Green says endorsement did not come with job offer
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.