This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. to reflect that additional candidates picked up nominating petitions.

PATERSON, NJ - Another campaign season started Monday as 5th Ward Councilman Luis A. Velez became the first presumed candidate to pick up petitions from the City Clerk’s office.

All six ward council seats are up for election with voters going to the polls on Tuesday, May 12.

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Velez, who was at the door as soon as it opened at 8:30 a.m. told TAPinto Paterson he wanted to be the first because that where he “always puts the Fifth Ward.”

"I’m running like it’s my first time,” Velez said. “We have seen good results in the Fifth Ward and we will keep working,” he continued, adding his passion was for service.

Asked if he had a message for any challengers he said that “the needs of the Fifth Ward are 24-7, they don’t just come up around Election Day.

Notably present with Velez were both Mayor Andre Sayegh and City Council President Maritza Davila.

“As council president I want to make sure he comes back,” Davila said of her colleague. “He works for the community and he works for cohesiveness.”

A resident of the Fifth Ward, Davila added that “he’s an action guy. That’s who I want representing me.”

Minutes after Velez left with his petitions First Ward Councilman Mike Jackson showed up, phone to ear, to officially launch his effort.

Fresh off a call trying to help an elderly constituent fight eviction, Jackson said that he has consistently “fought against what he doesn’t believe is right, and offered consistent decision-making and progress.”

Jackson said that he hopes anyone who puts their name on the ballot does so with the “best intentions for the ward.”

Next in line was Brenda McKoy who said she was proud to be picking up petitions for her husband, 3rd Ward Councilman Bill McKoy, the longest serving member of the body.

Sixth Ward Councilman Al Abdelaziz, Paterson's newest legislator, picked up his petitions immediately following the swearing-in ceremony of 14 new officers to the Paterson Police Department. Also flanked by Sayegh and Davila, Abdelaziz said that "the Sixth Ward is the jewel of Paterson, and we are going to make it even better."

"At the same time, we are going to make sure that all of Paterson realizes its full potential."

Saying that she prides herself on being accessible to her constituents, Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ruby Cotton offered a litany of accomplishments she said she is proud of, including helping to advance hotspot legislation, reducing the number of abandoned homes in the community, and launching block associations to bring neighbors together. Going forward, Cotton added, she is going to continue to focus on her crime prevention through environmental design initiative and grow a tenant's rights coalition. 

Candidates have until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, March 9 to submit their petitions. “If it’s 4:01 I’m going to tell you to turn around,” Clerk Sonia Gordon told Velez, a line she will likely repeat more than a dozen times as additional candidates enter the races in their respective wards.

The number of signatures required varies by ward and is based on population. The most valid signatures, 150, are required in the First Ward while Fifth Ward candidates only need to submit 118 valid signatures. 

 

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