Paterson residents elect city’s first Arab-American mayor

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PATERSON -

Paterson made history this week when residents elected the city’s first Arab-American mayor.

Mayor-elect Andre Sayegh says Paterson residents were willing to look beyond what was traditional when they elected him.

"We have 72 different ethnic groups, six wards, 146,199 residents, but we're one Paterson,” he says.

Sayegh says that his top priority now will be to reduce crime and the stigma surrounding the city.

"We are going to be hiring 25 new police officers in the summer.  Next year we anticipate 70 retirements, 59 percent of those are in supervisory roles, so it's conceivable if they all retire, for every one retiree, we can hire two new police officers,” he says.

The mayor-elect says that he also wants to focus on the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park and creating a division solely focused on developing tourism for it.

"I want a first-class visitor center named for our founder, Alexander Hamilton,” he says.

The project was initially started by Sayegh’s longtime nemesis, former Mayor Joey Torres.

"Quite frankly, people are not always wrong,” he says of Torres.

Torres is currently serving a prison sentence for corruption. He is not the only former Paterson mayor to have done so.

Sayegh says that he's ready to be held to the highest of ethical standards.

"I'm bracing myself for this, but I believe that there's initiatives we can pursue…that will restore faith in government in Paterson,” Sayegh says.

Sayegh takes office on July 1.

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