Bill Pascrell

Trying to run as a local version of Obama, Jones runs into Gilmore at Paterson forum

Trying to run as a local version of Obama, Jones runs into Gilmore at Paterson forum

PATERSON – On a prominently placed table in the mayor’s office stands a framed picture of President Barack Obama and Mayor Jeff Jones, snapped the day the president visited Paterson in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

While the picture shows the mayor in easy proximity to the nation’s chief executive, it also carries a painful reminder to some observers of what Jones detractors cite as his downfall, when he and others in his administration collected hefty overtime checks for work rendered during the 2011 storm.

But to Jones, the connection to Obama runs deeper, and the badge of honor, what others call failure, links him no less powerfully: namely the motivation by others to destroy him politically and his and Obama’s mutual unwillingness to surrender. To hear the mayor and his allies tell it, Obama had Mitch McConnell and the GOP assuring federal wreckage, and Jones had the Paterson City Council dooming the local administration.

As Obama’s approval rating skids into the low 30s and Jones tries to conjure a second four-year term with time ticking down until May 13th, another inevitable comparison arises when people consider his tenure: the academic temperament Obama and Jones share, which invariably leads to conclusions about lack of executive ability.

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Paterson Mayor's Race: Arab-American leaders, Currie and Pascrell III fundraise for Sayegh

Paterson Mayor's Race: Arab-American leaders, Currie and Pascrell III fundraise for Sayegh

CLIFTON – Getting on 2012 game faces for the May 13th 2014 mayor’s race, leaders of Paterson’s Arab-American community and the Democratic Party crowded into a banquet room in the Valley Regency last night and rammed the candidacy of Council President Andre Sayegh.  

Anchored by Arab-American leader Al Abdelaziz; Democratic State Party (and Passaic County Dems) Chairman John Currie; and Bill Pascrell III, son of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), who led an historic get-out-the-vote effort in his hometown in the 2012 Democratic Primary, the event raised Sayegh’s mayoral campaign $80,000.

“I’m all in on this race, and I’m ready to double down,” said Pascrell, who sat at the front of the room with Currie and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) days after the Arab-American Screening Committee organized by Abdelaziz awarded its endorsement to Sayegh.

“Some of the candidates were great,” beamed emcee Salaheddin Mustafa, reflecting on a seven-hour long candidates’ screening exercise.

“Some of the others – Joey – weren’t,” he cracked, a jibe at Sayegh’s competitor, former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, who had his own fundraiser earlier this week with former Mayor Pat Kramer.

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The Campaign Trail Return of Torres: former mayor looking for a Paterson comeback

The Campaign Trail Return of Torres: former mayor looking for a Paterson comeback
The discomfort between longtime political duelists Jones (left) and Torres on display in Council chambers yesterday was reminiscent of the 1977 New York mayoral campaign trail worn by rivals Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo.

PATERSON – Twelve stories above the city in downtown Paterson in a building that juts directly over City Hall, Jose “Joey” Torres sat at a conference table and brooded on the mayor’s contest.

“My beloved Paterson,” said the former mayor, staring out at the industrially-fragged surrounding North Jersey hills a short time after participating in a morning ballot drawing.

It’s an-eight person race for mayor this year and Torres had settled into a chair beside his nemesis, sitting Mayor Jeff Jones, as Clerk Jane Warren-Williams inserted capsules with names inside them into a wooden ballot box.

“I separate my personal life from policy,” said Torres, when asked about his proximity to the man who caught him flat-footed in 2010 and narrowly turned him out of office in one of the biggest upsets of the year: 43.17% (8,650) to 40.14% (8,042).

“That was a policy thing,” Torres said of the ballot drawing. “Jeff Jones and I have known each other for many years. We served together on the city council. I think there’s mutual respect.”

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Paterson Mayoral Back Story: Pascrell, Jones and the Black Ministers

Paterson Mayoral Back Story: Pascrell, Jones and the Black Ministers

PATERSON - Alert to the coming contest, the African American ministers tried to prevail on U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) to rethink his opposition to incumbent Mayor Jeff Jones.

As an argument to get the combative congressman to stand down, they might have invoked that always useful cornerstone of Christianity: forgiveness.

But they nursed a more worrisome question.

The ministers called the congressman, sat him down and told him they fear a pattern wherein he depends on their support, then does not vigorously back Black candidates.

Recently, he didn't select Cory Booker in the U.S. Senate Primary, for example. Before that he recruited Clifton cop Richard Berdnik to replace Jerry Speziale as sheriff.

Then there was his support for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008.

Pascrell was waving them off early.

He said it had nothing to do with race.

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Paterson Mayor's Contest: Jones fires back at his critics

Paterson Mayor's Contest: Jones fires back at his critics

Paterson bears down now on a Monday petition filing deadline for mayor next week and the fact that the city’s sitting chief executive hasn’t yet filed his paperwork has his rivals howling about his desire and the possibility that he won’t run again.

Mayor Jeff Jones dismissed the chatter, told PolitickerNJ that he will absolutely file by Monday’s deadline, and then took a few moments to go on offense.

“Absolutely,” said the mayor about his intentions to file for a second term run as he stares at a wide field of contenders, including former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, Council President Andre Sayegh, former Councilman Aslon Goow, Councilman Rigo Rodriguez and the Latino Leadership Alliance-backed Maria Teresa Feliciano.

On the campaign trail, Sayegh and Goow try to undermine each other while simultaneously packaging the Torres-Jones era as 12 years of failure.

Jones hears his rivals lumping him with his own old rival Torres and doesn’t dismiss it – with a twist.

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Sources: Wimberly branch-out has Dem sources again seeing statewide potential

Sources: Wimberly branch-out has Dem sources again seeing statewide potential

PATERSON – It was inevitable.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s endorsement of Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka would irritate people, particularly establishment Democrats and their vendor friends and political accessories.

Now engaged in a pushing and pulling match with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) over rightful ownership of the mantle “Most Likely to Succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie,” Fulop wants to coalesce northern Democratic Party leadership as the party’s best alternative to the South Jersey-based Sweeney.

Others want the same.

At a Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) fundraiser last night in Secaucus, Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Lou Stellato declared Hudson, Bergen and Passaic united.

Fulop was in the room.

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The Paterson Mayor's Race: community jockeying continues in wide field of candidates

The Paterson Mayor's Race: community jockeying continues in wide field of candidates
Goow campaigning for mayor last night in Toro's.

PATERSON – The mayoral candidates hit the streets last night, with political intrigue hanging over the city and just over two months to go before Election Day.

In the basement of Toro’s at the edge of the 6th Ward, former 2nd Ward Councilman Aslon Goow stood up in front of a crowd of mostly Arab Americans and said he’s the law and order candidate in a still-fluid 12-person contest in Paterson, where “the current administration is so bad,” according to the candidate, “anyone and everyone thinks they can be mayor.”

A 12-year veteran of the council when he lost his re-election bid in 2012, the Haledon special policeman said Paterson doesn’t have potholes.

“We have minefields,” he clarified, taking the microphone from event organizer Mahmoud Attallah.  “Gang shootings, open drug markets. The cold weather kept people inside for a while and the shootings went down. The first nice day we had where it was 50 degrees and two people were killed.

“What are we going to do, depend on the weather to fight crime?”

Claps sounded in the room.    

Then Attalah stepped up and surprised the room with an impolitic political question.

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'New Jersey is in the house'

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) exchanged words with President Barack Obama earlier this month just prior to the President's State of the Union speech.

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Paterson '14: Going, Going, Goow

Paterson '14: Going, Going, Goow

It once constituted a favorite Paterson parlor game: who would get shouted down first if then-Council President Aslon Goow ever went to Trenton as an assemblyman: Goow or the similarly voluble and volatile Gov. Chris Christie.

It was Lee Van Cleef-look-alike Goow, after all, who aggressively engaged in any number of exchanges with residents from his throne of power on the local governing body; who once sent a challenger scurrying from City Hall wishing he had never attempted to criticize the councilman in a public forum; who gave chase to a burglar behind the wheel of his own car; and who rose out of his seat in the audience during the 2010 Tea Party election and poured forth a stream of epithets at the debate moderator.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) later picked Goow out of a tent crowd and dropped into a fighter’s stance in recognition of the counciilman’s efforts.

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Poll shows statistical dead heat in Paterson Mayor's Race

Poll shows statistical dead heat in Paterson Mayor's Race

A poll by the Gallowglass Group of Wood-Ridge shows a head-to-head war between Council President Andre Sayegh and former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres for the office of Mayor of Paterson.

Incumbent Mayor Jeff Jones lags behind the two front-runners, but no one gets 50% in a May nonpartisan, highest-vote-getter-wins election that does not have a runoff, according to the poll of 400 likely registered voters in the City of Paterson from January 16 to January 23.

In the poll, Sayegh and Torres are tied at 33% with Jones receiving 15%.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 23, 2014

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

“The good news of tonight is that these problems are fixable.” - Gov. Chris Christie



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