Passaic County Freeholder Assad Akhter is kicking the tires on a 2018 mayoral run, InsiderNJ has learned.
The former deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), Akhter rose to fill a vacancy last year when Freeholder Hector Lora left his countywide seat to become mayor of Passaic City. After 11 years with Pascrell’s office, Akhter left a few months ago to become the director of community outreach for St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Now he’s said to be examining a possible run to lead the Silk City, with people nudging him to get in the developing contest. The sitting mayor, Jose “Joey” Torres is under indictment. Former Public Safety Director Glenn Brown is officially a candidate. So is At-Large Councilman Alex Mendez, and so is Councilman Bill McKoy. Paterson sources expect others to get in the race, and more than a few people continue to watch the movements of Councilman Andre Sayegh, who in 2014 came up short in his bid to stop the since toxicified (but innocent until proved guilty) Torres.
Torres also wants to run again.
Pedro Rodriguez and Manny Martinez are also in the mix.
Akhter’s decision may or may not relate to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy’s impending decision about a running mate, depending how deeply the Democratic establishment would go in with his citywide candidacy, if at all. He has strong contacts with Pascrell and Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie. If Murphy picks Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) of Paterson, Sayegh could be placed in that seat in exchange for declining a third mayoral bid and backing Akhter. But there are others who would be interested, presumably Freeholder T.J Best and local party leader Al Abdel-Aziz.
A respected presence in Paterson and a Muslim, Akhter often stood in for Congressman Pascrell as a spokesman and district point man.