PATERSON, N.J. - Nearly a month removed from charges being first announced against Mayor Torres, Paterson activists and residents are still surprised at the failed vote of no confidence against Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres last week.
The week prior council president William McKoy continued calls for a no confidence vote on Torres, while residents who attended called for him to resign.
A vote of no confidence is a symbolic motion made by a legislative body where representatives vote as a means to express their dissatisfaction with a public official. This does not mean that the public official would be removed. The last time Paterson City Council held a vote of no confidence was in 2012 against Jeff Jones.
The Council mulled the decision for a few weeks since corruption charges against Torres were first announced for a vote of no confidence amid uncertainty if there would be enough votes to pass the motion.
Sixth Ward Councilman Andre Sayegh, who voted “Yes,” said that he was “disappointed by the council. “It’s been documented [that] overtime has been abused and unfortunately it has come at the expense of our summer camps and our pools, which we had to fight to keep open...and I hate it when children because of the wrongdoings of adults,” Sayegh stated, “it looked like the council had no confidence in the Council President because he was the one advocating strenuously for it.”
Fifth Ward Councilman Luis Velez defended his “no” said that, “He will have his time in court, that’s why I stated that if anybody wants an answer to the no confidence of him, it will be the judicial system.”
Believing in something similar, Second Ward Councilman Shahin Khalique said that Torres will have his day in court. “The mayor is under criminal indictment and a vote of no confidence changes nothing,” Khalique said about his vote. He added that, “as a governing body, we should not politicize this issue and we should concentrate on doing work for the residents and taxpayers.”
In previous weeks since the charges were announced mostly residents opposed to Torres staying in office voiced their opinions and came to meetings to speak out against the mayor. Tuesday the council chambers was partially filled with residents wearing "I believe in Torres" shirts and holding signs saying "I am Torres" in a show of support for the mayor.
Velez commented on Torres’s supporters who came to the meeting and said that he respected them and that, “there were different types of people speaking- people from the private sector, taxpayers, and normal residents. They’re entitled to support whoever they wish.”
Last week Torres surrendered to State Police in Totowa, a week after corruption charges were announced against him and three DPW supervisors. The charges stem from a warehouse in Paterson that was leased to Torres' daughter and nephew where DPW workers did renovations while on the clock for the city. Torres allegedly ordered and oversaw work at the warehouse in an attempt to help his family start a beer distribution company.
In response to the charges filed against him, Mayor Torres stated, "I am extremely disappointed and surprised that the Attorney General has elected to pursue this case and file these charges against me today. I have been aware of the investigation for some time, and I have never wavered from the fact that I am innocent.”