Earlier this week, at the City Council meeting, Councilman Mike Jackson again used his platform to try to disparage me personally. I did smile, and will continue to smile, in the face of these comments. But since I was not afforded the opportunity to respond to his comments in real time, I want to make a couple points in this letter.

Councilman Jackson doesn’t know me very well personally, but I know that he is aware that I was born and raised in Paterson. But he may not know that I’m the child of two Catholic school teachers who still live in Paterson, and that we lived a very simple life all through my childhood.

The Councilman may not know that my mom was also the director of a day care center in a church basement across from Passaic County Community College, where she cared for the children of many young moms attending class across the street. The hours I spent volunteering there during middle school awakened in me a deep love for the diversity of this city as well as a fierce appreciation for the hard-working residents struggling to build a better life for themselves in Paterson.

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If Councilman Jackson knew me better we could talk about how in high school I decided to pursue a career in government/public policy, in part because I was raised watching Paterson City Council meetings and knew the impact local leaders can have on their communities. I could share that I graduated cum laude in American Government from Georgetown University, joined AmeriCorps as a full time volunteer for two years as an urban teacher on the west side of Chicago, and then earned a Masters in Government from University College
Cork in Ireland through the prestigious Mitchell Scholarship. I pursued this education and these experiences all in the desire that I would one day return to Paterson to make a difference.

Councilman Jackson probably doesn’t know that after D.C., Chicago, Ireland, and another stint in D.C., I returned to Paterson 11 years ago to do just that, buying a home in the 2nd Ward with my now husband where we are raising our two small children. Since that time I have worked with numerous organizations in Paterson, from volunteering to paid positions, including five years at the non-profit Oasis before I joined city government. I rose to Chief Development and Marketing Officer, working hard every day for the benefit of the over 700
Paterson women and children who enrolled in our GED, ESL, Computer, or Workplace Readiness classes or after-school program to break the cycle of poverty and improve their lives.

Grounded in public policy due to my passion and education, the Mayor has asked me in a special way to work with Council members in one-on-one conversations outside of Council meetings, talking through the many complex policy issues facing the city and answering any questions Council members may have, all for the benefit of Paterson residents. Councilman Jackson has never taken me up on this repeated offer, but I hope he does in the future.

Because maybe then he’ll get to know me, and we can talk about all that I believe we have accomplished for the City this past year.

And maybe then, as he sits on the Council dais, I will smile at him and he will smile back because we are both Patersonians.

Kathleen Long
Chief of Staff
City of Paterson