Sunday, December 29, 2013

Back to the future

Looking past United States vs. Mack et al
Monday, January 6, 2014. That is the date that has been designated as the start of the trial of Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack. That trial, expected to tale a month or so to conclude, will serve as the denouement in the farce that has played out in the three and half years since Mack took office. The proceedings will bring to a close the three ring circus that has to be, hands down, the worst administration in Trenton’s 300+ year old history.

While the bettors, hecklers and staunch defenders ready themselves for the big finale, the cast of the next show to hit the stage of Trenton politics will be assembling in the wings.

On Thursday, January, 2, 2014, the office of the municipal clerk is likely to be overrun with those seeking elected office in the May elections. That is the first day that the mayoral and council wannabes, along with incumbents, are able to pull their paperwork and initiate their candidacy for public office.

At the outset, the armchair handicappers are calling for a full ballot. As of eight or nine months ago, there were already five individuals who had announced their intention to run for mayor. That’s half the size of the field from 2010, but there are likely to be one or two more names in the hat before all is said and done.

On the council side, filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission indicate that the six of the seven current office holders are running again.
Challengers to the current council are already surfacing. Currently, the NJ ELEC website shows three individuals have filed paperwork indicating they will run in 2014. Another has announced to some individuals that he will run and at least two more are presumed to be candidates. Again, expect more names to be added to the list once the process gets underway.

Filing with NJ ELEC and filling out paperwork in the municipal clerk’s office is not all it takes to get on the ballot. The first big hurdle for all candidates is to obtain enough nomination petitions equal to 1% of the registered voters in the district they seek to represent (city wide for mayoral and council at large candidates; respective ward for those seeking a ward seat).

The deadline for filing the petitions is March 10. That gives the candidates just about two months to capture valid signatures from registered voters.
Voters, for their part, can sign only one petition for mayor and their ward council candidate, three for at large council candidates.

The electorate has other responsibilities besides just signing a petition and voting. Before they do either, they need to ask themselves, “Is this person truly fit for the office he or she seeks.”

This is where the weeding out process starts.

Don’t be afraid to start asking questions of the candidates (or their representatives) who are seeking your approval for them to be on the ballot. Start the vetting process now, the city you save may be your own.


One of the problems the city has been having in elections is low voter turnout. Less than 1/3 of registered voters voted in the 2010 mayoral election and the June runoff.
Rudy Rodas had a guest Op Ed in the Times on Friday, December 27, 2013. It is a thoughtful piece that encourages mayoral candidates to address the concerns of the diverse groups that make up Trenton’s population. It’s good advice that all candidates, incumbents and challengers alike, should heed.


Everyone agrees: Trenton has great potential. Its location, its history; its manageable size are all plusses.
Why, then, has the capital city struggled so much of late?

The city seems to lack vision, a sense of innovation. We’ve become too addicted to handouts from the state, county and federal governments and then complain we don’t get enough money. We have not investigated ways to improve the city’s bottom line; ways to create real economic development that gives the city more ratable and more job opportunities.
To date, none of the announced mayoral candidates have set forth any real concrete plans to pull Trenton out of its tale spin. Maybe they are being cautious, not wanting to reveal their hands too early in the process. Or maybe they are stumped for real innovative ways of moving the city forward.

Perhaps one of them will reach out to the recently announcedBloomberg Associates for help.

Headed by outgoing NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and seeded with members of his staff, Bloomberg Associates is offering urban consulting services FREE OF CHARGE to other cities.

Yes, the three term mayor has done some controversial things, but he appears to be leaving New York City in as good, if not better shape, as he found it. It might not hurt to at least give his group a listen. The price is certainly one that Trenton can afford.

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