worse than ever. The city is filthy. The services are horrible. People are not happy at all. All I need to win that election is the love and support of the people of Paterson.”
Mendez said Sayegh is collecting money from out-of-town “special interest” groups.
“He’s going to break the record for collecting money, and he’s going to lose,” said Mendez.
Sayegh brushed aside suggestions he might be amassing funds because he knows he’ll have a tough time getting re-elected to a second term.
“People believe in me, and they want to see me continue to serve as mayor,” said Sayegh.
Mendez had -$3,800 in his campaign account, according to a December 2020 campaign finance report.
“If you see my history, I never pay attention to funding and fundraising. And I’ve been winning campaigns left and right. I beat [William] McKoy twice with limited resources,” said Mendez.
Mendez and councilman Michael Jackson are the only two candidates to have made public their intentions to run for mayor next year. Both men face strong headwinds to their ambitions because of the criminal charges against them over election fraud tied to last year’s May elections.
Other likely candidates include community improvement director David Gilmore and councilwoman Lilisa Mimms.
“Right now, my focus is on doing my job as councilwoman,” said Mimms on Friday.
Mimms had just $3,700 in her campaign account last month.
“Remember when Jeffery Jones won?” remarked Omar Ledesma, who worked on Mendez’s past campaigns.
Jones spent $71,300 to beat then-incumbent mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in 2010. Torres spent more than $1 million in that race to hold onto the mayor’s seat.
Three years ago, Sayegh won the mayor’s seat after spending $366,000.
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