PATERSON, NJ - Councilman Alex Mendez won’t be sworn in at noon Wednesday, but he will be in front of Paterson City Hall “with the people,” he said in a Facebook Live video just a couple of hours after a Passaic County Judge upheld his Tuesday decision to keep the seat vacant.

“What happened to due process,” Mendez asked. “What happened to innocent until proven guilty?”

While Councilman William “Bill” McKoy had initially called for a judge to consider forcing a new election after concerns surfaced with the counting of ballots in the initial contest that gave Mendez a 240 vote lead, a second filing asked for the seat to be kept vacant.

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Allowing Mendez to serve following being charged with several election fraud crimes, McKoy’s attorney argued, would cause “irreparable harm,” to the City of Paterson. 

In considering an appeal to his initial decision, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela said that considering the “totality of circumstances” he could not “come to the conclusion that this election represented the will of the people.”

As his legal counsel did previously, Mendez called into question two accusations made by the McKoy camp, one that an individual identified as “Yaya” Mendez picked up and delivered ballots to unknown locations, and a second that Trecia Thompson alleged to have handed her completed ballot to a mail man near her 33rd Street home and later found it on 18th Street, after the deadline for it to be counted had passed.

The campaign worker, a single mother from Passaic, Mendez said, was paid $70 to hand out campaign literature. 

“We are fighting against people that don’t want independent people to be in position,” Mendez said, adding that he was “uncomfortable and frustrated.”

Before switching to Spanish Mendez said that despite being sworn in he would continue to serve the community. “If you need Alex Mendez, Alex Mendez will be there for you.”

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