PATERSON, NJ – While the Paterson City Council acted earlier this week to fill the 2nd Ward Council seat on an interim basis the appointee, Gilman Chowdhury, has indicated he only intends to serve until a permanent replacement is elected in a November special election.
As of Thursday, five potential candidates have emerged since a judge declared a new election must be held after the May 12 election ended with a tie between the two top vote-getters, Shahin Khalique and Mohammed Akhtaruuzzaman.
Khalique and Akhtaruuzzaman, along with Frank Filippelli, another candidate who ran this past spring, have picked up petitions to run for the seat again, according to the city clerk’s office.
The potential slate also includes two newcomers: Eddie Gonzalez and Sonia Deliz.
Gonzalez, a Paterson native, believes it’s time to have some fresh faces on the city council, pointing out that for the past few elections it’s been “the same exact candidates going toe to toe.”
It’s also time for residents to examine the actions of their elected officials to determine if promises were kept – or broken, he said. “You have to ask yourself ‘Am I better off now four years later? Eight years later?’” Gonzalez said. “If you don’t give people an option, there’s no hope of moving the city forward.”
His work as the Director of Community Outreach at the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), Gonzalez said, has kept him in touch with the needs of city residents and connected him with key contacts that can help “further projects, initiatives and efforts” to benefit Paterson.
Representing the 2nd Ward, he added, would be “an opportunity to bring some hope to Paterson, with some experience and understanding.”
His background also includes a term on the Paterson School Board, serving as vice chairman of the Paterson Planning Board and as a member of the Paterson Education Fund. Gonzalez also ran for council before, back in 2016.
Seeking a council seat wasn’t necessarily on his radar this year, but several events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, allegations of voter fraud and President Donald Trump’s recent remarks singling out Paterson, motivated him to run.
“What happened in the Rose Garden is embarrassing on a local level and international level,” he said. “The president just put Paterson on the map in a bad way and I’m pretty sure he’ll do it again.”
“I’ve had it with corruption, misguided information, the alliances and the lack of relationship building in the city of Paterson,” he said. “Let’s acknowledge our differences but come together to find a middle ground.”
Deliz said the overall climate is what drove her to consider a run, too.
“For the last couple of years, there have been more personal attacks among the city council members, which is truly unhealthy for the community,” said Deliz, a lifelong Patersonian.
Deliz, who works as an analyst at a sales and marketing company, and owns a business in Paterson, has never sought office before.
“The 2nd Ward is one of the best wards in Paterson and it is deteriorating slowly,” she said. “Our community is in desperate need of true leaders. As a 2nd Ward councilwoman, I will present new ordinances and/or resolutions to support my city.”
She added, “I will be their voice by working on better police presence, taxes, speed bumps, school security, flood insurance, etc.”
Petitions are due back on Aug. 31 and the election is scheduled for Nov. 3, the clerk’s office said. The winner will serve out the remainder of the unexpired term, which is set to end on June 30, 2024.
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