As someone who has written about the city of Trenton for more than 20 years, I can say that politics in the city has always been a snake pit. And last week, the viper-infested swamp threatened to become even more contemptible and lethal when it was announced two Trenton councilwomen—Kathy McBride and Robin Vaughn, will challenge incumbent Mayor Reed Gusciora for the top spot in the city.
Embattled City council President McBride and disgraced councilwoman Robin Vaughn are among the possible candidates that will run against Gusciora for Mayor in a November election–according to reports in The Trentonian, the city’s newspaper, and Trenton Orbit, an enormously popular website that monitors everything in and around the city. McBride and Vaughn have been frequent critics of Gusciora and have been involved in countless public and embarrassing spectacles with the Mayor, constituents, and the press. For example, potty mouth Vaughn was tape-recorded cursing, using homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic and anti-Latino slurs; accused of assaulting her sister in a parking lot and cursing a disabled man.
And last week, McBride was named in another lawsuit–this time by the Trenton Public School District– for failing to sign off on a $24.2 million tax levy. The school district filed suit against the council for the sloppy and inept handling of the pivotal piece of legislation–it has languished in the committee for more than a month. It marks another in a series of legal and court battles she has been involved in during her rocky term as president.
Under McBride’s weak and unfocused tenure and Vaughn’s on-going scandalous antics, the Trenton City Council has been called one of the most incompetent, ineffective, and divisive city councils in New Jersey by political pundits, business leaders, and journalists. For months, the council has been divided and stalled the progress of several key initiatives, with McBride, Vaughn, and former city employee Sonya Wilkins frequently voting against and clashing with other members, including Marge Caldwell Wilson, George Muschal, and George Harrison.
However, nearly two dozen people have already announced bids to run for three-at-large seats on the Trenton City Council. Early favorites among the contenders for the spots are Michael Ranallo, Alex Bethea, and Yazminelly Gonzalez. Odd ball long shots include Trenton activist Divine Allah and someone named Cassandra Candaya–who’s that? Allah is an ex-Black panther who ran for a council seat in 2010. He lost to current North Ward council member Caldwell Wilson.
“Neither one is a leader, and both would be bad for Trenton,” one resident posted. Another said, “They can’t even hold a proper council meeting…how the hell could they handle being in the mayor’s seat? And finally, resident Rob Placer said, “Ugh! I will do EVERYTHING in my power to see to it that neither Vaughn nor McBride are ever elected to public office in Trenton again. They are horrible!” The city of Trenton will hold a general election for Mayor on November 8, 2022, with a filing deadline for the election on September 5, 2022.