Trenton: The Trenton Post online forum: mayoral race
TheTrentonpost.com online forum: Trenton Mayor
Read the candidates questions and answers below ⬇️
Paul Perez VS Reed Gusciora
The Trenton post sent each of the 10 remaining candidates running in the city’s June 12, runoff election a questionnaire concerning a variety of issues facing our city, and to also give us a brief description about their campaigns in 300 words or less
The candidates were given till June 2, to answer & return the questionnaire
The mayoral candidates were given 8 questions to answer those answers are published below
We would like to thank all of the candidates who took the time to participate in theTrentonpost.com online forum.
Reed Gusciora for Mayor
For The Trenton Post
Questions for Mayoral Candidates
Answers Submitted Via Email
i. Reports have been issued of homeless individuals soliciting motorists at intersections throughout the city and urinating in public. What plan do you have to eliminate the nuisance and accommodate the homeless?
a. We need to ensure that homeless individuals are not without community help and compassion. We are one city, with one goal. In order to accommodate the homeless, we must re-integrate them into our society. There is no easy fix. Anyone of us could be one bill away from poverty and despair. All too often those with mental illness or addiction issues are left to their own devices. Treatment is essential. Ultimately, a city wide 3-1-1 phone system can help us to track quality of life complaint and we can also aid those individuals who need extra community help.
ii. There remains a difference of opinion throughout the city for correcting the problem of operating and maintaining the Trenton Water Works. Do you believe that the City of Trenton should continue to operate the utility, or should it be sold to a private entity?
a. Absolutely Trenton Water Works (TWW) should be a city asset. Notwithstanding, we need to maintain the proper staffing levels so that we can continue to offer the water quality which residents of the city and surrounding communities expect. I also believe that TWW should partner with county and city vocational students so that they can obtain necessary certifications to work at TWW. Moreover, since the TWW has been ordered by the State to complete a “covering” on the reservoir we should look to add a solar field on top to not only generate electricity but pay for the project itself through generated revenue.
iii. Many motorists are complaining of unexpected auto repair bills resulting from the poor condition of many of the city streets. What is your plan for identifying and obtaining the funding needed to correct these conditions?
a. Trenton needs to get back to the basics of competent administration and leadership. It is inexcusable that the city failed to apply for the State’s Transportation Trust Funding (TTF) to repair potholes and make other infrastructure improvements in the city. That said, quality of life complaints could be tracked with a city 3-1-1 phone system, where public works can analyze and prioritize road repair. In addition, the city should work with the state to provide money to repair and replace roads around state buildings. While at the same time work with county officials to provide for road repair and replacement of arteries around county courts as a cost-saving measure to city residents.
iiii. The public library system has been neglected for over six years, with three branches having been shuttered and the books stored there damaged from the elements and years of neglect. What are your views concerning a public library system? What plans do you have to address this problem?
a. The Library budget used to be around $8 million per year; today it is around $2 million. We need to do a better job seeking grant funding on a national and state level to make improvements to the main library and have full staffing levels and quality services. That said, we need to reach out to the non-profits to see if we can collaborate to reopen the branches. For instance, we could foster ties to a non-profit to reopen the Briggs Library in the East Ward by assisting in maintenance funding. The non-profit could then offer after-school programming.
v. Following the recent tax increase and the deleterious effect it has had on commercial property owners; how do you plan to invigorate the local economy and attract new businesses where there has been an exodus.
a. While we cannot afford to redo the recent tax reevaluation that left both winners and losers, commercial property owners should be assisted through the tax appeal process. That said the city needs to offer the competence in leadership for economic development and help attract outside investors. My Urban Enterprise Zone bill, recently signed by Governor Murphy, will ensure that new and existing businesses have ample advantages over their counterparts outside of Trenton.
vi. The moral of the Trenton Police and Fire Departments have suffered under past administrations. What issues have you identified that should be addressed? How do you plan to promote unity and cooperation among the rank and file?
a. It is my understanding that city hall has not been receptive to suggestions from these departments. I will help to foster relationships between cops, firefighters, and the community which they serve. I want to establish a task force with city youth, police officers, and non-profits to help tackle to issue of gun violence in our city. Both the police and fire department need to be in constant contact. Lifting Trenton will be a team effort. Unity and cooperation are the product of ample communication, which can only be established if the city executive is receptive to both organisations.
vii. Many properties throughout the City are in a serious site of disrepair. Do you have any plans to improve code enforcement? If so, what are they?
a. I will rehabilitate and rebuild 1,000 homes in my first 1,000 days in office. My plan allocates readily available state funding, along with local contractors and vocational students in order to keep the money and labor in Trentonian’s hands. My administration will also use new software (Gov Pilot) to track and maintain payment records. We cannot allow money to slip through the cracks. Every vacant property owner should be held accountable.
viii. What are your qualifications for the office of Mayor of Trenton?
a. For the past twenty two years I have served as the assemblyman of the 15th legislative district which Trenton is comprised of. During that time I have introduced and passed legislation that has impacts the City of Trenton the have focused on city youth, gun violence, and economic growth. I have worked with my colleagues at the statehouse to ensure that our children can have breakfast while at school. I have served as a municipal prosecutor for the city providing key insight on how to enforce laws but also taught me that people such be ensured a second chance. I also helped revise expungement eligibility for those convicted of crimes in their youth. I sponsored legislation to make drug treatment centers more available to inmates as a means to fight the ever-present opioid crisis. Most recently, I sponsored the law that extended the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) designation for the Capital City, which was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy,
Below Paul Perez’s answers ⬇️
PAUL PEREZ for Mayor
For The Trenton Post
Questions for Mayoral Candidates
Answers Submitted Via Email
1. Reports have been issued of homeless individuals soliciting motorists at intersections throughout the city and urinating in public. What plan do you have to eliminate the nuisance and accommodate the homeless?
We want residents and visitors to freely travel throughout our city without being harassed or witnessing individuals who use our parks, alleys and streets as restrooms. We must first understand that homelessness is an economic issue, a public safety issue and a health issue often associated with mental illness, prostitution and drug and alcohol abuse. Many of these individuals come from outside of the city and engage in illegal acts openly and with little fear of consequences. These types of issues will be addressed within a two-pronged approach:
• Enforcement with the hope of deterring these types of activities from taking place. Special operations will be conducted and highlighted in the media. Even though the Supreme Court has basically said cities can’t curb free speech with panhandling laws, to the extent possible we can more vigorously enforce public health and safety issues.
• Working collaboratively with social service organizations to provide appropriate, additional assistance to these individuals as they attempt to break free from their addictions and lifestyles. In particular, we will establish relationships with agencies to keep them informed of arrests and citations involving their clients, so they can target such support to those most in need.
2. There remains a difference of opinion throughout the city for correcting the problem of operating and maintain the Trenton Water Works. Do you believe that the City of Trenton should continue to operate the utility, or should it be sold to a private entity?
Trenton should not sell one of its most valuable resources, but I do believe that we owe it to our citizens and those who purchase water from us to give them a clean, reliable product. We also must communicate openly and consistently about problems in the TWW and implement effective, long-term solutions. We will take all legal steps possible to not only improve this system but make sure public safety is never in jeopardy.
3. Many motorists are complaining of unexpected auto repair bills resulting from the poor condition of many of the city streets. What is your plan for identifying and obtaining the funding needed to correct these conditions?
I drive these streets too and get frustrated like everyone else. The first answer is to get our fair share of the 23 cent a gallon gas tax. Had Trenton kept its eye on the ball and submitted a grant request, we would currently have more than $600,000 from the State
Transportation Trust Fund to specifically address these issues. That will not happen in my administration. We will get these funds and find other sources to give us the tools to do the job. The State of New Jersey also has a responsibility to repair the streets adjacent to its 50% of the property stock in the city. We will encourage them to fulfill their responsibilities.
4. The public library system has been neglected for over six years, with three branches having been shuttered and the books stored there damaged from the elements and years of neglect. What are your views concerning a public library system? What plans do you have to address this problem?
The Trenton Public Library has a history of budget cuts which forced the closure of the four library branches over the years. The Trenton Public Library is the oldest in New Jersey’s history and the second oldest in the nation since year 1750. The Briggs, East Trenton, Skelton and Cadwalader branches have all been closed down due to the cut backs in funding over the years. I feel that library services are parts of the bridges that connect the community to literacy, guide learning and inspire curiosity. Currently the main branch circulates over 150,000 items annually and provides computer and internet usage to residents of the city. My plans are to restructure the allocation of funds in the budget for the library and recruit and expand the membership of the Friends of the Library to engage the community in the importance of preserving and rebuilding a strong library system in our city. We must also increase and improve library services to Trenton residents with physical, visual or reading disabilities. Also, maintain and support library services that houses state and federal documents, genealogy, and legislative history.
5. Following the recent tax increase and the deleterious effect it has had on commercial property owners; how do you plan to invigorate the local economy and attract new businesses where there has been an exodus.
We will adopt a philosophy of being attentive “stewards” of the economic condition of this community. Under my administration, the city administration will embrace and not run from its role as a steward of community resources—tax revenue, grants, properties, parks and authority—to advance the economic vitality of the community and its residents. We will do this through a multi-level strategy that includes improving the internal workings of city government so it can foster and guide appropriate development overall, and specifically in the areas of business creation (both small and large), recruitment of new employers, the promotion of home-ownership, the facilitation of investment and an increase in property values, thus ensuring that all residents—owners and tenants alike—are provided with safe, healthy safe housing and appropriate high quality municipal services.
We will facilitate development on behalf of all residents and investors in the city; a development grounded in the basic tenants of “smart growth”, with an eye to the unique set of circumstances Trenton has to offer. We need to market Trenton projects to developers sensitive to the scale Trenton’s assets. It alone cannot (and should not) be an investment engine for economic growth. However, city government has the responsibility
to leverage and coordinate its authority and the investments of its current homeowners, external investors, financial institutions, employers, and other governmental entities.
My administration’s vision of growth for our city will be guided by community-based planning that supports the quality of life of its current residents and homeowners, preserves their neighborhoods and diverse housing stock, and enhances their quality of life in the areas of healthy living, recreation spaces and a resilient economy. Simultaneously, it will promote Trenton as a regional epicenter drawing on its location as a transit hub, well positioned on the Delaware River and as a historical destination.
6. The morale of the Trenton Police and Fire Departments has suffered under past administrations. What issues have you identified that should be addressed? How do you plan to promote unity and cooperation among the rank and file?
I have spoken directly with numerous police officers and firefighters and agree with this question’s premise that both of these critical departments of municipal government have rank and file morale issues. These issues, which have intensified over the past two decades, have a number of root causes including reductions in force, a lack of sufficient state-of-the–art training, appropriate certification from a recognized certifying agency and effective leadership focused on building unity and cooperation among rank and file employees. My plans to improve both workforces will create stronger cooperation among employees and build the type of professional pride that will enhance personal interactions and teamwork. Specifically, we want all involved in public safety to become an integral part of the community through outreach, interaction, and improved understanding. We want to make sure partnerships with educational, health and social service organizations are fully formalized and integrated into Trenton’s overall public safety plan. We must ensure training, equipment and resources are increased to support improved performance in all areas of public safety. Part of the unity and cooperation issue is when we give priority to outreach in recruiting local residents to serve in public safety positions while simultaneously expanding diversity of the forces to more closely reflect the composition of the city’s communities.
In sum, our goal is that the City of Trenton improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public safety services to promote the overall well-being of our city, through competent management, an integrated both departments with a specific and improved public safety plan, and by creating partnerships with the community to improve the lives of those who live, work, and play in the city.
7. Many properties throughout the City are in a serious state of disrepair. Do you have any plans to improve code enforcement? If so, what are they?
Yes, my plans have been created with thoughtful input from experts in the field of improving urban blight. First, we will make Trenton a full participant in the New Jersey Abandoned Properties Act using the authority granted under this legislation to take possession and appropriately dispose of properties that constitute a risk to the social and economic health of Trenton’s downtown and in Trenton’s neighborhoods. Secondly, we will enforce Trenton’s Vacant Property Registration Ordinance (VPRO) and identify and use administrative authority to compel compliance with the ordinance and collect fees and fines as allowed by the ordinance. .
My administration will provide a regular update of the list of vacant properties in Trenton by making the list searchable and encouraging residents, neighborhood associations, realtors, municipal Inspections Department personnel to offer electronically additions and deletions from the list. Finally, we will foster safe upgrades and improvement in all properties by streamlining inspection permit processes, including expansion of Inspection Department hours, and expedited permit fees schedules with increased rates for developers and contractors.
8. What are your qualifications for the office of Mayor of Trenton?
First and most importantly, I am not a politician. I am what Trenton needs most in this era of its history…a seasoned proven executive, administrator and skilled problem-solver, with extensive experience in the areas of crisis management, law enforcement, emergency management, budgeting, personnel selection, supervision and evaluation and government administration. I have more than 27 years of experience in devising strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals and priorities using available resources. My background also includes being part of senior leadership of government agencies and being accountable for the outcomes of public and private agency programs and initiatives. My skills represent areas that are critical for the 48th Mayor of Trenton to possess including: budget preparation and management; information technology services supervision; logistics; human capital; contracts and procurement; governance and policy formation; and, evaluating and building infrastructure. Most importantly, Trenton is the city of my birth, childhood and education. Following military and government service, I returned to Trenton and purchased both a home and a business building to show my faith in our Capital City’s future.