Former Candidate Seeks Appointment to Soon to Be Vacated Council Seat

Juan "Mitch" Santiago sent a letter to the mayor and current council expressing his interest in the 6th Ward Council seat that will be vacant when Mayor-Elect Sayegh is sworn in to office. Credits: Steve Lenox

PATERSON, NJ- Less than a week after votes were counted declaring Andre Sayegh the victor in an, at times, contentious election, at least one person is making his interest known in the 6th Ward Council seat that will become vacant with Sayegh’s ascension to Paterson’s highest office on July 1.

In a letter to Mayor Jane Williams-Warren and the current members of the Paterson City Council, Juan “Mitch” Santiago wrote of his “Highly Interest” (sic) in serving as the 6th Ward Councilman. Reminiscent of the stump speech Santiago gave on the campaign trail during his recent run for one of three At-Large seats on the city council, the former candidate cited his 33 years of service with the Department of Public Works, 10 years as a Sheriff’s Officer, and three terms as a Commissioner on the Paterson Board of Education as his qualifications for the seat.

“My goal is to move this City forward and continue fighting for the citizens of this great City,” Santiago continued.

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Santiago ran in the May 8 election on a slate that included Pedro Rodriguez running for mayor and Mohammed Akhtarruzzaman also seeking one of the At-Large seat on the city council, finishing 6th in a crowded 14 candidate field with 3,212 votes. 401 of these votes came from polls in the 6th Ward.

According to a memo written by Ben-David Seligman, Paterson’s 2nd Assistant Corporation Counsel, and obtained by TAPinto Paterson, the city council is under no obligation to fill the seat once it is vacated but “has the option to do so.”

If they do choose to fill it, a majority of the members of the Council at the time the vacancy occurs would have to approve a resolution appointing a temporary replacement “within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.” The memo goes on to speculate that “assuming the vacancy occurs no earlier than the Mayor’s inauguration date of Sunday, July 1, 2018, the last day the Council would be able to appoint a replacement is Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

Also widely speculated to have a desire to fill the seat is local activist Al Abdelaziz who faced off with Sayegh and received 1,172 votes in the 2016 ward race before endorsing his former opponent’s bid for mayor in the 2018 contest. Reached by TAPinto Paterson on Tuesday Abdel-Aziz confirmed that he is interested in “continuing to work to improve the quality of life and progress that the 6th Ward has seen” but stopped short of throwing his name in the mix officially saying that he would be “talking to (his) family, supporters, and 6th Ward residents before making any decision.”

If a replacement is appointed he or she would face an election to fill the remainder of the expired term on November 6, 2018, with the term expiring on June 30, 2020.


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