PATERSON, NJ- With the frequency of his declarations that everything he does is with the desire to improve the quality of life for 5th Ward residents in mind, one might think Councilman Luis Velez repeats the phrase in his sleep.
Often seen on Facebook Live walking his Ward’s blocks, monitoring snow removal, offering assistance at the scene of a fire, or otherwise being visible, there’s no mistaking what one person at Pan American Park on Wednesday called his “unrelenting commitment.”
With a small crowd gathered at a press conference he called just earlier in the day, Velez declared that from the perspective of the May 8 election, the best way to move the Fifth Ward, and all of Paterson forward, was by electing Sixth Ward Councilman Andre Sayegh as mayor and former Second Ward Councilman Aslon Goow to one of the three At-Large seats.
Velez previously endorsed Dr. Lilisa Mimms, whom he serves with on the Paterson Planning Board, for one of the three At-Large seats on the city council.
Speaking with a diverse crowd gathered behind him, Velez said using the flags from nations across the globe that adorn the park as a backdrop was not a coincidence, but rather represents the vision of “one Paterson” that he shares with Sayegh. “When our constituents call with an issue it doesn’t matter they are from, or what ward they live in, we are elected to serve them all,” he said.
“It is time to take Paterson out of the dirt,” Velez told those gathered, alluding to incidents such as the resignation and subsequent guilty plea of former Mayor Torres, and “dirty politics” that have Velez believes have been waged against him in the past.
Saying that both he and Velez are bridge builders and share a belief that Paterson needs “less division and more vision,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson that he was honored that his “conscientious colleague” endorsed him, and “more importantly our shared vision of One Paterson.”
Sayegh also accepted the endorsement of former Board of Education Commissioner Chrystal Cleaves who said she was on hand because she believes that of the six candidates seeking the office he is the one that can “get the job done,” and once elected will be “accountable to every resident of Paterson.”
Cleaves previously challenged Velez for the 5th Ward Council seat.
Referencing his twelve years of service as a member of the city council, Velez said he also looks forward to serving with Goow when the body reconvenes in July. Both men, Goow, told TAPinto Paterson, share the traits of being “hands on and connected” with the community, and both understand that a “sound council” made up of at least five members, the number needed to take action on most items, can accomplish “amazing things.”
Asked after the announcement about his decision not to endorse one of the three Latino candidates running for mayor, Velez lamented that one has a “residency issue,” one has a “deficiency in conducting business,” and one “hasn’t identified a clear agenda.” More importantly he said, none are talking about how to “move the city forward together.”
Velez is the fourth member of the council to make a formal endorsement with Council President Ruby Cotton previously endorsing Sayegh; council members Shahin Khaliqe and Maritza Davila, who is also on the ballot for reelection to her At-Large council seat, endorsing Councilman Alex Mendez' run for mayor; and Councilman Ken Morris, who is retiring from the council at the expiration of the term, being the first to give his endorsement when he announced his support for Councilman William "Bill" McKoy in January.
Election Day is Tuesday, May 8.
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