TRENTON – Former Trenton mayoral candidate Jim Golden endorsed Paul Perez in the June 10 Trenton mayoral runoff election Thursday morning, saying that his erstwhile mayoral race rival is the best man to lead New Jersey’s capital city.
“In the last two weeks, I’ve spent time with Paul Perez. I’ve gotten to know the man, his character, his spirit and his heart,” said Golden, standing alongside Perez at the entrance of Trenton’s Cadwalader Park, across from Joyce Kilmer School. “We’ve had some very deep conversations about who we are as human beings, what we stand for, and what we want to accomplish for the city of Trenton. In my final analysis, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
“Paul Perez is the only independent leader in this race who represents real change and real hope for the city of Trenton,” Golden added. “The drumbeat for change has never been louder. The dissatisfaction with the status quo never more cutting, and it all leads us down the same path. We must reject the failed traditions of the past. we must turn the corner and move Trenton in a new direction.”
Golden’s comments within weeks of the May 13 Trenton municipal election, in which Golden, a former Trenton police director, failed to make it to the June 10 runoff election.
Eric Jackson, director of the Department of Public Works and Urban Development in Plainfield and the former Trenton Public Works director, was the top vote-getter in the May 13 mayoral election with 3,020 votes, or 30 percent. Perez, an armed forces veteran who also worked in law enforcement, garnered 2,134 votes, or 21 percent.
Mayoral candidate Walker Worthy, Jr. received 1,546 votes, or 15 percent, for third place. Golden was right behind Worthy for fourth place with 1,507 votes, or 15 percent.
PolitickerNJ.com reported last week that both Jackson and Perez had met with Golden to seek his endorsement.
Perez expressed his gratitude for Golden’s support at the press conference announcing the endorsement. Perez, who would become Trenton’s first Latino mayor if elected, then made what he felt was an important point regarding the backing of Golden, an African-American.
“This election is not about race,” Perez said. “We want to reduce crime. We want to close the academic achievement gap. We want to create jobs. We want to restore honesty and integrity to our city government.”
Both Golden and Perez alluded to the recent turmoil in Trenton politics revolving around the conviction and subsequent removal of former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack after he was found guilty of bribery and extortion charges in federal court in February.
Whoever becomes the newly-elected mayor in post-Mack era Trenton will have to get their voters to the polls on June 10, just 12 days away. Longtime observers of the Trenton political scene note that around 10,000 to 11,000 voters out of approximately 39,000 registered voters got to the polls during Trenton municipal elections. The total city population numbers about 88,000 people.
Golden’s endorsement, coming in the heart of his West Ward political power base, could augur success for Perez.
“The west is very important,” Perez told PolitickerNJ.com. “There are a lot of voters that need to realize that there is place that they can call home, and home is on the Perez campaign.”
But Julie Roginsky, a political consultant working on the Jackson campaign, felt that Jackson has the support of many true Trentonians.
“Eric Jackson has the support of [state] Senator [Shirley] Turner (D-15), [state] Assemblywoman [Bonnie] Watson Coleman (D-15), [Mercer] County Executive [Brian] Hughes, the majority of the city council, members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, teachers, unions and trades councils and, most importantly, a wide range of Trenton residents because they all know that he is the only candidate who will eradicate violent crime, create jobs, improve schools and restore ethics to City Hall,” Roginsky wrote in an email.
The endorsement sweepstakes has become a critical game in the short time before the June 10 Trenton mayoral runoff, as well as the even-closer June 3 Democratic primary in the Twelfth Congressional District. Trenton voters will close between Watson Coleman, who lives in neighboring Ewing, state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) and state Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17). The CD 12 struggle will arguably be the most closely-watched Congressional primary in the state.
The CD 12 candidates hope to succeed U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12), who announced in February that he would not seek re-election. The district is made up largely of municipalities in Mercer and Middlesex counties, Watson Coleman and Greenstein’s home bases respectively, and also some Somerset and Union County municipalities, including Plainfield.
Rumors are rife as to whether the remaining Trenton mayoral candidates will endorse any of the CD 12 Democratic primary candidates. But regarding whether any of the other defeated Trenton mayoral candidates will back any of the runoff candidates, Perez seemed unconcerned for now.
“Right now. I’m concentrating on the partnership between me and Jim Golden,” Perez said. “This is a very important endorsement. If I were not to get one more, this would be enough for me.”