After a Tuesday night ballot count, Alex Mendez has defeated Bill McKoy in the Third Ward, a Paterson
contest scarred by allegations of ballot tampering in a collision between an iconic incumbent and comebacking former councilman.
Characterized by a rivalry between two candidates who could not be more different, the effervescent Mendez took down the cerebral McKoy in a puzzling and impassioned all vote-by-mail (VBM) mid-term election in a result – if it holds amid ongoing scrutiny and allegations of fraud – that wounds Mayor Andre Sayegh.
The mayor had this year thrown in with numbers-cruncher McKoy – respected as a local statesman with veteran chops, a legitimate heavyweight from another era of Paterson politics – to halt former livery business owner (and former councilman-at large) Mendez, who had placed second in the 2018 mayor’s race, which Sayegh won.
Two other competitive ward races also went against Sayegh tonight, although longtime Paterson politics watchers anticipate an immediate court destination for at least the 2nd Ward, where – on the campaign trail at least – the bats were already literally out.
In the First, Councilman Mike Jackson has consistently been the governing body’s fiercest critic – and biggest headache – of the Sayegh Administration.
Councilman Mike Jackson 844 WINNER
Nakima Redmon 599
Mosleh Uddin 490
Councilman Shahin Khalique: 1,729 WINNER
Alex Mendez 1,595 WINNER
Councilman Bill McKoy 1,350
In Ward One, Jackson – an ardent rival of the mayor – celebrated his win.
“I’m confident the people in the First Ward are clear on my commitment,” the councilman said. “Both my opponents put out a great number of signs. I didn’t put out one sign. I put out a flier with details of the work I’ve done. The people have woken up and they are paying attention to the work that I’m doing.”
Asked about sitting Council President Maritza Davila, Jackson added, “Definitely, she has my support. She’s done a phenomenal job. The council is a group of people looking to do something different and not be accepting of the same stuff.”
Council President Davila was likewise happy with the results, and acknowledged the razor-thin margin of her incumbent ally in the second and hinted at a likely protracted legal battle.
“Councilman Khalique has won reelection and we are ready to support him,” said the Council President. “The people of the Second Ward have spoken. They want someone like Councilman Khalique to represent them.”
In the other contests, Ward 4 Councilwoman Ruby Cotton – who lost her husband last month to
COVID-19 – won in a landslide, and Ward 5 Councilman Luis Velez likewise won convincingly.
Ward 6 incumbent Councilman Al Abdel-aziz did not face competition.
The apparent fall tonight of 20-year veteran and proud Jamaican American McKoy would mean that eight out of the nine sitting councilmembers – 89% – have been in office six years or less.
Defeated by Sayegh citywide two years ago, the irrepressible Mendez’s return to city hall will undoubtedly cause heads to turn toward a possible mayoral rematch come 2022. In a speech to supporters tonight, he pledged to work with the establishment, including Governor Phil Murphy and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) – key Sayegh allies – for the good of Paterson.