TRENTON – The probable retirement of Mayor Doug Palmer next year has sent all would-be successors into scramble mode early in New Jersey's capital city.
At the top of the public heap of next generation leaders stands 44-year-old Council President Paul Pintella, a 16-year veteran of the city council who has served as chief of the governing body for two terms.
"It may be premature to say the mayor's not running, but if he decided to run, I would still consider running," said Pintella,a Trenton native who works as anaffirmative action specialist with the state."I am in the process of testing and polling my name out there and I feel comfortable saying I will be a candidate."
He anticipates making a formal announcement sometime before the end of the year.
Pintella said his base of support in the city goes back to the work his late father did with the Urban League of Metro Trenton.
"I used the example of my father to establish grassroots level support," said the council president.
He's also been a longtime ally of Palmer's, whom he credits for helping to bring the Marriott to Trenton, revitalizing North Trenton with a new park and new housing, and transitioning the city from mostly poor and affordable housing to affordable and market rate.
"Who would not want the mayor's endorsement?" Pintella asked. "He's had five good terms and built a very good base of support."
Criticized as a rubber stamp for Palmer,the council president said he believes the veteran has served with integrity – and promises to do the same if he runs, and if he's elected.
"I'm not for sale," Pintella said. "Quid pro quo? We don't do that here. We don't operate that way down here. I love this town. I've lived here my whole life. The issues here are no different than they are in other cities in this state, it's just time for new faces. At the same time, people are comfortable with who they know and who they trust."
Other possible or probable candidates for mayor of Trenton include John Harmon, head ofthe African American New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; civic activist Patricia Stewart; Board of Education Vice President Alexander Brown; former mayoral candidate Frank Weeden; former Freeholder Tony Mack;Freeholder Keith Hamilton; Councilman Manny Segura; and Councilwoman AnnetteHorton Lartigue.