Blue Magazine Endorses Alex Cruz for Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey
By Daniel Del Valle and George Beck
Paterson Detective Alex Cruz, a 24-year veteran, and current PBA President of Local # 1, has his eye set on becoming the next mayor of Paterson. He’s a non-politician whose purpose is simple: He wants to turn the City of Paterson around—to make it an safe and thriving community to raise a family. Cruz is known in the law enforcement profession as a man of integrity and compassion, and it is Blue Magazine’s hope that he become the next Paterson mayor. We have faith in him and his leadership ability. We know he will be the change Paterson urgently needs. Blue Magazine enthusiastically endorses Alex Cruz for mayor of Paterson.
Tell us: Who is Alex Cruz?
First and foremost, I am a man of great faith. Faith in God, faith in my family, faith in my community and faith in myself. Being in the military and serving in law enforcement teaches you a great deal about having the will and commitment to put the needs of others in front of your own. I have been blessed to always have the love and support of family around me on those days when sometimes you start to question yourself… they renew my faith by always showing their faith in me.
For the residents in Paterson, Why should they vote Alex Cruz?
Change… and I am the change agent. The entire country is at a crossroads right now. People are just tired of the same old politicians selling them the same old story and getting the same old results. I am not a politician. I don’t act like one, I don’t live like one and I don’t have my sights set on higher office. I have one singular focus. To turn Paterson around and restore other people’s faith in our city.
What made you decide to run for mayor in a major city like Paterson, NJ?
Through the years, Paterson has suffered from a severe lack of vision and leadership. Self-serving politicians worried more about themselves than they did about moving the City forward. I just got tired of it. Paterson holds a unique place in American history. It’s a wonderful City rich in culture, diversity and natural resources. It’s time we get back to celebrating the things that matter and start working towards changing the negative perceptions outsiders have in our City so that we can spur economic growth and development and move the City forward.
You had an issue that has been resolved in court in your favor pertaining to your eligibility to run for mayor based on your residency status in Paterson. What are your thoughts on that?
As I said previously, I am a man of great faith. I never had any doubt that I would be vindicated in Superior Court and The Appellate Court because I am a Patersonian in every sense of the word. Residency is more than just a name on a mailbox.
What is the major issue currently facing the residents of the City of Paterson?
A lack of meaningful growth and economic development. Growth and prosperity cure a lot of ills, including high crime rates, personal income, jobs and opportunity. But in all fairness, to have growth you need to create the climate for growth to occur. That starts with cleaner streets and safer neighborhoods so that investors are comfortable and believe in the city’s future stability.
What will you do to solve this?
Dedicate more resources to our police department so we can be more proactive and return to a more community-based grass-roots style of policing. Its about finding new ways to pay for hiring new police officers but it’s also just as much about rebalancing the city’s budget to ensure that existing resources are prioritized properly so that the police department has the resources they need to get the job done. Do that and all the rest will follow.
What are other major issues you plan to address as mayor?
Accountability. One of the bold approaches I want to take to help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse at every level of local government is by taking a page out of the Federal government’s playbook and creating the Office of Inspector General. It would function as an independent oversight body that ensures an adequate system of checks and balances are in place to guard against government corruption and mismanagement. Politics exists in a gray world, not a black and white one. To counter and safeguard local government officials from unwittingly venturing down the wrong path, the work of the Inspector General would also include routine briefings on ethics rules and provide mandatory in-service training and continuing education units for all department heads on ethics, values and leadership.
How has your experience as a Paterson police officer and president of PBA local #1 prepared to serve as mayor?
As a police officer and union representative you experience the administration and the city at is most grass-roots levels, not form a comfortable office at City Hall. You meet real people, with real problems in real time and are intimately involved with the problems and issues confronting them. Most importantly you try to help them find solutions. There is no greater on the job training for mayor than that.
You are very passionate when it comes to the youth. What are your plans on how to inspire the youth in Paterson to succeed, while facing the high crime rate and low income issues many families face day today?
People need to see change and feel it in the vibe of the city streets. Moving forward means creating the conditions where families can live safely and have the opportunity to have a better life. We all want that for ourselves and for our families. Beautification projects, cleaner streets, less crime and being a destination of distinction. It will take time, but as those things start to develop and take root, people will feel up-lifted and have a more positive outlook about their future and their community.
You have a career many of us in law enforcement will say is impressive, why take on this big task and start a whole new mission such as becoming mayor in a big city like Paterson?
Because I love my city. It’s as simple as that. As a cop, it’s very tough to just stand by when you see things are wrong and not do something about it. That’s who cops are, it’s what we do. I just see running for mayor as a natural continuation of that process, only on a bigger scale.
If elected mayor, will you continue to both serve as an officer and mayor simultaneously?
No, I would have to retire from the department. I couldn’t do both.
For the officer out there following you today, what message do you have for him or her about why it’s important for them to get involved in politics?
Too many people simply accept their life. You have to live the life you want for yourself. That starts with becoming a police officer for all the right reasons, following your heart and believing in the strength of your own convictions. Police officers have extraordinary opportunities to make a difference in politics and people’s lives on a daily basis. Being engaged in the political process is everyone’s responsibility. Staying involved is an extension of your work, it means you’re a force to reckon with for good and can help move things in the right direction.
What message or tips do you have for law enforcement on how to be better officers for not only their peers but their community?
Stay true to the oath you took and the reasons why you became a police officer in the first place. Remember that feeling you had when you finally made it, how proud you were to wear that uniform, and how proud your family was of you. It’s easy to lose sight of those things as the years roll by. Make a conscious effort to remind yourself every day that we couldn’t have a civil society without the good and honorable work you do. You go out there every tour not so much because you need to but because someone out there NEEDS YOU!!
What message do you have to the Community of Paterson?
I would just like to say to the residents of Paterson that the future is entirely up to us. The end of our story as Americas first planned industrial city has yet to be written. Each decade and each generation that came before us had the opportunity to add their chapter, to tell their story. But how this book ends is ultimately up to us. We are the authors of the final chapter. America loves a good story of redemption, they love the underdog. Paterson is a very special place for many special reasons, most of which are its people. They deserve a better future, they deserve a happy ending. If given the opportunity to be Mayor I will make it my life’s work to continue to work towards making Paterson a destination of distinction, a place people will be proud to call home.
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