PATERSON, NJ- Forewarned that their particular issues may not be solved in the short term, several dozen Paterson residents turned out to School 25 on Tuesday for the first of three public forums scheduled by Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh.
Additional forums are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, at JFK High School and Eastside High School. Both will start at 6:00 p.m.
Moderated by Vaughn McKoy, whom Sayegh appointed as Chair of his Transition Team, the event allowed attendees to approach the microphone one by one and raise a litany of concerns related to public safety, quality of life, recreation, and other issues.
Rikeisha Whitaker, a 37-year resident of the 1st Ward, lamented that there is “no accountability,” the lack of which makes issues like trash on the streets and panhandlers more prevalent.
These comments were closely followed by those of David Gilmore, who expressed his concern that people dump trash in Paterson “because they can.”
“It’s a cost of doing business, if they get caught,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore works as the city’s Director of Community Improvement but clarified he spoke in his capacity as a “resident and a taxpayer.”
While the team members sat largely silent they could be seen taking notes and nodding along as comments and concerns were brought to their attention.
It was a comment by one resident regarding what she considered the lack of notice about the event that elicited the first response from a team member with Della McCall-Fischer saying that “it’s up to all of us to share the information.”
“This is a call to action” Fisher said encouraging attendees call their friends and family to increase attendance at the next two sessions. “If we bring five people each, and they bring five people each,” Wednesday’s third and final forum will be full.
The members appointed to the expansive transition team which is divided into 11 groups, according to McKoy, will spend the next several weeks gathering data before they apply their expertise” and offer plans in mid-July.
The members have, McKoy said “unfettered discretion to make recommendations consistent with (Sayegh’s) vision.”
While her specific concerns weren’t addressed at the forum, Whitaker told TAPinto Paterson that the fact that it was being held showed that Sayegh “cares already.”
“I love Paterson, I’m excited about this,” Whitaker said.