Friday, July 24, 2009

Two boys, two days, two Trentons

What a wonderful feeling to see the smiling face of 10 year old Alphonso Jones II beaming out from the front page of the Trentonian on Wednesday.

Young Master Jones, an aspiring musician and stellar 5th grade student at Trenton’s Patton J. Hill School has been tagged to play the lead in “The Lion King” in New York City beginning in September.

Uplifting and positive stories like this are what keeps the hope alive that Trenton can and will turn itself around and live up to its fullest potential. And it’s not just the rare occurrence of a10 year old going to Broadway.

There are many kids, adults too, leading exemplary lives; Trentonians working hard to better themselves and their community. People taking pride in themselves and striving to do the right thing; givers as opposed to takers; this is the Trenton many of us know.

A day later, the other “Trenton” came back into focus. On Thursday, the police released the information that a 15 year old was arrested and charged with the fatal beating of 56 year old Frank Rivera, Jr. The youth, we are told, took the man out with one punch during a robbery back in February. The victim succumbed to his injuries June 29.

This is the Trenton many of our suburban friends and family see: a city where youth runs wild in the streets 24/7; where violence lurks at every corner and where life is cheap.

There is no denying this face of Trenton. But there can be no denying the other face either.

There is more good about Trenton than bad. There are more good people in Trenton than bad.

Over the next several months there will be real opportunity to set the city’s derailed dreams back on track. Beginning with the special election in November to fill the South Ward Council seat being vacated by Jim Coston, and continuing through the May 2010 elections, the people can push aside those that have misgoverned and misguided the city to it’s present state of disarray.

There will be many candidates for the eight elected positions, some with familiar names and some who seemingly materialized out of nowhere. It’s up to the electorate to weed out the ones without legitimate leadership experience and the ones who’ve said a lot and done little over their years in “public life.” It’s time to choose representatives not by ethnicity or neighborhood, but by competency and conscience.

Choose wisely, Trentonians. Choose wisely and show our neighbors that the Trenton family is more like that of Alphonso Jones II…hard working, caring, and proud of real achievement. Show them that we care enough to better ourselves and our community by providing an example to follow so there are no more 15 year olds arrested for homicide.

We are not suggesting that elected officials past, present, or future are responsible for our out of control youth or Trenton's crime issues. We do believe however that these officials by and large have failed to manage the city in a responsible and successful way that has permitted the quality of life to spiral downward and thus contributed directly to the sense of hopelessness in Trenton. Further, the voters have continued to elect the same representatives who have failed their constituents term after term.

This is a call for all Trentonians to take a keen interest in moving this city forward by making informed,reasoned decisions in choosing elected representatives that will restore pride, polish and professionalism to the capital city.

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