It’s officially on. Paterson Third Ward Councilman Alex Mendez last night formally announced his intention to seek the mayoralty in 2022.
Appearing at The Brownstone, Mendez said he wants a rematch with incumbent Mayor Andre Sayegh, who beat him in 2018.
A former at-large councilman, Mendez gave up his citywide seat to run for mayor, then came back by defeating Third Ward Councilman Bill McKoy in one of the longest local elections of all time.
Mendez’ announcement occurred after a group of his friends grabbed the microphone and popped the question.
Are you running for mayor in 2022?
Mendez replied: “Yes, I’ll be running for mayor.”
The councilman – who beat bitter rival McKoy in a special election following a controversial – and scandalous – first encounter, still faces voting fraud charges filed against him and Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson in connection with the May 12, 2020 special election in the City of Paterson.
All four men are charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.
Mendez has maintained his innocence and argues a certain degree of vindication based on his subsequent victory over the incumbent councilman not quite on the order of William Musto’s infamous “This is my jury.”
“Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez have a long way to go if they are going to surpass Rigo Rodriguez.
“After the Attorney General’s Office charged Rodriguez with election fraud in 2010, he continued to serve 42 months on the Paterson City Council — and ran for mayor — before his criminal case was resolved with his admission to New Jersey’s pretrial intervention probationary program.
“The two current City Council members accused of voting fraud, Jackson and Mendez, recently reached the first anniversary of the charges being filed against them.
“Political insiders say Mendez and Jackson seem not to have let the cloud of the pending criminal cases affect their performance as elected officials. Both men have remained outspoken and aggressive critics of Mayor Andre Sayegh’s.”
As it turns out, based on what went down last night at The Brownstone, not just an outspoken critic in the case of Mendez – but a citywide opponent. Adding another wrinkle – word on the street is that Mendez and Jackson have court dates tomorrow.
For his part, Mendez might not be the only embattled longtime Latino brand name who wants in on the contest.
“Four years after his criminal conviction, former Mayor Joey Torres says he is considering running for Paterson’s top job next year, and political insiders say he might make a strong candidate,” according to The Record.