PATERSON – While his opponents sought to depict him as a cowboy, Ward Two Councilman Aslon Goow in a debate at Passaic County Community College tonight argued that he puts his combativeness to work for the city.
“They all talk about professionalism, decorum,” said Goow. “We shut down the mayor’s brother’s liquor store, and kicked gangs off of Union Avenue and Jackson Avenue. The Second Ward has the lowest crime rate in the city, and has an aggressive representative.
“Don’t let them con you,” he added.
Challengers Elizabeth Rosado, wife of seven months of former Councilman Jerry Luis Rosado; and mason contractor John Larko fought each other as much as they tag-teamed in an effort to weaken the two-term incumbent.
Larko argued that Goow and Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres have engaged in “childish feuds,” while seniors cry when they receive their tax bills and Paterson crime continues to be reminiscent, in Larko’s words, of the Bronx in the 1980s.
Goow, according to Larko, bickered with Torres over the color of 19 police cars, resulting in a costly repainting job. The challenger also charged the councilman with failing to repair the city’s shooting range as chair of the public safety committee, and indulging in City Hall meals at taxpayers’ expense.
Arguing that he has a more even-keel temperament, Larko said, “I would be able to talk to the mayor like a gentleman. …I’ll be able to get along a lot better with people than you, Mr. Goow. I’m going to represent the average person in the city.”
He criticized Rosado based on the past performance of her husband on the council.
“I see Mrs. Rosado, whose husband made a joke of the city,” said Larko, ultimately presenting himself as an alternative to the Torres family-allied Rosado on the one side and Torres nemesis Goow on the other.
For her part, Rosado defended her husband as an asset to the city when he served on the City Council, highlighted her experience as a commissioner on the Board of Adjustment and as a community volunteer, and shared her breast cancer survivor story as an eye view into her toughness.
Bracketed by opening and closing statements, the candidates had the opportunity to ask two questions of each of their opponents.
Goow, a private investigator, hit Rosado on her past financial troubles.
“The City of Paterson’s budget is $200 million plus,” he said. “We’re talking big money here. Accountability. You went bankrupt.”
Rosado shot back, “My bankruptcy was due to my breast cancer and raising two children as a single mother. The city is not going through breast cancer or bankruptcy. Shame on you.”
When Larko suggested to Goow that the councilman is using the Second Ward as a stepping stone to another run for mayor, Goow answered, “”I will continue to run for office as councilman in the Second Ward. If I have the opportunity to seek the office of mayor, I will most definitely do so.”
Rosado attempted to deflate Larko’s self-presentation as the anti-Goow when he asked her if she would break the law while a councilwoman, as her husband did when he fled the scene of a car accident.
“I’m a good obeying citizen,” she said. “I’m staying focused on the issues. If you’re going to be another Councilman Goow, shame on you.”
To a Rosado question posed to both opponents about whether they favored a continuation of a tax abatement for Garrett Heights, Goow said in general he disapproves of tax abatements, while Larko called them “corporate welfare.”
Goow used his closing statement to attempt to shake off the charge that his horns are locked with the mayor, rendering him ineffective.
“Every time a new mayor comes in he tries to represent his own colors, just like the gangs do,” explained Goow, who said he attempted to break up the tradition of police car painting by offering the suggestion that cars be painted straight up black and white.
Moderated by City Clerk Jane E. Williams-Warren, the debate took place in the college’s Paterson Room and was broadcast via closed circuit television to an audience gathered in the adjoining school cafeteria.