PATERSON, NJ- If one were to judge by the temperature in the Brownstone’s Grand Ballroom Monday night 6th Ward Councilman, and mayoral candidate, Andre Sayegh, was pulling out all the stops to get his supporters warmed up for the work that will go into the race between now and May 8.
It was however the words of support from several speakers, as well as audience members, that really harnessed the energy of the overflow crowd that braved the winter weather to attend the event that Master of Ceremonies Benny Cook said “had every ethnic group of Paterson represented.”
Diversity was a recurring theme throughout the evening with one attendee saying that it was Sayegh who has “the ability to pull people together, to truly build one Paterson.” Wayne Witherspoon, known for his political activism throughout the city, would go on to offer his belief that Sayegh’s skill at building bridges, and his longstanding relationships with law enforcement, would be critical to efforts to bring crime under control in a city where shootings too often make the headlines.
Pastor Ramon Pagan, speaking on behalf of Hispanics United for Sayegh, left no doubt in the crowd’s mind what he believes Sayegh’s chances are in the race that currently includes 11 other candidates, and was met with applause when he started his comments by stating directly to the candidate “you will be our next mayor.” The individual to hold the position when the city government reorganizes in July, Pagan said, must be “well qualified to lead Paterson to a better future,” and must focus on bringing investment, employment and public safety that benefit all residents.
The speaking program also brought the endorsements of two well known local political leaders, Tony Vancheri, 2nd Ward Leader, and Board of Education Commissioner Emmanuel Capers.
“It is time to move Paterson forward,” Capers said in offering his support to Sayegh’s bid. One only need look at the economic development happening in the Sixth Ward, according to Capers, to see what the candidate is capable of doing.
Calling Sayegh a leader that “lives and breathes Paterson,” Vancheri, would go on to suggest that Paterson is a reflection of the rest of the America, the only country, he said, where citizens of every other country have come to live. Saying that Sayegh is “always out there,” Vancheri offered his confidence that his pick for mayor was one that “will do the right thing for all of Paterson.”
Farhanna Balgahoom Sayegh, Andre’s wife, would take the microphone and speak of the couple’s 13 years together, including trips they’ve taken all across the country that her husband would turn into “fact finding missions” by seeking ways to meet elected officials in whatever city they were visiting. Even on their honeymoon, she joked, the candidate sought best practices to bring back to Paterson.
With his speech the only thing separating the guests from their final course, Sayegh kept his comments short, but left no doubt about what his priorities would be if voters elect him in what he reminded the crowd was just 119 days. “For too long Paterson has been pushed around and passed over,” Sayegh said. “Now Paterson is pushing back.”
Laying out several pieces of his platform Sayegh told the crowd that as Mayor he would replace every retiring police officer with three new ones, and that he would work with the Paterson Police Department to “beef up the Narcotics Unit” and create a metro division to “secure tourist destinations,” such as the area around the Great Falls and the Sixth Ward.
Sayegh also shared some of his own successes as a member of the City Council, including helping to spearhead the construction of a new playground at no cost to taxpayers, and leading an initiative which has led to the shut down of nine “notorious” nightclubs, one of them which now houses a new pre-school as evidence of his willingness to always “put constituents on top.”
“The time for talking is over,” Sayegh said in concluding his comments which also included a mention of the importance of getting an accurate count of Paterson residents in the 2020 Census in order to make sure that Paterson gets all of the funding it should be eligible for. “We are one Paterson, and we have work to do.”
Following the speeches one attendee, Richard Lathan, said that Sayegh is the type of person that “has never met a stranger.” Lathan, repeatedly using the words loves and cares in referring to Sayegh’s passion for the city, concluded that “Andre is the one person that can turn the tide for Paterson.”
Regana Bracey summed up the evening, and Sayegh’s candidacy, in just a few words saying that “we need Paterson involved in Paterson” and judging by the diversity in the room, and the fact that Sayegh has “never brought shame to the city” she has no doubt that he is the candidate best poised to lead.