The City Council has confirmed three of mayor Andre Sayegh’s cabinet picks.
Council members approved the appointment of law director Aymen Aboushi, finance director Javier Silva, and health and human services director Joel Ramirez.
Aboushi is Sayegh’s third law director, in an administration marked by excessively high turnover. Ramirez is his second health and human services director.
Silva was picked after former finance director Marge Cherone resigned.
“I think he’s done a great job. He’s been middle ground for many heated discussions and debates; and his professionalism is second to none. He’s been fair and consistent,” said councilman Al Abdelaziz speaking of Aboushi.
Aboushi has avoided the pitfall of always siding with the Sayegh administration, said council members.
“You’ve added a measure of balance to this administration and given at least some room for the council to be able to work with this administration in this very tough job,” said councilman Michael Jackson, who has criticized the mayor for the past nearly four years.
Sayegh appointed Aboushi as the city’s chief attorney nine months ago. Aboushi is the first Arab American to fill the position in Paterson’s long history.
Aboushi was confirmed in a 7-0 vote.
Silva did not get the entire council’s support for his confirmation.
Councilman Michael Jackson said Silva gave an enormous pay increase to an employee in the finance department. “Maybe the director does not have what it takes to get things done,” said Jackson.
Silva was confirmed in a 6-1 vote.
“It’s not about diversity, it’s about competency,” said Jackson, the sole vote against Silva’s confirmation. “My confidence is not there.”
Councilman Flavio Rivera initially butted heads with Silva, but voted in favor. “I never questioned your ability,” said Rivera. “You’ve come a long way and you have changed tremendously.”
Ramirez was picked by Sayegh five months ago. He has no experience in health or human services.
“He’s going to do a great job,” said Abdelaziz. Ramirez was his aide before Sayegh picked him to serve as human services director.
Jackson cited Ramirez’s dearth of experience, but stated that he is making the “adjustment very well.”
Ramirez was confirmed in a 7-0 vote. Jackson, Abdelaziz, Rivera, Maritza Davila, Luis Velez, Lilisa Mimms, and Ruby Cotton voted in favor.
Councilman Shahin Khalique was absent.
“Look at the three appointments we’ve had: a Palestinian, a Peruvian, and a Dominican. This is what we need to see in the city,” said Abdelaziz.
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