This past year, Trenton politics made national news with the corruption conviction of Trenton’s former mayor, Tony Mack, and eventual removal from office 19 days after the jury’s findings. Currently, City Council President George Muschal is serving as Acting Mayor until July when the newly voted-in mayor’s term will commence.

It’s time to start fresh. Trenton’s mayoral election is a non-partisan election and is therefore held in May. Even though none of our current MercerMe contributors live in Trenton proper, we’re watching Trenton’s mayoral campaign with interest. You should be too.

Why It’s Important.

Geographically close to your home. Most of our MercerMe readers are from Hopewell, Pennington and Lawrence. I, living in Hopewell Boro, probably live about as far from Trenton as you can get but still be within Mercer County — I’m 13.9 miles from the center of Trenton. And it’s the state capital. Duh. But beyond “duh,” think about what that means: it defines us as a state. Maybe that and our current governor. But we’re not touching that … whole thing.

Sets the water rates. Trenton Water Works is located in Trenton and provides water to the City of Trenton and parts of Hamilton, Lawrence and Hopewell Township and all of Ewing Township. Here’s an article from the Times of Trenton from December 2013 about artificial increase of water rates between 2005-2008. If the TWW sends you a water bill, the rate is set by the governing body of the City of Trenton.

Economic success effects us. The economic discussion is a long one. Ryan Kennedy of MercerMe recently published an article called “Food Flight” which mapped the mass exodus of (primarily Italian) restaurants from Trenton to the outer reaches of Mercer County.

But despite the loss of iconic restaurants, the climate is optimistic.  Just in the past two weeks, the Times of Trenton have published several opinion pieces applauding existing businesses in Trenton and others offering economic development solutions.

In his piece, “Celebrating the Trenton small businesses that make the capital city great,” John P. Thurber, vice president for public affairs at Thomas Edison State College and guest opinion columnist for the Times of Trenton, offered a passionate response to The Times’ editorial “A love of Trenton” (Feb. 23) which invited readers submit lists of favorite things about our capital city. Mr. Thurber showed that there are still thriving, deeply community-rooted small businesses in Trenton. In his article he writes, “Trenton continues to be home to many entrepreneurs and business owners who share the creativity, persistence and resilience that enable others in the capital city to be successful.”

While others offer that Trenton would benefit from  “new urbanism” or “regional” economic development. In his opinion piece, “Trenton has the raw materials to build bright economic future,” John Boyd Jr., from The Boyd Company Inc. in Princeton, explains that new urbanism essentially is “a movement focused on redevelopment and reuse of underused real estate in our nation’s urban centers, especially those served by mass transit.” Trenton being a hub of railroad transportation could be ripe to attract redevelopment projects.

Success in education effects us.  Even if your children do not attend the Trenton School District, more than 12,000 of your neighbor’s children do, as do the children of your business colleagues, employees and customers.  Good education in the City of Trenton effects everyone.  The next Mayor of the City of Trenton has a chance to chart a course for the City’s school system that moves forward – though the appointment of school board members.  Also,  under the State’s school funding formula – much of the money for the Trenton schools comes by way of the State government, i.e. from outside of the city.

Find out about the candidates. 

Below is the list of mayoral candidates with links to their campaign websites. You can read each candidate’s platform and find out who endorses them in the upcoming election.

  1. James Golden
  2. Eric Jackson
  3. Oliver “Bucky” Leggett (at press time, a website for Mr. Leggett could not be immediately located)
  4. Kathy McBride
  5. Paul Perez
  6. Walker Worthy

“It is important to know the qualifications of candidates and it is important that the candidates have a solid plan on important issues,” Eric Maywar, from Trenton’s Classics Used and Rare Bookstore, tells MercerMe. Mr. Maywar has set up the Facebook page “Trenton Candidate Discussion Group which is open to the public so that undecided voters can get answers from Trenton candidates about the issues important to them. Join the group to find out more about the candidates or post your own questions.

Get Involved.

Find out how each of the candidates will address issues that are important to you and your family.  If you feel strongly, help get him or her elected through volunteering or a contribution.  Ask your town’s party and government officials who they support, and work towards obtaining an endorsement for your candidate.  Tell your friends that choosing the next leader of our Capital City is important to you.  Remind them how it effects everyone in Mercer County and the State.  The voters of Trenton choose the City’s leader – but a strong leader of the City will be a person who will represent the entire region, not just the 85,000 residents of that 8 square miles of land.

National and regional press has perpetuated overwhelming negative Trenton attention. If even a small percentage of Trenton coverage was dedicated to productive and reliable information regarding election candidates, it would feel less like a do-it yourself-er. In the meantime, let’s just get to it and get informed.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.