PATERSON, NJ- Despite a contentious start which caused recently appointed Corporation Counsel Khalifah L. Shabazz to intervene in a dispute about whether Councilman Shahin Khalique or Councilman Luis Velez spoke first, Sunday’s annual reorganization meeting of the Paterson City Council showed signs of increased civility and intentions to work in unity with the administration of Mayor Andre Sayegh.
Ultimately the council acted 5-3 in favor of Councilwoman-At-Large Maritza Davila to serve as the body’s president.
Davila, sworn in earlier to her second term earlier in the day, was the top vote getter among 14 candidates that each sought one of the three seats up for grabs in the May 8 election, and succeeds 4th Ward Councilwoman Ruby Cotton bested her for the job 12 months ago.
1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson was elected as the body’s vice president.
With Davila assuming the seat on the dais traditionally reserved for the council president, she presided over the remainder of the mostly ceremonial meeting which included addresses by Mayor Andre Sayegh, as well as Shabazz and Vaughan McKoy, the mayor’s pick for the position of business administrator.
Despite being challenged for the position, Davila thanked all of her colleagues, “including those that didn’t vote for me,” asking that they all “be respectful of one another,” while also requesting that “everyone in front of the dais,” meaning the public, “be respectful as well.”
Speaking to his earlier invitation to be “co-authors of Paterson’s success story,” Davila spoke directly to Sayegh saying that when it comes to supporting his Administration’s initiatives, “if it’s right for Paterson it’s going to be right for me.”
With official business left to be conducted, including several financial matters and the appointment of a member to the Board of Adjustment, Davila managed to keep the meeting, and her colleagues, mostly on track, showing a shared knowledge of both parliamentary procedure and political astuteness in allowing her colleagues to speak on various matters while insuring that conversation didn’t veer away from the matters under consideration.