Green says en­dorse­ment did not come with job of­fer

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By David Foster dfos­ter@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @tren­to­nian­david on Twit­ter

TREN­TON » Dar­ren “Free­dom” Green made it no se­cret that he was look­ing to land a job with the city’s next ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The fourth-place fin­isher in this month’s may­oral race pre­vi­ously told The Tren­to­nian he would talk to both Paul Perez and Reed Gus­ciora be­fore mak­ing an en­dorse­ment.

“I want to hear their vi­sion and I want them to hear mine and then where I’m look­ing to go with and the work that I’m look­ing to do,” Green said ear­lier this month af­ter his de­feat. “If they see a place for me in their ad­min­is­tra­tion, I’ll work with them.”

On Wed­nes­day, when Green for­mally en­dorsed Perez at his cam­paign head­quar­ters, the city ac­tivist sang a dif­fer­ent tune.

“When I talked to Reed and when I talked to Mr. Perez, I did not ask for a job,” Green said with Perez by his side. “I sim­ply said I want to con­tinue to do the work my cam­paign was built on in mov­ing this ad­min­is­tra­tion, this city for­ward. There is no ex­pec­ta­tion. He’s made no prom­ises to me.”

Perez also de­nied Green was of­fered a po­ten­tial landing spot while tak­ing a shot at his op­po­nent.

“That just goes to show you that Reed hasn’t been around this city long enough to know the kind of work that we do,” Perez said. “We didn’t strike a deal. We’ve known each other now for sev­eral years. We’ve worked to­gether on dif­fer­ent projects. This is not new. This is pol­i­tics — some­thing that’s new for us when it comes to pol­i­tics. Pol­i­tics is not new to Reed, but work is.”

Gus­ciora, who is a long­time assem­bly­man rep­re­sent­ing the 15th leg­isla­tive dis­trict and works as a mu­nic­i­pal pros­e­cu­tor in Lawrence and Prince­ton while hold­ing down an ad­junct teach­ing job at The College of New Jersey, told The Tren­to­nian on Tues­day that he left with the im­pres­sion Green’s sup­port came with strings at­tached.

“I wasn’t in­clined to make any­body any deals so I wish him luck with Paul Perez,” Gus­ciora (D-Mercer/Hun­ter­don) said. “En­dorse­ments didn’t work in the first round.”

Green, how­ever, was not shy on Wed­nes­day when asked what type of job he would like to hold in the Perez ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I’d like to con­tinue to do what I’ve been do­ing best, which is com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment,” the city ac­tivist said. “The em­pow­er­ment of the ev­ery­day peo­ple.”

Perez and Green — the self-pro­claimed “dy­namic duo” — both pegged them­selves as out­siders in Tren­ton.

“We are at a war and we’ve been at a war for 40 years with the ma­chine, the mech­a­nism, the arm, the po­lit­i­cal gi­ant that has had power, con­trol, and in­flu­ence over every as­pect of this city’s so­cial de­vel­op­ment,” Green said Wed­nes­day. “And we’ve said like the Span­ish com­mu­nity, ‘basta,’ enough.”

Perez has a feel­ing the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment will be pouring money into Gus­ciora’s cam­paign cof­fers ahead of the June 12 runoff elec­tion. Ne­wark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fu­lop both plan to hold fundrais­ers for Gus­ciora.

“We know there’s go­ing to be a lot of money in­vested in what’s go­ing on in this city in the next cou­ple of weeks, but we’re not afraid of that,” said Perez, a busi­ness­man and Army vet­eran who’s worked var­i­ous se­cu­rity po­si­tions in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. “Be­cause we have some­thing that they don’t have and that’s what we have: the peo­ple. The peo­ple know us. When Free­dom and I walk through the West Ward and we go to Joseph­son or Ab­bott (apart­ments), we don’t need an in­tro­duc­tion be­cause they know us. We do the work every day, but we also bring ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence — my ex­pe­ri­ence that I’ve done over the past 30 years that’s truly a match by the peo­ple who want to com­pete against us but they want you to see some­thing dif­fer­ently.”

Green said he was run­ning to win the May race and had no ar­range­ment with Perez be­fore­hand about sup­port if one of them ended up in the runoff.

“We’re now at this place now so ad­just­ments in life have to be made,” he said. “His plat­form lines up with my plat­form and we’re com­mit­ted to mov­ing it for­ward.” Asked if there was any dif­fer­ences in ide­olo­gies be­tween the two men, Green said, “I don’t see any.”

The race is an elec­tion of firsts in Tren­ton.

Perez would be the city’s first Latino mayor and Gus­ciora would have the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the city’s first openly gay mayor.

“This isn’t a con­test or an op­por­tu­nity to elect the first Latino mayor,” Green said. “This isn’t an op­por­tu­nity to elect the first openly gay man. This is an op­por­tu­nity to elect the best can­di­date to lead this city for­ward. I stand here boldly, coura­geously, bril­liantly say­ing to you Paul Perez will not be the mayor of the Latino com­mu­nity or the white com­mu­nity or black com­mu­nity or any other com­mu­ni­ties, he will be the mayor of the en­tire com­mu­ni­ties of this great city of Tren­ton.”


Dar­ren “Free­dom” Green (right) en­dors­ing Tren­ton may­oral can­di­date Paul Perez at his cam­paign head­quar­ters in Tren­ton on Wed­nes­day.

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