How Martin G. Barnes Went from the Third Floor to the Second Floor in Paterson City Hall



That was the last time the Paterson City Council chose from its own ranks to appoint a successor to the outgoing mayor. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) was mayor at the time, and after he knocked off U.S. Rep. Bill Martini (D-8), the city council rewarded Councilman Marty Barnes with the mayoralty.

Barnes was not Pascrell’s choice, but bumped off the congressman-elect’s pick by a vote of 5-3 to nab the unexpired term.

An appointed interim mayor could be in the Silk City’s imminent future.

If sitting Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres does indeed take a plea deal with the state, as sources speculate he will as early as Friday, he would leave the seat to Council President Ruby Cotton – unless someone on the council musters sufficient votes to defeat Cotton.

Cotton has told people she wouldn’t pursue the seat in 2018, a different course than the one Barnes took back in 1997.

Paterson’s first Black mayor, Barnes ran for mayor a year after the council appointed him to the position, securing as full four year term as mayor in 1998. He was the only person in Paterson’s history who ran unopposed to the position. Born and raised in the Riverside Projects, who received a degree in Educational Psychology from Seton Hall University, and became an officer in The National Tenants Organization (NTO).

Torres knocked him off a corruption case-hobbled Barnes in 2002.  Two months after his defeat, the mayor entered into a plea bargain with the feds, resulting in a 37-month prison sentence in 2003.

Torres served two terms before At-Large Councilman Jeff Jones defeated him in 2010.

The Puerto Rican former mayor soundly whipped Jones in a 2014 rematch, then got jammed up earlier this year.

Barnes was the first Black Republican Mayor of Paterson. Jones was the first Black Democrat to serve as Mayor of Paterson.

Mayor Barnes died in 2012 at the age of 64.

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