Goow Says Now

We offer a special thank you to our friend, former Ward 2 Councilman Aslon Goow of Paterson.

Former councilman Aslan Goow held a fundraiser rally at the epicenter of all Passaic County politics, The Brownstone.  Goow, a relative late-comer to the Paterson mayoral race, is looking to return to elected office once again and displace incumbent Mayor Andre Sayegh.  Goow and Councilman Alex Mendez represent the strongest threat to Sayegh and may draw away enough votes from the mayor’s base of support—which has no specific foundation in any one group, defying one of the hallmarks of Paterson electoral politics—to send Sayegh back to private life.

For his part, Goow sees a fairly diverse set of supporters, bolstered now with the endorsement of influential ethnic leaders in the city to secure strategic blocs in his path toward the mayor’s seat.  Sayegh’s projected chief rival, Mendez, lacks the broader appeal but is particularly popular with the city’s sizable Dominican population.  Nevertheless, despite Mendez’s charm and personality, he is hampered by his own indictment with respect to electoral fraud charges in 2020 and his alliance with former Mayor “Joey” Torres, potentially off-putting to voters when the candidates drum hard about the need to restore law and order in the city.  Councilmen Luis Velez and Michael Jackson are also running in the race, one which is officially non-partisan but exclusively Democrat.

As the candidates line up their respective allies and endorsements, Goow has received the blessings of former rivals and critics, such as Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, a powerful figure in the city’s politically-charged Bengali community, and former councilman Anthony Davis.   

As Paterson politics is a perpetually fractured and at times chaotic scene, supporters of Akhtaruzzaman and Councilman Shahin Khalique had violently clashed in the streets in 2020.  Davis spent time in federal prison for bribery charges.  Torres, presently backing Mendez, was removed from the mayor’s office in 2017 and spent 13 months in state prison for corruption, only to be charged again with contempt of court for running for office again in this present race.  Michael Jackson was also indicted on electoral fraud charges, like Mendez.

Goow said that Sayegh had attempted to bully him out of the race by asserting he did not live in Paterson, a claim he denied outright, releasing a video in his defense from his home of the last five decades.  A court challenge was immediately dismissed and Goow remains in the race.  Mendez’s campaign has also been challenged by Sayegh’s lawyers, on the grounds that his petitions and signatures were invalid, but Mendez has so far survived and remains competitive.

Goow slammed the incumbent mayor, blaming him for failing to address Paterson’s rise in violent crime, the distressed conditions of the city’s roads, and being in league with developers who are transforming and clogging up the overburdened city.

Gregory Maietta, a Patersonian businessman who had previously been a staunch supporter of Mayor Andre Sayegh, has now thrown his support behind Aslan Goow.  “This is the most important election of my lifetime for the City of Paterson,” he said.  “We need to bring change to politics as usual because politics as usual doesn’t work. We need a leader that’s going to make change in our city, for the people of our city, for the heart of our city. We need good integrity and experience.  Goow has been a councilman for 12 years, council president, a police officer, the guy’s a gem and could bring it out. He could bring about change. We just got to get the people to understand that this election is the most important election of our lifetimes.”

Akhtaruzzaman said that the differences he had with Goow in the past are “minor” and that the city needs a strong leader to take on the challenges of Paterson.  “We need a tough guy, a top person to come in and clean up a lot of the mess.  From the sewer bill to the property tax increase–some people can’t even pay the sewer bill, it’s like 400%.  We are talking about the people who are working, not like professional jobs making hundreds of thousands of dollars, but where these increases of a couple hundred dollars a month has a devastating impact.  We have to look at the big picture.  I support Goow.  I am disappointed in the current mayor.  He promised people things four years ago, and everything went up, look what happened.  Instead of moving forward, we moved backwards.”

Goow thanked those in attendance, and took note of the different backgrounds represented, but urged them to mobilize their friends, family, and supporters to turn out.  Lamenting the historically poor turnout of voters in the City of Paterson, Goow said that a lack of engagement is what kept the present power structure in place.  “The average [candidate] in these types of elections in a city of 160,000 people wins with 8,500 votes and almost every one of the people that are on that side of the fence all have nice county jobs in addition to their positions.  Everybody on the other side, and as God is my witness, is making $100,000 and more, many of them $150,000, $250,000, $300,000.  People want to talk about why New Jersey’s taxes are so high? It’s the salaries and the pensions, that those individuals get.”

Taking aim at the Democratic Party, of which he is affiliated, Goow stressed his autonomy and that his primary concern is for the City, not the Democratic party.  “I’m a Democrat. I don’t like what’s happening. I want us to be individuals, independent of what’s going on. People would have invested in our city but there’s no economic development, there are no new jobs being created. There are opportunities for developers, and I don’t have a problem with that, but this is a perfect example of what I’m talking about—corruption.”  Goow said that irresponsible developers have “run our neighborhoods into the ground and people want to leave” while lambasting the effect that crime has had on scaring off economic improvement in the city.

In another manifestation of Goow’s appeal crossing over traditional battle lines, Lynda Gallashaw, an African-American Paterson Republican who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat State Senator Nellie Pou in 2013, came out strong for the former councilman.  “I am really impressed with the boldness of the people in this room,” she said, “It take a lot to work against the machine.  They have brought the machine out against Goow and others.  Andre is running on full blast because people are finally ready to step forward.  How long must we be chained down to the system?  Where is the freedom of choice?  We can’t have it?  We’ve been Democrat from the school board, to Pascrell, to the White House.  As high as you can go.  They used a scare tactic on us last year, Trump-Trump-Trump.  Trump hasn’t been here in years.  We have to be concerned with local government and get that right.  Nobody in the White House is bothering us, the dirty streets and crime are not caused by the White House.  We need to be concerned here, we need to be focused, step out, and say ‘No more, sire,’ because Andre has been running around like a king threatening and scaring people.  I used to support him, we thought he was homegrown.  He spent so much time dancing and laughing in our community, he knew every area of the town, we thought he would be perfect.  Then he got in and he forgot a lot of us.  The black and brown people are in danger in Paterson. We are being pushed out and eventually we will be out if we don’t stop this man.  The change starts here with Aslan Goow.”

“There are five people running for this position,” Goow told the audience, a diverse set of nationalities, religions, and economic backgrounds, demonstrating the coalition forming around Goow’s campaign.  “We got to be in this to win this.  It’s going to take somebody extremely strong to say this is how it’s got to be and this is how it’s going to be done. You got to put the cops back out there. They gotta be walking. We have probably the most perfect plan to address the crime and the filth in our city, which I talked about 22 years ago. That’s what we campaigned on when I first ran for office. It’s 22 years later and we’re still talking about the same issues. Before me, they were talking about the same issues. When are we going to end it?”

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