Democrat Muḥammad Hameeduddin Is First For Bergen County; Residents Mostly Agree: 'He's American, Right?'
TEANECK, NJ (CBS) – Voters in Teaneck have chosen the first Muslim mayor in Bergen County.
And while he said his religion wasn't a factor, it's still a major mark of tolerance for a place with a huge Jewish population.
Teaneck has 14 synagogues and lots of stores catering to the town's large Jewish population. And now they have a new mayor, Muḥammad Hameeduddin, who is Muslim.
“What's wrong with that?” asked resident Art Ekelchik. “He's an American citizen. Isn't he? That's all that counts, right.”
“He seems to be somebody who is putting Teaneck first and not necessarily religion first, looking at what's good for the community, which is what he is supposed to do,” resident Shari Baran added.
“A lot of people have a lot to say about the politics of this town. Is it divided, Jewish, non-Jewish? But the people I know who are on the town council, they live in this town and they're deeply committed to this town,” resident Joe Kessler-Godin said.
An employee of a local kosher bakery was the only person CBS 2 HD spoke to with reservations.
“I don't think it's right, but everyone has a chance to be whatever they want. But Muslims are against us Jews and I think it's horrible,” Eddie Loeb said.
The mayor said Teaneck's Jews helped him get elected and that the Jews and non-Jews of Teaneck want the same thing.
“We want to have children. We want a life better for our children. We want to live in a town where they have a good education with a good quality of life, you know. You just want the American dream,” Hameeduddin said.
Budget woes are the big thing on the minds of the mayor and his deputy.
“In this recession the most important thing for us as a council is to listen to the taxpayers who are screaming for tax relief,” Hameeduddin said.
Like most public officials in these tough economic times the mayor is looking for ways to raise a few bucks. One idea he thinks might be profitable is to have parking meters take credit cars.
The mayor — who is a Democrat — said he supports Republican Gov. Chris Christie's call for a 2.5 percent cap on property taxes.