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Paterson Youth Council Hosts City Council Candidate Forum

Paterson Youth Council Hosts City Council Candidate Forum

May 8, 2024

View photos of the forum


NJCDC started the Paterson Youth Council (PYC) in 2006 to give Paterson youth a platform to express themselves and make their voices heard. Each year, 30 Paterson youth between the ages of 14 and 18 are selected as PYC members. These teens spend the year developing their leadership skills and improving their community through youth-led programming in civic engagement, college readiness, community service, and financial literacy.


As part of their civic engagement programming, PYC members hold a question-and-answer forum for Paterson City Council candidates every year that there is a municipal election. This forum gives candidates a chance to answer questions directly from the constituents they plan to serve. It also allows Paterson voters to make more informed decisions when they cast their ballots.

On April 24, PYC members, City Council candidates, and Paterson residents gathered at our Great Falls Youth Center for this year’s candidate forum. Attendees were welcomed by the PYC’s advisors, NJCDC’s Chief Program Officer, David Gelman, and NJCDC’s Director of Community Outreach, Eddie Gonzalez. Both thanked the candidates for coming, before turning the event over to the PYC members.

The forum was moderated by PYC President Mohammed Arham and PYC Vice President Samiha Chowdhury. The questions had been prepared in advance by PYC members, and every candidate was given two minutes to respond to each question.


“The PYC is a group of students dedicated to both service and youth empowerment,” said Samiha. “We are also heavily involved in furthering the advancement of not only Paterson, but New Jersey as a whole. Our historic city has been under-served for far too long, so we aim to show that a student from Paterson can be just as successful as a student outside of Paterson.

In attendance were candidates from Paterson’s First, Second, and Fifth Wards. From the First Ward, we were joined by Councilman Michael Jackson, as well as Ramona Blizzard, Rodney Addison, and Mosleh Uddin. Representing the Second Ward were Councilman Shahin Khalique and Frank Filippelli, while the Fifth Ward was represented by Councilman Luis Velez, David Soo, and Sebastian Mejia.


Candidates were asked their opinion on a variety of topics impacting Paterson youth, including the state’s recent takeover of the Paterson Police Department, the possibility of a youth curfew, and ensuring Paterson youth benefit from the newly reopened Hinchliffe Stadium. Other questions focused on improving the city’s educational system and recreation opportunities, and increasing access to mental health services.


“It’s very important that the youth actually hear your platform,” said PYC advisor Eddie Gonzalez, “because the youth are our future, and our future voters as well.”


Paterson residents can watch the live recording of the event here, and vote in the elections on May 14.

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