Perez and Gusciora Trade Barbs in Mayoral Debate at MCCC
In Trenton’s last official debate which was hosted at Mercer County Community College and organized and sponsored by the Trentonian, the two remaining hopefuls for Mayor of Trenton, Paul Perez, and Reed Gusciora plead their cases to the voters in attendance and via internet live stream.
At moments each of the candidates threw jabs to jeers of the crowd of nearly 300 in attendance.
“Shot fired” jeered someone from the peanut gallery as Paul Perez swatted at Gusciora early in front of the packed crowd on the second story of the local community college, dredging the assemblyman’s vote in favor of a 23-cent gas tax hike. “The Transportation Trust Fund. The 23 cent increase. He voted for that. Our senator, Shirley Turner, said no. He said, ‘We probably won’t get reelected for making this decision,’” Perez griped.
Gusciora quipped back “Infrastructure improvements don’t fall from the sky,” he said. “The Transportation Trust Fund was designed so we could make those improvements. Paul thinks we can magically get that money.”
The questions were really no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the capital city and their trouble since the late 1990’s.
They ranged from the city’s failed hotel to illegal immigrants to crumbling neighborhoods and how the city might work with state and county officials to improve conditions in Trenton.
Gusciora pitched his time as a legislature and ties to both the county and state governments.
“I hope to bring my experience of the last 20 years in the legislature to the table and to work with those relationships that I’ve had on the state, county, and local level,” said Gusciora, a municipal prosecutor in Lawrence and Princeton. “My opponent says I’m part of the establishment. What it really is, is relationships and that’s what we need.”
The longtime 15th district legislator said he’s dined over Murphy’s house.
“This Thursday, our legislative delegation is meeting with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who sat next to me in the legislature for the last eight years,” Gusciora said, noting Murphy just signed his UEZ bill, which will cut the sales tax in half for city businesses. “It’s also important to maintain a relationship with the county as well.”
Gusciora’s name-dropping did not sit well with Perez who rang back.
“That’s a lot of nice talk and you had a nice dinner and everything like that,” Perez said. “These connections that you keep referring to have been in place for quite a while and some of them are still getting their feet together.”
Perez said what he brings is “new, different and competent.”
The Mayoral and Council Election is Tuesday, June 12th.