Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Challengers Cite Budget, Crime in 3rd Ward Race

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Challengers Cite Budget, Crime in 3rd Ward Race

Article excerpt

Editor's note: This is one of a series of stories about the policy positions of candidates in Paterson's May election for City Council seats in the city's six wards. The responses are in the candidates' own words. Responses may have been trimmed to conserve space.

PATERSON -- Two of the challengers running for City Council in the 3rd Ward zeroed in on fiscal issues when asked about recent council decisions with which they disagree. A third challenger suggested the council expand an ordinance that requires businesses in a few high-crime areas to close at midnight to apply it citywide.

The incumbent, William McKoy, the council president, declined to identify any council decision he disagreed with, saying he did not want "to celebrate the dissenting vote."

McKoy is running against three members of the city Board of Education.

Lilisa Mimms said the city needed to stop using state transition aid as a financial crutch as she took exception with the council's approval of a budget this year that raised taxes by 5.8 percent.

Flavio Rivera said the city's budget is inflated and that he would seek to use the council's authority to cut individual spending allocations.

Kenneth Simmons said too many liquor stores have established small bars on their premises to create a loophole allowing them to stay open to 2 a.m. He said the business curfew should apply citywide to reduce violence.

Paterson Press: Identify one decision made by the City Council during the past year -- such as passage of an ordinance or resolution -- that you disagree with and explain what you think would have been a better course of action.

McKoy: As the council president and the longest-serving member of the City Council, it's important to note that the council's decisions are made based on the level of knowledge, understanding and life experiences each council member brings to bear on the information presented, taking into consideration the potential impact on the city. We must recognize that whether we voted in favor or against a matter, once the decision is made it becomes a "council decision" and we must own it, regardless of our vote.

Therefore, I respectfully submit that there is no need to celebrate the dissenting vote, but rather to embrace the corporate decisions with the understanding of the adage "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Mimms: Here we go again, another tax increase of 5.8 percent for homeowners in Paterson. Are you kidding me? For the last 10 years, we have been affected by this insensitivity and lack of a clear plan for the growth and sustainability of our economy. It's time for change!

We have used state transitional aid as a "crutch" for the past 25 years with no vision to move this city from "survival mode" into a thriving economic community.

As your next councilwoman, I would not keep voting yes to increase your taxes; work with the administration to ensure the budgeting process begins by July/August to best reflect the constituents' needs and priorities; provide fiscal oversight by reviewing budget line items to ensure academic excellence, recreational resources and job opportunities are available for all; turn liabilities into assets through rehabilitation of vacant and abandoned properties to increase revenue, affordable housing and better quality of life; develop community forums periodically to ensure your concerns are heard and addressed; work to identify business incentive programs to help grow existing businesses and attract new industries and build infrastructure; and ensure our budget reflects our youth, seniors and the diversity of our community. …

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