PATERSON, NJ- With the candidacy of one of the six mayoral candidates still in question, Paterson municipal clerk Sonia Gordon presided over a drawing on Monday to determine the positions they will appear in on the May ballot. Gordon later conducted a second drawing for the 14 candidates seeking election to one of the three At-Large seats on the city council.
Based on the results of the drawing the candidates names will be presented to voters on ballots as follows:
Domingo “Alex” Mendez
William “Bill” McKoy
Douglas L. Maven
Aslon Goow, Sr.
Juan “Mitch” Santiago
Referring to ballot position as “one of those things you don’t control, but does matter in an election,” Matthew Krayton, Founder/Principal of Publitics, an Essex County based political consulting firm that has worked on several campaigns in Passaic County, told TAPinto Paterson that research indicates that being listed first on the ballot is a clear advantage, though how much of one “depends on the situation.”
Downplaying the potential advantage of being the first of 14 candidates for council listed on the ballot Zellie Thomas said that “the determination of the race is not about where you reside on the ballot, but where you reside in the hearts and minds of the community.” As he has done since launching his campaign, Thomas told TAPinto Paterson, he will continue to campaign and organize to “have a positive impact on Paterson.”
Krayton went on to explain that the where a candidate’s name appears on the ballot matters less in partisan election because voters are “more primed to vote along party lines” when they enter the voting booth then in non-partisan races, like Paterson’s where voters “don’t have a partisan reference point.”
While drawing number three among the council candidates was “exciting” for Dr. Lilisa Mimms, her campaign strategy won’t shift based what the ballot looks like. Saying that hers is a “grassroots” effort, Mimms plans on continuing to talk face-to-face with as many voters as possible just as she’s done throughout her years of public service to Paterson.
The candidates that will appear further down the ballot based on Monday’s draw, Krayton concluded, “will have to work a little harder to raise their profiles in the city so voters know to look for them."
Saying that voters are looking for the “best candidate with the experience and integrity to move Paterson forward,” Councilman Bill McKoy, whose name was drawn last among the sixth current mayoral candidates, dismissed the notion that where his name is on the ballot will have any effect on the race. “Ballot position will not be a factor,” he said.
Alex Cruz, whose residency, and therefore the legality of his candidacy, has been questioned by observers in past weeks drew the fourth position among the mayoral candidates. However, the Paterson police officer and president of PBA Local 1 may still face one more hurdle before having his name presented to voters. On Friday, resident Yanet Santana filed an objection with the municipal clerk’s office, the outcome of which has yet to be determined.
According to an election law attorney familiar with the matter, it is not uncommon for ballot drawings, such as Monday’s, to take place with some “uncertainty regarding the candidates.” The "real problem," he said, occurs once the ballot is printed. Under an estimated time frame provided by the attorney ballots should be printed the week of March 19.
Echoing similar statements to those made in the past, Pablo Fonseca, campaign manager for Alex Cruz, reiterated that “Alex meets all legal requirements to run to be mayor of the great city of Paterson.”
The election will be held on Tuesday, May 8.
Orville Morales contributed to this article.