Friday, January 15, 2010

The wrong way to select a candidate

It is apparently not bad enough that we have nearly a dozen candidates vying for the Mayor’s chair in the upcoming Trenton city elections.

Now we have to add race and ethnicity into the mix.

An article in today’s Times, reports that Garvey School Principal, Baye Kemit, will hold a candidate’s forum but only for those candidates who he feels “have strong support among African-Americans.”

"Manny Segura, in the African-American community, has not pushed himself enough," Kemit said. "He is largely Latino-supported. It's been my contention that he needs to make his agenda known to African-Americans."

Here’s the problem.

The campaign season is upon us.

The last thing we need is this kind of thinking in the upcoming elections.

Trenton faces a myriad of problems, none of which are specific to any one race or ethnic group.

Every one of the candidates (city council included) has enough of a struggle ahead of them. Certainly there are individuals running for office who we can dismiss out of hand, but with good reason. Past performance, lack of experience or leadership skills, questionable ethics are all valid reasons to discount a candidate. But none of those are race or ethnicity specific.

Being arbitrarily disqualified because of their ethnic background and/or that of their (real or perceived) supporters is offensive and just plain wrong. In fact, excluding a candidate from an audience to which he “needs to make his agenda known” is totally the opposite of what needs to be done.

Our city is at a critical point in its history.

The leaders selected in the May election (and likely June runoff) will not only need to have a sensible plan to guide Trenton for the next four years, they will have to be prepared to pay the wages for the sins and omissions of the current administration.

Let us not select the next Mayor and Council by skin color; religious affiliation; gender or any other superficial identifiers.

We need to look beyond all of that to the role each candidate has played in shaping the city’s fortunes these past two or four or eight or 16 years. We need to hear their ideas and measure their solutions based solely on how they will impact all Trentonians. We need to judge the candidates on whether or not they will be effective representatives able to turn this city around and not on whom they look like, sound like, or pray with.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Brother!

Anonymous said...

It's scary to think that this guy is charge of educating children!

Anonymous said...

If that principal were a white guy, he'd be so fired by now, right? I'm not making light of the struggles faced by African-Americans, but what a double standard.

Anonymous said...

I thought they weren't inviting Segura because they knew they wouldn't understand a single word the guy said.