A shake-up in the senior ranks in the Capital City is in effect and underway
To combat an out-of-control homicide rate and growing community discontent and fear, Mayor Reed Gusciora and the Trenton City Council have been at the forefront of some significant changes in the capital city.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Arch Liston, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, resigned. However, on Thursday evening, it was reported that Liston was under consideration for the top spot as the director of Trenton Housing and Economic Development. And late last month, the Trenton City Council overwhelmingly appointed Steve Wilson as the Police Director. Wilson had been the interim director.
The Council also extended the temporary directorship of Sean Semple for three months as the head of Trenton Water Works. The embattled agency has been at the center of controversy and scandal for several years and was taken over by the state in October.
The most recent appointments, dismissals, and resignations follow the exits of other senior officials in Trenton, stretching back to the end of last year, including the departures of director of the Economic Housing and Development Director, the Public Information Officer, and the Director of Health and Human Services. Additionally, several new members of the Trenton City Council were elected, including a new President, Teska Frisby.
In a statement to the media last week, Gusicora said the recent changes and administrative shake-ups are due, at least in part, to budgetary constraints, “… our recently proposed budget has combined the Department of Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture and the Department of Health Human Services.” Gusciora added that the turnover in his administration is the same as changes in any political office. “Cabinet members often service in governmental roles for a short time, offer their expertise and then are off to new challenges,” he said.
However, some Trentonians disagreed with the mayor’s view and excuses for the revolving door in his administration. “His first term was plagued by the same turnover and dysfunction,” said former Trenton City Council candidate Michael Ranallo. “There has been zero stability for almost 6 years. People weren’t off to new challenges. They quit and sued and prevailed.”
Lastly, Trenton recorded 19 murders since the beginning of the year—nearly one-third of the homicides (six) occurred in June. The crime spree has led city officials to cancel or re-evaluate several popular summer events, including First Fridays.