PATERSON – The presence of Arab-American leader Al Abdel-Aziz at Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ Brownstone fundraiser this evening is creating a political stir in the city.
Abdel-Aziz (pictured) appears to be positioning himself to run next year against Ward Six Councilman Andre Sayegh.
If he does, his challenge of Sayegh would represent a significant rupture in the 6th Ward and an indication of Torres’ increasing political strength in this, his third term as mayor.
Sayegh ran for mayor twice against Torres, losing in 2010 and 2014. A Ward Six Democratic Party captain, Abdel-Aziz backed Sayegh aggressively last year only to come up short as a comebcking Torres defeated the ward councilman.
Now Torres and Abdel-Aziz appear increasingly comfortable as the mayor muses aloud about publicly forging a slate to put down those who oppose him.
Sayegh tops that list.
Abdel-Aziz would be a tough out for the incumbent, who has held the ward seat since 2008. A local teacher and coach, the Palestinian American comes from a big Muslim family with deep roots in the community.