Trenton voters are left with just two candidates, down from seven, for their mayoral election on June 12, who debated on several topics Sunday evening including political relationships, sanctuary status, and business development.
In a debate at Mercer County Community College lasting almost an hour and a half, Reed Gusciora and Paul Perez fundamentally disagreed on whether an established representative or an anti-establishment businessman would be better for Trenton’s future.
Involved in politics for 22 years, Gusciora is currently an assemblyman in New Jersey’s General Assembly. He is on the committees for Environment and Solid Waste, Labor, Joint Committee on the Public Schools, and is the Vice-Chair of Health and Senior Services.
However, Perez is not lacking in experience either. A veteran and the president of his own company, PZ Energy and Electric LLC, Perez’s campaign touts several private and public organizations the candidate has organized and lead.
“What’s been happening in the past 30 years is we haven’t gotten it right when it comes to qualified leadership,” Perez said in his opening statement. “I bring that to the table. I’m ready in this moment to be your mayor.”
“I hope to bring my experience over the last 20 years in the legislature to the table, and to work with those relationships I’ve had at the state, county, and local levels,” responded Gusciora. “My opponent says I’m part of the establishment. It is really relationships, and that’s what we need.”
Within ten minutes of the opening of the heated debate, the moderator stopped both candidates.
“I need to have a Mr. Rogers moment here, please,” said moderator Alvin Haywood, referencing the television show known for its focus on kind behavior towards others. “Can we be neighbors?”
For enhancing Trenton economically, Perez advocated for, with some modernization, making the city a destination location.
“If we could find space and build a small scale Williamsburg-type village, we could capitalize on the historic value of this city,” Perez said.
Gusciora viewed a recently closed hotel as the key to Trenton’s revitalization.
“Trenton has to have a hotel,” Gusciora stated. “We have a Starbucks and now we just need the hotel. We all need to make sure that the downtown is an economic, viable lifeblood to the rest of the city.”
Both candidates posited similar positions on supporting Trenton as a sanctuary city and removing marijuana convictions from criminal records.
The full debate, sponsored by The Trentonian and Mercer County Community College, is available to watch on YouTube.