February 5, 2023

3 minutes read

PATERSON — Most of the 40 applicants for the city clerk’s vacancy — which comes with a maximum salary of $130,000 — do not have key qualifications required for the position, officials said.

Paterson’s last employee, Sonia Gordon, retired in November, having held the job since December 2014.

Only six of the 40 people who have applied to succeed Gordon have received or are in the process of receiving a state Registered Municipal Clerk certificate, Paterson Business Administrator Kathleen Long said.

“I’m trying to figure out why some of them applied,” Councilwoman Ruby Cotton said, referring to the lack of civil service credentials from most candidates.

Cotton and three other council members — Maritza Davila, Alex Mendez and Luis Velez — have been appointed to a committee that reviews applications and selects which of the job seekers will receive interviews, Long said.

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“This job is not easy,” said Velez. “We have to make sure we get someone who is qualified.”

However, some council members have criticized the city’s handling of the search for the new clerk. Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms said she had not received any official reports on the field of applicants and their credentials. Mimms said she only learned the committee was reviewing the applications when Velez commented on them during a recent meeting.

“The process has to be transparent,” Mimms said. “It has to be a fair trial.”

Paterson solicited applications for the position twice — once in early November and a second time in December.

“Paterson regularly expands job postings to ensure a large and qualified candidate pool,” Long said when asked about the second posting.

Velez expressed disappointment that many of the applicants came from outside.

“I want someone from Paterson,” he said.

Cotton asked why the city is going through the entire application process. She said she thinks Paterson’s current assistant clerk, Jacqueline Murray, should be promoted to the top position. Murray has worked in the clerk’s office since 2012. Officials said she was among the applicants.

“She’s the most qualified,” Cotton said.

However, other council members said the city must go through the steps to apply. Velez said some people had spread false rumors about the employee’s position.

“There is no backroom deal,” Velez claimed.

As outlined in the New Jersey Civil Service Commission job description, the state requires employees to complete four courses to obtain the Registered Municipal Clerk certificate, which most Paterson applicants lack. Officials noted that state regulations allow Paterson to appoint someone as a clerk who does not have the certificate, so long as that person receives the credential within three years.

Joe Malinconico is Editor of Paterson Press.

Email: [email protected]

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