Tren­ton coun­cil­man-elect should start talk­ing about pol­icy

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - L.A. Parker Colum­nist

San­ti­ago Ro­driguez sounds like a sore win­ner.

Af­ter claim­ing a City of Tren­ton coun­cil-at-large seat, the most stun­ning vic­tory in all vot­ing cat­e­gories, in fact, Ro­driguez did not re­ceive de­served at­ten­tion, he wastes time pum­mel­ing his van­quished op­po­nents.

Ro­driguez whines that Democrats sought to di­vide the vote and af­fect his chances for vic­tory by run­ning fel­low Puerto Ri­can, Elvin Mon­tero, as if Mon­tero had no say in his per­sonal de­ci­sions.

Ro­driguez com­plains that sev­eral po­lit­i­cal hope­fuls at­tempted to pro­duce a se­cret slate of can­di­dates in or­der to en­hance their chances for vic­tory. Slates, ei­ther made pub­lic or per­formed covertly. Such is the life of pol­i­tics in Tren­ton which ex­ists about a mil­lion miles from good gov­ern­ment.

Bot­tom line, Mr. Ro­driguez? You won, which means you have an abun­dance of work that needs your at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially in the city’s im­pov­er­ished neigh­bor­hood and com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple need re­sources, ac­cess to ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion. Be­ing bilin­gual of­fers Ro­driguez a gi­nor­mous op­por­tu­nity to im­pact thou­sands of lives.

Ro­driguez’ con­stant chat­ter about be­ing dis­missed by the Mercer County Demo­crat ma­chine or his chas­tise­ment of other can­di­dates who formed slates and al­le­giances, as if most did not en­gage in slate build­ing of some sort, were wor­thy com­ments for vic­tory-night speeches but time has moved on and so should the at­large-elect.

With Ro­driguez, Kathy McBride and Jerell Blake­ley hold­ing se­cured at-large-elect seats, one might think that all three would be en­gaged in pre­sen­ta­tions of ideas, strate­gies and out­looks about how they in­tend to de­liver re­vi­tal­iza­tion to all cor­ners of Tren­ton.

Just for the record, 22-per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers par­tic­i­pated in the May 8 elec­tion, proof pos­i­tive that pol­i­tics has failed mis­er­ably, proof pos­i­tive that what­ever mes­sages be­ing of­fered found min­i­mal res­onation with res­i­dents.

May­oral can­di­date Paul Perez claimed 2,536 as the top vote getter as his run off op­po­nent Reed Gus­ciora claimed sec­ond and Walker Wor­thy took third. Just over 9,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in the May 8 elec­tion.

Elec­tion num­bers gen­er­ally im­prove dur­ing a sec­ond elec­tion although 4,000 votes could win the may­oral elec­tion. With al­most 40,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers in Tren­ton, al­most half the city’s en­tire pop­u­la­tion, such a vic­tory would mean that 10 per­cent of vot­ers sided with the win­ner.

Not ex­actly a mandate as vot­ers have checked out fol­low­ing a fed­eral cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion of 2010 may­oral win­ner Tony Mack, a lack­lus­ter in­terim may­oral per­for­mance by South Ward Coun­cil­man Ge­orge Muschal fol­lowed by an in­aus­pi­cious per­for­mance by his suc­ces­sor, Mayor Eric Jack­son.

Tren­ton res­i­dents re­main starved for lead­ers across the board to de­liver not only a worth­while mes­sage but also to take on the tough is­sues.

Po­lit­i­cal pun­dits had pre­dicted a ro­bust cam­paign that would de­liver in­ter­est­ing de­bates and in­sights from seven may­oral can­di­dates and a cou­ple dozen city coun­cil cam­paigns.

That never oc­curred as dis­cus­sions about per­son­al­i­ties be­came more im­por­tant than talk­ing about crime, law en­force­ment, a closed ho­tel, shut­tered li­braries, a po­lice force dom­i­nated by non-res­i­dent Cau­casian males, blight, down­town re­de­vel­op­ment, early ed­u­ca­tion, un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents, cor­rup­tion and a litany of other is­sues.

Win­ning elec­tions re­mains a thrilling ex­er­cise but what mat­ters most af­ter the cock­tails and cel­e­bra­tions con­nects to im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­grams and ideas that will change this cap­i­tal city.

So, please, Mr. Ro­driguez. Stop talk­ing about your hurt feel­ings and get to work.

As a res­i­dent of this city, per­sonal in­ten­tions re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing with all elected of­fi­cials, law en­force­ment, busi­ness own­ers and cit­i­zens to im­prove the qual­ity of life for all res­i­dents.

L.A. Parker is a Tren­to­nian colum­nist. Reach him at la­parker@tren­to­nian.com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter@ la­parker6.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTOS

Top from left: Nathaniel McCray, Elvin Mon­tero and Kathy McBride Bot­tom from left: Rachel Cogsville-Lat­timer, Jerell Blake­ley and San­ti­ago Ro­driguez

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