PATERSON – The mountain sits darkly on the tops of the buildings in that part of the city, Pascrell country, and lately the setting for this year’s most intense ward contest: a battle among the hookah lounges, falafel huts, kabob houses and oddball pizza parlor.
A thousand people had voted as of earlier this afternoon in the 6th Ward. That’s minus the VBMs as rain threatened the all-day comings and goings of those staunch allies of both incumbent Councilman Andre Sayegh and his challenger Al Abdel-Aziz.
That was the sight in the streets when one looked at the white t-shirts of those enthusiastic disciples of Abdel-Aziz around the community center and library on the south side of Silk City, right across the street from the challenger’s headquarters. “The Palestinian community is motivated today because they sense an opportunity to put one of their own in City Hall,” a source told PolitickerNJ.
Once the rising star and now the veteran trying to hold onto his turf, Sayegh is half Lebanese and half Syrian. But those ethnic associations finally fade before the starker rivalry between Sayegh and Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
Torres wants Sayegh gone.
He blamed Sayegh for that 2010 debacle that resulted in Jeff Jones upsetting Torres. And although in his 2014 comeback he defeated the machine, such as at is in wild west Paterson, Torres now wants to put that final exclamation point on Sayegh’s political demise.
He dispatched his best operatives to Abdel-Aziz’s side in the last five weeks, and the contest tightened. Not only are the mechanics deployed, but dirty trick tactics – like roadwork making ingress and egress at School No. 24, a key Sayegh polling station – have the councilman and his allies working against not just the low-key Abdel-Aziz but a fully engaged mayor.
Abdel-Aziz bested Sayegh both on the fundraising and vote by mail fronts, and all day today he has shown a more energized street presence.
Three hours remained until the polls closed.