PATERSON, NJ- Tonight the residents had their say as to who should occupy Paterson’s mayor’s office for the next eight months, but it was members of the City Council that ultimately made the decision.
Offering a plot twist that even Hollywood movie makers couldn't conjure up former Paterson City Clerk Jane Williams-Warren was elected by a 5-4 vote to serve as acting mayor from October 10 until the end of former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ term on May 30.
Retired in 2014, Williams-Warren served as Paterson’s municipal clerk for 24 years.
Prior to the meeting even starting many in attendance were more than happy to let their opinions be known about who they believed would best serve Paterson in the role.
Referring to Council President Cotton as "a friend to me and a friend to my mom," eight-year-old Nia Elder was flanked by her mother and her grandmother, both of whom also shared their support for Cotton.
Believing the prescription to cure Paterson's ills is someone at the helm with a "temperament and a track record" Rahsona Elder, a youth advocate and lifelong resident, said that Paterson must move past the events of recent days and allow Cotton to continue to serve as acting mayor, and as a "healer".
The crowd launched to their feet and held a sustained applause punctuated by shouts of "Ruby" as the council took their seats. This energy, at times resembling that of a prayer revival, continued for most of the first hour as speaker after speaker stood at the podium, all but one in support of Cotton remaining in the position.
A mostly quiet council became animated following a motion by Councilman Andre Sayegh to adjourn the meeting because of what he called "a clear message from the community assembled today that Ruby Cotton is their choice for this position.”
Sayegh later withdrew the motion following debate with other members of the council including Councilman William McKoy who insisted the council "'must consider this important matter in its entirety."
Allowing for the rest of those who wanted to be heard, more than 25 in all, to speak, the vast majority of in support of Cotton, the council voted to enter executive session at approximately 9:30 p.m. As the council debated behind closed doors, members of the public remained, anxious to hear the final outcome.
The remaining crowd quickly filed back into council chambers nearly 75 minutes later as members took their seats to resume the agenda. Following some debate regarding appropriate procedure, a motion by Councilman Kenneth Morris was made to amend the resolution being considered to include the name of Williams-Warren, with her assuming the office on October 10. The motion was seconded by Councilman Domingo Mendez.
With her fate sealed Cotton cast the final vote in dissent while at the same time expressing her utmost respect for 'my Jane.” Offering gratitude to her supporters in attendance at tonight’s meeting Cotton called the meeting to a close reassuring all that she was “going to be okay.”