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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2010 city election takes shape

Several incumbents and a new candidate have begun filing contributions with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission for the 2010 Trenton municipal race, with that election now a little over two years away.

Current City Council members Gino Melone and Jim Coston have filed contributions, although it has been widely speculated that Mr. Melone is weighing a possible run at the mayor’s seat that is expected to be vacated in 2010 by Trenton’s current leader, embattled Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.

Mercer County Freeholder and former Trenton mayoral candidate Tony Mack has also filed contributions for the 2010 mayor’s race, as has Mayor Palmer, although the mayor’s filings seem to be residual and statutory in nature, listing no new contributions and only old financial information stemming from a loan he took out for his 2006 campaign.

Election newcomer and West Ward resident Zachary Chester has filed as well, with election papers detailing monetary backing in the form of contributions made by coworkers at Capital Health System.

Mr. Chester also seems to have good political backing, in the form of endorsements for his run from current West Ward Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, which have been made by Ms. Lartigue at public meetings recently.

Ms. Lartigue will also be running for the mayor’s seat in 2010, with Trenton residents from some West Ward neighborhoods reporting they have already been invited to what has been billed as an official campaign-launch event.

But Ms. Lartigue’s recent waffling on issues such as the contract of city gang consultant Barry Colicelli and the Police Director Joseph Santiago residency issue have apparently given those in her base of support some doubts about her credibility as an elected official.

Councilman Manny Segura is also believed to be mulling a run at the mayor’s seat, and his recent solid voting record puts him and head-and-shoulders above Ms. Lartigue, who has demonstrated an inability to separate herself from the increasingly unpopular Palmer administration, and its officials’ arrogant style of rule.

Councilwoman Cordelia Staton’s position in the 2010 elections has not been officially established, but as a Hillcrest resident, she could conceivably run for a West Ward seat that might be easier to win than her current at-large position, given the erosion of the power of Mayor Palmer city-wide.

That would put her on a collision course in the election with both Mr. Chester and Ms. Lartigue’s public endorsement of an anointed successor.

Ms. Staton made her name working for the Palmer-backed referendum that gave Trenton the Police Director position and has the backing of the mayor, so Ms. Lartigue would be put in the predicament of either continuing to back Mr. Chester, or making a decision to rescind that support and go along with the status quo, including several administration officials who have publicly butted heads with Mr. Chester.

Let us hope Mr. Chester is successful and gets a seat at the table, which would likely prevent more of this...

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