May 28, 2013 at 4:49 PM
PATERSON, NJ - One week ago, Council President Anthony Davis endorsed Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for another term when the governor visited Paterson's D’Classico’s Restaurant. The endorsement made waves on both sides of the political pool with some democrats calling Davis “delusional.”
Davis gave an exclusive interview to The Alternative Press explaining why he decided to make the surprising endorsement.
Reporter: How did you come to the decision to back Chris Christie for governor?
Davis: I came to conclusion of supporting the governor [because] the question was asked, who did I represent? I thought about that over and over and over. I was not there [at D’Classico’s] representing Democrats, Republicans, or independents. I was representing Paterson. We had no relationship in the governor’s office. What I wanted to do was make Paterson relevant. That was my conclusion.
Reporter: You’ve gotten a lot of flack for that endorsement. Were you expecting it?
Davis: Yes I was. At the end of the day, I had to make a decision. I know Republicans are happy and Democrats are sad, and again, it’s not about either, it’s about a relationship with this governor here. It wasn’t to benefit Anthony Davis. It was to benefit Paterson. I knew I would get slack.
Reporter: There is a comment on Facebook suggesting that you endorsed Christie as a means to secure a future political career. The comment says because you almost lost your seat last year, you’re afraid of what the future holds for you. What do you have to say about that?
Davis: Wow, I have no comment on that other than the fact that yes, it is true I won my seat by 49 votes. I’m not thinking about the next race. Any politician who is thinking about their next race instead of working out what’s right for the people means they lost touch with the reason why their reason they are there. We are supposed to be serving the people and that’s why did it. Paterson needs to be relevant. This governor will have a relationship with Paterson.
Reporter: What kind of relationship will his administration have with Paterson?
Davis: You know let me say this, I don’t know Brittney in terms of what kind of relationship but I know if I call down there I will get a returned phone call. If there is something Paterson needs and he doesn’t know about it I will make sure he knows about it. We are so far to the D’s [Democratic party] or so far to the R’s [Republican party] we forget about serving the people. It is the true continuants that are hurting because people are too afraid.
Reporter: Passaic Country Democratic Committee chair John Currie said you are delusional and called you an opportunist. Do consider yourself an opportunist?
Davis: First of all, I’ve never been an opportunist. And I’m not delusional. It’s sad that he thinks I’m delusional, and if I’m delusional, I’m delusional for Paterson.
Reporter: Would you consider endorsing Christie a defining moment in your political career?
Davis: You’re probably going to hear this over and over, but for one time, I was not thinking about my political career; I was really thinking about making Paterson better.
Reporter: Not only are you council president, but you’re also the councilman for the First Ward, which is one of the most impoverished in the city. What do you think the Christie administration can do for Paterson, specifically the First Ward?
Davis: Well, to help the First Ward will help Paterson, period. One of the reasons when he visited, it was held at D’Classico’s [was because] it is in the First Ward. When he comes in the summer he will visit the First Ward. He will look at all the impoverished area, which will include the First Ward.
Reporter: What will you be bringing to his attention?
Davis: It already has been done as far as our Recreation Department budget, which is $1.2 million. It was cut to $600,000. I stopped that already, so now you will have that budget intact. That means we will have 200 plus young people working this summer. That’s already [been brought to] his attention.
In two weeks I’m meeting with State Commissioner Cerf. The president of [the Board of] Education will be coming with me. What I’ve done is open doors and say hey, this is what’s happening.
Reporter: Many Patersonians believe they have been ignored under the Christie administration. They disagree with budget cuts for public schools and are angry about the unemployment rate. As an elected representative of these people, how do you justify your decision to endorse Christie?
Davis: Had I not done that, that recreation budget would have been cut. That means now, 200-plus youth would not have a job this summer. This is about building relationships. That’s all it’s about.
Reporter: I’d like to shift the focus to your political career. Are you ready?
Davis: Yes, I’m ready.
Reporter: Some have said that your political career has plateaued. Can you speak to that?
Davis: I am councilman until 2016. When 2016 gets here and my record does not speak for itself and the people wish not to elect me again, so be it. I will still be involved in the city of Paterson as long as I live here and I will work to make sure Paterson is relevant and get the services that’s much needed.
Reporter: Do you see yourself going further in your political career?
Davis: You know, as a young child there was a desire to run for a higher office such as mayor but that’s not the case. I will be running for councilman again, if that’s where I will be that’s where I will be. I am not looking at any higher-ranking position.
Davis: Once you’re in a higher office you become under a machine, you have to cooperate under a machine. You may be an independent thinker, but you can’t go but so far, the [political] machine will not allow you to go but so far.
Reporter: Do you believe that is a big problem in Paterson?
Davis: That’s an extreme problem in Paterson. We are so are so close to the d’s we are not looking at the r’s and what they have to offer. Wee have to look at a medium. What’s good for Paterson from the d’s, what’s good for Paterson from the r’s and throw out the rest. It’s garbage.
Reporter: What do you have to say to Patersonians about your decision to endorse Christie?
Davis: Paterson, I am not fighting against Democrats and I am not fighting with the Republicans. I am fighting for Paterson. I did not do this for political gain. I did not do this to get a job, I only did this for the city that I represent and that city is called Paterson.