‘Torres for mayor’ campaign in Paterson is shameless even by N.J. standards

September 22, 2021 6:45 am

Joey Torres resigned in disgrace in 2017 after pleading guilty to a public corruption charge. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

“Why not?”

That’s what Joey Torres told Joe Malinconico for a Monday story about Torres testing the waters for a mayoral run in Paterson, a story that posted almost exactly four years after Torres pleaded guilty to corruption charges and resigned in disgrace as the city’s mayor.

I love messy drama, so part of me loves his chutzpah. But Torres’s nascent campaign to recapture Paterson’s mayoralty is embarassing even by New Jersey standards.

In 2017, prosecutors accused Torres of ordering city employees to work on a Torres family business while collecting taxpayer-funded overtime. At first he claimed innocence, but pleaded guilty after prosecutors offered the city workers a deal in exchange for testifying against him. Then Torres, after admitting his guilt, tried clinging to power for as long as he could and was forced to step down before spending 13 months in prison.

In a sane world, all this would prevent Torres from deciding to run for office again, but New Jersey politicians, particularly New Jersey Democrats, are often incapable of shame.

It’s not clear Torres would be able to serve as mayor if elected. He said he sees no reason why he couldn’t. The state Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted him, told Malinconico that Torres’ plea agreement requires he forfeit public office and bans him from future public employment for life. Their statement says: “The forfeiture order itself provides that the defendant understands that if he makes any future application for public employment in violation of this order, he will be subject to a fourth-degree contempt charge.”

I don’t know what kind of legal advice the ex-mayor is getting, but to me, the A.G.’s statement reads as, “F around and find out, Mr. Torres.”

New Jersey has a bad reputation as a haven for sleazy politics, and this is one of the reasons why: A mayor who admitted using city employees as his personal contractors only four years ago wants the keys to City Hall again.

Paterson deserves better than this. If Joey Torres wants a second chance, there are plenty of opportunities to help the people of his city in other ways. Leave the mayor’s office to someone who hasn’t admitted abusing his power.


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Terrence T. McDonald
Terrence T. McDonald

Editor Terrence T. McDonald is a native New Jerseyan who has worked for newspapers in the Garden State for more than 15 years. He has covered everything from Trenton politics to the smallest of municipal squabbles, exposing public corruption and general malfeasance at every level of government. Terrence won 23 New Jersey Press Association awards and two Tim O’Brien Awards for Investigative Journalism using the Open Public Records Act from the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. One politician forced to resign in disgrace because of Terrence’s reporting called him a "political poison pen journalist.”