Andre Sayegh was elected the first Lebanese-American mayor in Paterson, New Jersey during a Tuesday election, officials announced.
Sayegh, a Democrat, garnered 41 percent of the vote in a six-candidate field. His closest competitor Alex Mendez received 21 percent.
According to his online biography, Sayegh, 44, was a Paterson councilman and history teacher before he announced his bid for mayor. He ran on a ‘One Paterson’ platform, where he promised to promote diversity and connect with a cross-section of groups.
Sayegh, who speaks fluent Arabic, was born to a Lebanese father and Syrian mother, the Bergen Record reports. Many Lebanese and Syrian immigrants came to Paterson in the late 1800s to work in textile mills along the Passaic River.
Samer Khalaf, national president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Sayegh’s victory meant a lot for the Paterson area, which has a large population of Arab Americans.
Sayegh Wins Paterson – Insider NJ – https://t.co/U0bV2XzYR1
— Andre Sayegh (@andresayegh) May 9, 2018
“Here you have an old Arab community that’s been around for over 100 years,” Khalaf told the Bergen Record. “We never had a councilman until Andre won his first term. Now we have a mayor.”