A night when Paterson tried to shine in the national spotlight amid the ongoing hazards of the pandemic in its densely packed space, also proved to be an entry point for the jeers of one of the mayor’s longest-standing rival Silk City – but not silky in a soothing sense – voices.
They haven’t gotten a long for some time now, but their differences never stood in the way of the two Democrats’ mutual ascent in city political circles.
Paterson, to this point anyway, was big enough for both of them.
But Mayor Andre Sayegh (top) and Passaic County Freeholder T.J. Best were probably never going to get
In the words of one source, “Two guys coming up, both claiming to be sons of Paterson….both with flaws in judgement and aspirations of greatness.”
The real trouble between them goes back to when they bumped up against each other in the close-proximity offices of the NJCDC Family Center, where they both worked.
They had a disagreement.
It went deep, especially for Best.
Tonight, he reacted in hard terms to the mayor of his city he saw on an MSNBC interview show, All In, with Chris Hayes – a rare Big Apple-centered network appearance by a Paterson leader.
Paterson generally lives in the shadow of Jersey City and Newark when it comes to press coverage, and the freeholder didn’t take kindly to the mayor using the big footprint cable TV spot to talk about the COVID-19-battered city’s contact tracing successes.
Saygeh didn’t like what he wrote, either, and – according to one source – already made the phone call tonight and had it out with his rival. Coming off unresolved mid-term elections, which did not go well for him (even though a legal team is now mobilizing to take up the elections cause of two of his allies), the mayor had to absorb the clean reelection victory of another hard-edged critic, First Ward Councilman Mike Jackson.
First, a reanimated Jackson.
Now, a reanimated Best.
Old rival Alex Mendez was also pawing at the turf, ready to regain a seat on the city council to – presumably – criticize the mayor.
“I’m sure this is now just the beginning of this,” a Paterson source groaned. “It’s going to be a rough couple of years ahead.”
Up for reelection this year, Best had appeared at the end of 2019 to be poised for an exit from politics, and as he appeared to waver before discussing his future with Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie, two of Sayegh’s allies – At-Large Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms and Planning Board Member Wayne Witherspoon – looked ready to go as rivals for establishment support.
But Best, having teased his tormentor(s) over the line long enough to see their faces between the shadows, then went in, secured his support from Currie, and triumphantly announced his intentions of running for reelection with the full backing of the county party committee in Democratic Party-dominat Passaic.
Apparently wounded by the midterms, Sayegh nonetheless was not gone on Tuesday evening, with ward allies Mohammed Azhtaruzzaman and Bill McKoy signalling their intentions of fighting the May 12th elections results in court on account of, in Akhtaruzzaman’s words, the possibilty of “fraud afoot.”
When InsiderNJ coomented to a Paterson diehard on the survivability factor of both Sayegh and Best despite their sulfuric differences, each with a ral following, and overlapping powerful allies, including Currie and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), the source merely shrugged.
“Yup… that’s Paterson.”
Not always ready for prime TV time perhaps, but ready to fight ward to ward – or for the line.
By morning, Best had removed the post.