Former Paterson City Councilman William McKoy has dropped his legal challenge to a November special election, with incumbent Alex Mendez prevailing in a fourteen-month battle over the Third Ward council seat.
Mendez had defeated McKoy in a May 2020 election by 245 votes, but Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella ruled those alleged improprieties– the state attorney general charged Mendez with voter fraud — made it impossible to determine the real winner. He barred Mendez from being sworn in and ordered a new election in November.
In the do-over election, Mendez initially led McKoy by 14 votes and finally won by 9. He took his council seat last year.
On Thursday, attorneys for the two candidates – along with Deputy Attorney General Eric Reid – filed a notice of dismissal with the courts. Both sides agreed to pay their own costs.
Mendez’s attorney was one of the top election law experts in the state, Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moensch.
With Mendez now firmly entrenched in his seat – he doesn’t have to face voters again until May 2024 – Mayor André Sayegh must now deal with the realities of a city council where just 4 of the 9 members are considered political allies.
Sayegh was elected mayor in 2018 with 41% of the vote in a six-candidate field, with Mendez, then an at-large councilman, finishing second with 22%.
The next mayoral election is in May 2022 and Mendez, now playing a leading role in a council majority, could wind up as a credible mayoral candidate regardless of how quickly the attorney general moves on the charges against.
Mendez is expected to make a public announcement at noon Friday from the steps of City Hall.