Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

5th Ward to Usher in a New Face for Council

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

5th Ward to Usher in a New Face for Council

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- The 5th Ward's councilman, Julio Tavarez, had championed the creation of a special improvement district in the Sandy Hill neighborhood as a way to give residents a better quality of life.

But Tavarez's colleagues on the council never approved a budget for the improvement district, and extra security and maintenance workers were not deployed.

Tavarez has opted not to run for reelection. Paterson Press asked the three people vying for the 5th Ward seat in the May election about their plans for addressing quality-of-life issues.

The candidates are Chrystal Cleaves, a member of the city school board and legislative aide for Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly; Wendy Guzman, a former school board member who works as a clerk in the city fire department; and Luiz Velez, a community activist who said he is a self-employed bail bond agent and insurance underwriter.

Paterson Press: What should the city's strategy be for dealing with quality-of-life issues like vagrancy, prostitution, panhandling, noise violations, etc.? Would you reallocate resources from other city enforcement efforts? Or advocate an increase in spending on enforcement?

Cleaves: Quality-of-life issues affect us all, so to combat it, all of us collectively have to take an active role in finding solutions. Continuous community forums need to occur in every district throughout each ward. By coming together we can use a strong and unified one voice to advance policy and find positive solutions to the problems we face as a community.

The ordinances that are already in place need to be enforced. Every agency (including police, business owners, and citizens) needs to comply with the laws that have already been established by their agencies for the betterment of the quality of life of every citizen.

If elected, I will review those specific ordinances and meet with the necessary parties to find out what is stopping them from enforcing these ordinances, so we as a collective body can either reallocate resources or look at grants that can assist in allocating funds for these specific issues.

Guzman: The strategy for dealing with quality of life issues that we have in our city should be enforcing the laws that are already in place. …

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