Former Teaneck Councilman Alan Sohn, an Orthodox Jew who serves on the Democratic County Committee, is defending 37th district Assembly candidate Alexandra Soriano-Taveras from criticism that she called for a boycott of Jewish businesses at a rally last July.
“Alexandra Soriano-Taveras is not anti-Semitic, nor is she anti-Orthodox,” said Sohn, who served on the council from 2014 to 2018.
Sohn said he was among the Teaneck residents who participated in a protest after the local governing body advanced a leadership team of three white males.
Gervonn Romney Rice, a Black councilwoman who was also present at the rally, had sought to be named deputy mayor. She is also running for the open Assembly seat in a primary against Soriano-Taveras.
“The smears against Alexandra are just that,” Sohn said in a letter to Democratic County Chairman Paul Juliano. “Smears intended to fool our Democratic leaders to undermine a qualified candidate.”
In his letter, Sohn alleges that Councilman Elie Y. Katz, who wants Soriano-Taveras off the Democratic ticket, had targeted him with “repeated malicious attacks” during his 2014 campaign. He said Katz called him a “tool of anti-Semites.”
In a video of the rally, Soriano-Taveras’ voice was heard saying, “Boycott those businesses, including the Dunkin’ Donuts and everything else, and we hurt them in their pockets. Who owns those businesses that we continue to support on Cedar Lane?”
“I was present for almost the entire protest and heard every statement made there,” Sohn said in his letter.
The video has sparked outrage among some top Democrats, including Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), who has represented parts of Bergen County in the legislature for the last 18 years.
Democrats are now pondering the viability of Soriano-Taveras’ candidacy
Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood), who is running for the State Senate, has slightly distanced himself from his likely running mate.
“I am not happy that she chose those words, period,” Johnson told The Jewish Link. “I am looking for coordination and guidance, but the selection process is not done by me, so I am looking to see how they [the County Democratic Committee] are going to handle this situation.”
The former councilman said the attack on Soriano-Taveras, the Teaneck Demcoratic Municipal Chair, is “a thinly veiled attempt to distract attention from their corrupt actions and as a way to wield political power at a higher level by a group of Republicans and Republican supporters who are trying their best to fool our Democratic leadership with false claims.”
Katz, along with Councilmen Yitz Stern and Mark Schwartz, were among a group of Democratic officeholders who endorsed Gov. Chris Christie for re-election in 2013.
“I see the cynicism of supporting Gervonn Romney Rice for Assembly as a way to get rid of the only effective voice of opposition on council, after Schwartz, Katz and (Mayor Jon) Dunleavy deemed her unfit to serve the township as deputy mayor and have treated her with disdain and derision over the past eight months,” Sohn said.
“Alexandra deserves the opportunity to be chosen by my fellow county committee members at the forthcoming DCBC convention and she deserves the opportunity to run with the party’s support in the June primary,” he said.