In a contentious special meeting last night that packed the chambers with residents, the Paterson City Council voted to remove Council President Ruby Cotton as acting mayor and install former City Clerk Jane Warren-Williams. Cotton has been serving as acting mayor since Monday morning, when Joey Torres resigned after accepting a guilty plea. Warren-Williams will take over on October 10th.
Paterson Times’ Jay Rahman has the full story here.
Warren-Williams served 24 years as the City Clerk, and fifty years as a city employee. She retired in 2014. Her name had been among those circulating as a possible replacement for Torres in the immediate aftermath of his resignation.
The Council went into a closed session to deliberate the choices, and emerged to vote on a resolution naming Warren-Williams as the new acting mayor. Several council members used the rationale that they were uncomfortable with Cotton serving in duel roles as Council President and Acting Mayor.
Voting in favor of Warren-Williams were Council members Jackson, Khalique, McKoy, Mendez, and Morris. Voting against were Council members Sayegh, Davila, Velez, and a visibly upset Cotton, who at one point said, “I just don’t like the fact that two black women were put against each other.”
As reported by the Paterson Times, “seeing the large number of speakers expressing support for Cotton, Sayegh attempted to move to adjourn the meeting which would keep Cotton in power. The crowd began chanting, “Ruby! Ruby! Ruby!” Davila and McKoy objected to Sayegh’s move. ‘Councilman Sayegh has been playing these games for a longtime,’ remarked McKoy. ‘We have a room full of people here, but this is a city of 150,000 people. This is a serious matter. The least we could do is deliberate on the matter before us.'”
The removal of Cotton and the installation of Warren-Williams is seen by many in the context of the next May’s municipal elections. McKoy, Sayegh, Mendez, and Jackson are all gaming out runs for the City’s top spot, with Mendez already announced and openly campaigning and Sayegh signaling an entry into the race.