the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Paterson NJ, The Organization for Economic Growth endorses Pedro Rodriguez for mayor and his at large council team of Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman and Mitch Santiago in the May 8th election, announced OEG Chairman Joseph Caruso
“We believe the Rodriguez team has the most well rounded and realistic approach to economic revitalization to one of New Jersey’s most impoverished, but important cities,” said Caruso. The endorsement is based on responses to a questionnaire on economic issues given to all the Paterson candidates
“The Rodriguez Team responded with a sensible and detailed approach to restoring the city’s economic vitality rather than the general pie-in-the sky objectives that lead nowhere,” added Caruso. “His willingness to embrace public/private partnerships and tax incentives was a major factor for our support of Mr. Rodriguez.”
The city’s next mayor will inherit a city with many economic problems, including a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, a severe lacking of economic investment in the central city and significant problems in housing and crime. Previous administrations, dating back decades have failed to attract notable development to the city.
Caruso said Rodriquez is on the right track saying he will overhaul the building department to insure that it is business friendly; hire a professional to oversee economic development and will employ the use of PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) and encourage public private partnerships.
“The city desperately needs to be more cooperative with those willing to invest in Paterson and it needs an outside economic development professional – not a political patron – with real world experience to guide the next administration in developing a vision for where the city wants to be in a decade.” said Caruso.
Noting that PILOTs are sometimes criticized as sops to businesses, Caruso said they are a necessary tool to incentivize developers to invest in areas that offer marginal return and significant risk. Rodriguez also said he wants to develop a grant application program to help spur redevelopment and embrace incentives for mixed use development to encourage construction of new housing. Paterson’s housing conditions, particularly in the North and Central wards, are in bad shape and must be addressed, says the OEG executive.
In his responses to the OEG questionnaire, Rodriguez said: “I have a comprehensive plan to place vacant and dilapidated properties into the hands of Patersonians. I vow to reduce the number of abandoned properties by introducing programs such as the 203K loan which will ease the ability for our residents to not only purchase a home but also renovate it. We must provide easier pathways for our residents to achieve the American dream of owning a home which has been statistically proven to ensure proper maintenance and upkeep.”
Rodriguez also recognized the city’s crime problem as a major stumbling block to investment and to attracting people to shop in and visit the city. To help combat crime, Rodriguez said he will commission an independent audit of the city’s budget to identify wasteful spending and redirect those resources into hiring more police officers and to take more cops from behind desks and put them out on the street. He also said he wants to invest in repairing existing — and installing — new surveillance cameras to protect the city’s residents.
“Mr. Rodriguez and his running mates Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman and Mitch Santiago provided thoughtful, well rounded responses to our questionnaire, showing that they have put in the time to consider the problems Paterson must overcome and formulated a way to overcome them,” said Caruso.
“Paterson doesn’t need a cheerleader for mayor; it needs someone who will roll up his sleeves and provide the hands on, serious leadership that will lead to investments, jobs and better housing. We are hopeful that Mr. Rodriguez may be that person.” added Caruso.
The NJOEG was founded to support candidates and policies that improve the state and regional economies. To learn more about the NJ OEG visit our website www.NJOEG.com; or visit us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StrengthThroughIndustry/