Campaign Notebook: Candidates’ Signs Taking a Beating

PATERSON, NJ – What goes up, must come down. It’s a law of physics that applies everywhere on planet Earth.

It’s also somewhat of political tradition that applies to campaign signs in Paterson, where folks play hardball during election season. Political veterans say it happens every year. One group of campaign workers puts up campaign signs backing their candidate; then someone else takes the signs down.

“It seems like it’s happening a little more this year,’’ said City Clerk Jane Williams-Warren, adding that she’s received complaints from various candidates asking her to intervene. “I have no power to do anything about it,’’ she added.

Sign Up for E-News

But Williams-Warren is sending all 21 candidates in the May 8 City Council races a letter asking them to tell their supporters not to vandalize the opposition’s signs. She said the letter also reminds the candidates about the ground rules that apply on Election Day, such as no campaigning inside polling sites, even if the polls happen to be set up within housing complexes.

One candidate, Luis Velez, has done more than simply call the city clerk to complain. On Wednesday, he said he went to police headquarters to file charges against a supporter of 5th Ward incumbent Councilman Julio Tavarez, accusing the man of taking a campaign sign from a barbershop window on Park Avenue.

“I’m tired of seeing my signs destroyed,’’ said Velez.

But Tavarez says he feels the same way. A few weeks ago, the councilman said he confronted a man who was using a box cutter to tear apart one of his signs. “It’s not like I filed a police report or anything like that,’’ Tavarez said.

In the 4th Ward, candidate Wilkin Santana says his signs also have been vandalized and he’s blaming supporters of Ruby Cotton. But Cotton says her signs have been torn down by vandals. She said she has suggested to supporters that they hang the signs close to their homes where they would be less accessible to vandals.

“I don’t think it’s the candidates themselves involved in this,’’ said Williams-Warren. “But some of their supporters get carried away.’’

Candidates are not allowed to post signs on public property, such as in city parks or on utility poles. Williams-Warren said she has received complaints about some candidates using vacant or abandoned buildings to hang signs. In those cases, she said, candidates are supposed to get permission from the properties’ owners.

Santana says the loss of his signs is particularly problematic because he already lost his makeshift campaign headquarters  - the offices of a River Street taxi company - when a city inspector told the owner that the building’s certificate of occupancy did not allow for the political operation there. Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes, the 4th Ward incumbent who is not seeking re-election and is backing Cotton, has said the city inspector went to check on the cab company because the owner also was buying gold at the business.  During that visit, the inspector stumbled upon Santana’s campaign headquarters and also banned that from the taxi business, Ames-Garnes said.

But Santana says the councilwoman’s explanation does not ring true. “They kicked me out, but they still have a sign up saying they’re selling gold,’’ he said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness


Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Paterson Board of Education , Paterson

Teacher Job Fair



Thu, July 19, 6:00 PM

Vreeland Ave. Park, Paterson

Occupy Vreeland Ave. Park

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Readers Says Let Developer Bring Paterson Back

July 13, 2018

Dear Editor: 

It is no secret that Paterson is in dire need of revitalizing, restructuring, rebuilding, and, quite frankly, rebranding. As a city, we have struggled to pay our municipal debt, to reduce crime substantially, to create sustainable employment opportunities for our youth and to provide assistance for our city’s most vulnerable residents. 

Today, we face an uphill ...

Pascrell, Renacci, Senators Celebrate House Approval of Congressional Gold Medal to Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby

July 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) hailed the passage in the House of Representatives of H.R. 1861, the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act. The legislation awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the late baseball star, Larry Doby, who broke the American League’s color barrier in 1947.

“A proud ...


PATERSON, NJ – Mayor Andre Sayegh today appointed Mike Powell as the city’s economic development director for the new city administration.

“Just as Alexander Hamilton looked to the Great Falls and saw the future of our nation, we look to the Great Falls and all of Paterson’s resources and see the prosperous future of our great city,” said Sayegh.

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Big Plans for Small Park in Newark’s North Ward

NEWARK, NJ- An under-utilized pocket park on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s North Ward has become a symbol of what can be accomplished in neighborhoods throughout the city through effective public-private partnerships. 

The park’s supporters have big plans for the public space, located directly across the street from the busy North Ward Center, located in an historic ...

I'm Sorry Mr. Jackson... I Am For Real

July 8, 2018

Hello again, Paterson. 

So much has changed since the last time I’ve written… as I’d hoped, Andre Sayegh is our new mayor and it seems an exciting new dawn is upon us. I think when any change comes, especially one as major as this, there is an opportunity for reflection as well as for hope. This election taught me quite a bit, seeing some of the best and worst sides of ...