PATERSON, NJ- A diverse group of nearly 50 community leaders descended on a Paterson restaurant Friday to support the reelection of Board of Education President Oshin Castillo as well as the four other candidates who will appear on the November 6 ballot as the Paterson Children First Team.
Castillo, along with Board Vice President Nakima Redmon and Commissioner Manny Martinez, Jr. is seeking reelection to a three year term while Vincent Arrington, who replaced former Chris Irving when he resigned to serve as Superintendent of Teaneck Public Schools, and political newcomer Eddy Pichardo, a 13-year member of the Paterson Police Department, are seeking to fill the two one-year terms.
Running for the first time three years ago, Castillo said, she “spoke about who (she) was,” while this time around, she continued, she “is proud to talk about what I’ve accomplished with a great team.”
Pointing to equipping every student from seventh grade on with laptops, bringing art & music education back to Paterson’s schools, and reaching a balanced budget with no layoffs as some of the accomplishments she has helped spearhead, Castillo was quick to share credit with her colleagues on the Board saying “we have worked hard to put our children forward.”
Showing a unified front, each of the candidates would take turns speaking with Martinez turning to a sports analogy to bolster his team’s credentials. When it comes to the success of regaining local control of Paterson’s schools, Martinez said, countless previous commissioners helped “move the ball down the field.”
“We were fortunate to score the touchdown.”
“We can not turn the ball over now.” he continued before offering a rebuke for their opponents that he claimed have had “no interest and no involvement” in the Paterson Schools before launching their own candidacies.
Among the guests at the event was Mayor Andre Sayegh who said that he was attending to support the ticket not an elected official but as a father of three children, the oldest of whom started in kindergarten earlier this month. Sayegh would go on to credit Castillo for her “round the clock” efforts to reach a contract agreement with the city’s teachers.
Moving from their records to what it will take for the team to be successful at the ballot box, Sayegh offered his hope that the “one Paterson movement” that he credits for his own electoral success will transfer to November.
"Our students don't all look the same," Sayegh said sounding a familiar theme. "But they all deserve the opportunity to achieve academically."
5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez was also on hand Friday to offer his own strategic advice warning that “we can not call this team winners without fighting to win this election” before reiterating Martinez’ call to action to those gathered to go out and talk to their friends and neighbors, and to get them to the polls.
Expressing his own hope that voters will select the candidates that are most qualified for the positions they are seeking to fill, and not cast ballots based simply on ethnicity, was Intashan Chowdhury who offered his belief that with the transition to local control currently underway now is a "sensitive time for Paterson Schools."
"This is no time for tribal politics," he warned.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. Voters will have the opportunity to vote for up to three candidates for three year terms and two candidates for one-year terms. A total of 18 candidates will appear on the ballot.