As soon as I heard, read, and confirmed that Reed Gusciora had been re-elected as mayor of the city of Trenton and some members of the most dysfunctional City Council in the state had been voted out, I shouted, “Yes!” I did a backflip and handstand to celebrate the great news!! Granted, I just returned home from the local hospital Emergency Room (ER). However, some things are worth celebrating no matter what!!
Gusciora won more than 70% of the vote and effectively tripped, trampled, and trounced his three competitors, City Council President Kathy McBride—a distant second–councilwoman Robin Vaughn a distant third, and Trenton Housing Commissioner Cherie Garrette finished last. Two ward council seats—the North and South Wards, will head to a runoff in mid-December. In the north, Jennifer Williams will face off against Algernon Ward. In the south, Damian Malave will challenge Jenna Kettenburg.
Regardless of what happens in those two runoffs, there is no question that Gusciora will have a far more effective, competent, and accommodating City Council—something that has been glaringly absent for the past four years. However, the race in the South Ward was fascinating. One of the candidates, Evangeline Ugorji, got in trouble with election officials for submitting nomination petitions that included signatures from dead people. Allegations of voter fraud quickly surfaced. In what was far from a dead heat, Ugorji finished dead last among her competitors, receiving just 102 votes. No one knows for sure how many votes came from people buried at the Riverview Cemetery in Trenton.
Another race that many Trentonians and others watched closely was the East Ward. Councilman Joseph Harrison quickly swept aside a feeble attempt for a permanent spot on the Council by Sonya Wilkins. She was appointed to fill a vacant at-large seat in February. Wilkins was closely aligned with McBride and Vaughn and often sided with them in opposing initiatives from the mayor. Some believe Wilkins blind loyalty and lack of a backbone cost her the election, as Harrison garnered nearly 60 percent of the vote to Wilkins’ 28 percent.
And in the West Ward, Teska Frisby thumped her competitors—garnering about 55 percent of the votes over competitors Atalaya Armstrong and Mary Horne. Frisby is seen as a rising star and is becoming the “new darling of the city of Trenton.” It’s a title once held by Kathy McBride but has long since fizzled and faded away somewhere on Perry St. Frisby amassed a legion of supporters during the summer when she publicly condemned Vaughn for, among other things, verbally assaulting her son, who is disabled.
At any rate, like other journalists across the region and state, I will be watching, reading, and writing about the activities of the second term of mayor Gusciora and the new Trenton City Council with a watchful eye. After several years of a downward spiral, things may finally be looking up for the Capital City.