Mayor Andre Sayegh has picked former school board member Joel Ramirez to serve as health and human services director.
Ramirez began working on Monday. Sayegh has previously announced cabinet changes well in advance of start date. He did not publicly announce the hiring of Ramirez.
Sayegh did not respond to a Paterson Times request for comment on Monday.
“I’m truly honored the mayor has given me the opportunity,” said Ramirez on Tuesday morning. His new title has a $92,000 salary, according to city code.
Ramirez said his focus will be on tackling homelessness and opioid addiction in Paterson.
Ramirez has little or no experience in health or human services, according to publicly available information.
Sayegh did not provide a copy of Ramirez’s qualifications or resume.
“I’ve served on numerous nonprofits that have benefited from the human service grants. I’m pretty familiar with most, if not all, of the grants,” said Ramirez when asked about his dearth of experience in health and human services. “This is a management position. This is a position where you’re really providing oversight and leadership and seeing where we can streamline processes and better the services the department is offering.”
Sayegh’s previously health and human services director was school board member Oshin Castillo. She had just one year of experience shadowing the Passaic County human services director. Her lack of experience showed when she began giving highly questionable advice to residents on Covid-19 prevention last year. Castillo resigned in May for a higher paying Passaic County Board of Social Services job.
“I do have the skill set to learn and to be an asset not only to the mayor and cabinet, but also to the department,” said Ramirez.
Sayegh has less than a year remaining in his term.
Ramirez still has to be confirmed by the City Council.