PATERSON, NJ - While most of the political oxygen in Paterson is being used on the races for seats to Paterson’s City Council, a contest for a spot on the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders has emerged in the past days.

To date incumbent Freeholder T.J. Best has held back on making his decision whether he will seek reelection official. But that hasn’t stopped at least two hopefuls from clearly stating theirs- they want to be the Democratic Party’s choice when voters go to the polls first in June for the Primary election and then in the General election in November.

One of those potential candidates, Paterson City Councilwoman-at-Large Dr. Lilisa Mimms, believes that it’s not just her proven record as a vote getter, and list of accomplishments as an elected official, but also the unique perspective she’d bring to the county’s legislative body.

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“I understand the struggles of a working mother,” Mimms, herself a mother of four said. And while she praised Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara for her work Mimms added that “she needs company.”

“If we have a chance to fill the seat then my belief is another woman deserves a seat at the table,” Mimms said. Calling herself an advocate for parks, and a leader for continuing to expand educational opportunities, Mimms, a graduate of Passaic County Community College, and parent of two children that have attended Passaic County Technical Institute, said that her priorities align well with those of the current board.

“I believe I can be an asset,” Mimms concluded.

As the only woman mentioned among potential candidates, at least one party insider said he believes Mimms may have history on her side. “In 1920 women got the right to vote,” he said, asking that his name not be used as he didn’t want to dissuade other candidates at such an early stage. “One hundred years laters women are still, too often underrepresented. Mimms helps to change that.”

Paterson Planning Board Commissioner Wayne Witherspoon has also said that he intends to be in the contest for the seat telling TAPinto Paterson that “based on my extensive government and political experience I believe I am the ideal candidate.”

“I understand how government works,” Witherspoon, who has served as an aide to former Congressman Herb Klein, an active volunteer and leader in several local campaigns, campaign manager for former mayoral candidate Glen Brown, a member of the Passaic County Democratic Committee, and was appointed to Mayor Andre Sayegh’s Transition team, said.

Asked about efforts to elect more women Witherspoon said that he is proud that 2020 is the centennial of women’s suffrage, but that he believes that “voters should ultimately make the decision whether they want a man or woman in the seat.” 

Rodney DeVore, a legislative aide to Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, and Paterson native, and current Prospect Park Councilman, Robert Artis are also rumored candidates.