During last week’s municipal election, Paterson Mayor Joey Torres suffered a strong blow. Despite Torres’ support for the ward 6 challenger, councilman Andre Sayegh, a known Torres rival, was able to keep his spot on the Paterson city council.
Last Tuesday, Sayegh was able to defeat challenger Al Abdelaziz after a tireless campaign. He expanded his voter base by around 250 to secure that win, coming out about 500 votes ahead of Abdelaziz.
The mayor is already positioning himself for another run in the 2018 election. There is speculation that Sayegh might enter the race following his victory this year though the councilman has not confirmed any intention to do so. In 2014, Sayegh and Torres faced off for mayor with Torres being proclaimed the eventual victor.
But in 2018, there are two important factors that may come into play that were not present when Torres claimed his 2014 victory: the NBC investigation that alleges Torres was using Department of Public Works employees in his home and Sayegh’s proven ability to expand his voter base.
Earlier this year, Torres’ reputation took a blow when NBC made their findings public. If Sayegh did decide to run for mayor against Torres in 2018, the repercussions of that study may help him unseat the mayor.
Like Sayegh, Council Vice President Alex Mendez is a projected 2018 Paterson mayoral candidate. While his name wasn’t on the ballot, Mendez suffered some losses during this year’s election. He supported Wendy Guzman in the fifth ward and Flavio Rivera in the third ward but both candidates lost and cut Mendez’s hopes of securing more allies on the council.
Paterson is over 57 percent Latino/Hispanic. Because Torres is Puerto Rican and Mendez is Dominican, the two men could potentially split the Latino vote in 2018, giving Sayegh a bit of a boost. Sayegh has long represented the sixth ward’s primarily Arab population. He is a Syrian Christian and if he is able to woo and mobilize many of the city’s powerful Arab-Americans to support him as he did during the 2014 mayoral race, it could significantly bolster his chances. The dynamics here could propel Sayegh to a victory like the one Jeff Jones claimed in 2010 after a surprising push by Paterson’s African Americans installed him in office.
Sayegh also ran for mayor in 2010.