Prominent developer Charles Florio slammed councilman Alex Mendez for accepting an endorsement from convicted mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
“Alex Mendez talks about fighting crime, cleaning streets, and most importantly lowering taxes. Yet celebrates and takes an endorsement from a mayor who stole from the tax payers? Not every endorsement is a good endorsement and Paterson voters are not stupid,” said Florio on Monday morning.
Torres, who was sentenced to prison for using public works employees to renovate a private warehouse, endorsed Mendez on Sunday night. He said Mendez is the best candidate to hire more police officer to reduce crime.
Murders reached a 30-year high under incumbent mayor Andre Sayegh.
Mendez dismissed Florio’s criticism.
“I don’t look at it that way. Mayor Torres made his mistake and paid for it. He still has a lot of Patersonians that respect and love him,” said Mendez. He said he spoke to hundreds of residents while on the campaign trail over the past weeks. Mendez said many voters told him, “We were better before. We’re living in the worst time in Paterson.” He said they were referring to the Torres years.
Mendez said he appreciated the former mayor’s endorsement. He said he does not know what Florio’s motivation is in the mayoral race.
Florio has openly backed Sayegh for mayor.
“I respect his opinion,” said Mendez speaking of Florio. “I feel very happy with mayor Torres’ support.”
Torres, a former three-term mayor, remains popular in Paterson. His endorsement is likely to be the most consequential in the mayoral race. His endorsement on Sunday has led to the Sayegh campaign scrambling to secure their own endorsements, according to sources.