Mayoral Candidate Responses

There are ten candidates for mayor. In alphabetical order, they are Alexander Brown, Keith V. Hamilton, John E. Harmon, Eric Jackson, Annette H. Lartigue, Tony Mack, Paul M. Pintella, Manuel Segura, S. Watson and Frank Weeden. After each question, the responses of each candidate are provided.

  1. Every city needs to have a vision, a realistic plan, of what it aspires to be. What is your vision for Trenton ten years from now? What can we learn from other successful cities that support your vision? Go to Question 1
  2. To move Trenton toward your vision of what our city can be, you should have concrete and specific goals and benchmarks. What are the top five goals you will tackle in your first year as Mayor, why are these important and how will you document success to Trenton citizens? Go to Question 2
  3. A healthy city must be able to meet the needs of its citizens while balancing its budget. Trenton has many assets and a resilient population, but it still relies on the state for almost 75% of its operating budget revenue. How will you use Trenton’s assets to increase revenues and what specific steps will you take to reduce expenditures? What will be the combined benefits of these actions? Go to Question 3
  4. The term “economic development” means many things to many people. What do you mean by economic development for the City of Trenton, and how do you plan to achieve it? Go to Question 4
  5. Is the revitalization of downtown Trenton a key part of your economic development strategy? Why or why not? If so, what specific actions would you take as Mayor? Go to Question 5
  6. Many successful cities use history, arts and cultural opportunities to capture the spirit of the community and create vibrant places to live. As Mayor, what three specific steps will you take to support and market Trenton’s history, arts and cultural diversity both in our neighborhoods and downtown? Go to Question 6
  7. Trenton is a remarkably diverse city, with many different neighborhoods, blocks and organizations. As our Mayor, what will you do to foster and promote citizen action and efforts on the local and neighborhood level? What are examples of citizen-led efforts you would support, and what would you do to support them? Go to Question 7
  8. Many successful individuals have passed through the Trenton educational system, but we still have low student achievement levels, high dropout rates and a poor community image. What specifically will you do to increase the number of children that succeed? What initiatives will you advance so that families with choices will choose to educate their children in Trenton? Go to Question 8
  9. Some City of Trenton departments and services are seen as effective, while others are viewed as creating obstacles to progress. What two current City of Trenton departments or services do you believe are working well, and what two departments or services most need to be improved? What specific actions will you take as Mayor in your first year to improve underperforming departments or services? Go to Question 9
  10. As New Jersey’s capital, Trenton has a special relationship with state government. Tens of thousands of state employees work in Trenton, and a very large percentage of our downtown is state government facilities. What specific parts of the City of Trenton’s relationship with state government need improvement, and what will you do as Mayor over the next two years to address this? Go to Question 10
  11. Civic engagement requires open and honest sharing of information between those elected to serve in government and those who elected them. As our Mayor, what will you do to increase transparency in city government on critical subjects like hiring and appointments, budgeting, and economic development? Go to Question 11

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Question 1

Every city needs to have a vision, a realistic plan, of what it aspires to be. What is your vision for Trenton ten years from now? What can we learn from other successful cities that support your vision?

Brown – Question 1: Safe – Solvent – Productive
Trenton must reduce the criminal population in order to increase safety for residents and our business community.
Trenton must be able to reestablish its tax base so that it can provide and maintain city services to residents.
Trenton must be able to provide jobs by reintroducing the manufacturing of solar wind and green technologies.

Hamilton – Question 1: The Capital City of Trenton has a unique colonial history as being the seat of national government power. For our nation, and while holding the modern-day history of industrial worldwide prominence with a special railroad-bed hub, our established motto speaks for itself, “Trenton Makes the World Takes.” Therefore, my long-term vision for Trenton is to create it as a safe, crime-free environment, a sought-after historic tourist destination, and a magnet filled with businesses focused on distribution, warehousing, light industrial, and high technology. These attributes would, thus, enhance our economy, create job opportunities and provide the education required to build an educated workforce, thereby, empowering our residents with resources. In short, my administration will focus on restoring the City of Trenton to the prominence it once held by focusing on the 3 Es: Economics, Education and Empowerment.

Harmon – Question 1: Examining what has worked in cities such as Perth Amboy, Red Bank, Millville, New Brunswick, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta, smart growth must focus on creative ways of re-socializing communities of people toward higher measurable levels of self-sufficiency. This necessitates thinking beyond the limited parameters of a political mindset to expand the table of cross-sector talent and stakeholders, each sharing a bottom-line interest in a common set of outcomes that can result from increasing the consumer, occupational and civic capacity of individuals, their families and their neighborhoods.
This must be done from rigid adherence to a master plan that upgrades entire arteries and sets of city blocks around new relevant big –picture themes that enable the natural growth of new economies of scale and a new level of ownership of the people who call it home and the tourists the plan seeks to attract.
Please see website for more at http://harmonfortrenton.com/vision_jg.html.

Jackson – Question 1: Ten years from now, Trenton is a vibrant 24-7 City. Trenton’s downtown is a center for commerce, filled with bustling restaurants, cafes and shops. We are a City reconnected to our waterfront: the Delaware River. The waterfront is a regional draw and boasts an expanded linear park, mixed-use development, including retail, office and residential, and a realigned street grid, to replace the vast surface parking and State buildings that had dominated the landscape. Our City’s neighborhoods are safe, with occupied, restored housing stock, and serve as a source of pride for residents, with an engaged citizenry and strong civic organizations. Our City government has strong leadership and a balanced budget that is not heavily reliant upon State aid. Citizens are employed, youth are engaged in their schools and the City is engaged with educating its youth. The region looks to Trenton as a model of a revitalized mid-sized City

Lartigue – Question 1: A vibrant downtown, including shopping, eateries and mixed-use development; a rebirth of ‘neighborhoods’ with affordable and market-rate housing and ample access to open space; and, a renewed emphasis on our mass transit opportunities.
None of this is possible unless we are able to bring our structural deficit under control, bolster public safety, and inspire a confidence in our ability to deliver on basic public services.
Cities such as Providence and Rhode Island were successful in attracting development but only after a plan was put in place and there was a measured degree of success on the part of government and the community.
We can think big but need to start small – paving our roads, addressing vacant lots and abandoned properties, and providing support to the arts and cultural groups as an economic engine in their own right.

Mack – Question 1: One of our primary goals must be the investment in human capital. This means recognizing that our residents need access to education and opportunity. We can partner with educational institutions and non profits to ensure that residents who want to better themselves have access to resources that will put them in a classroom to acquire the skills needed to succeed. A qualified pool of labor will prove attractive to mid to large size companies considering building or expanding within the City.

Pintella – Question 1: Realistically, I can envision Trenton ten years from now with development in and around the Delaware River and along the D&R Canal. I would continue with the development of downtown and work to bring in a mix of small and large businesses that would provide services, goods, and jobs for Trenton residents. I would continue to develop neighborhoods and preserve our open–space. I would look to model cities such as Baltimore and San Antonio for development around our water ways. I would look at cities such as Savannah, Boston, and Williamsburg that have a special emphasized on tourism.

Segura – Question 1: I envision a Trenton with safe streets, good schools and a vibrant economy, that is a cultural showcase and a destination for arts and entertainment. We can learn from cities like Hoboken, Bayonne, Union City and Jersey City that have developed their waterfront, focused significant time and energy on revitalization and are now reaping the benefits of years of hard work. We must bring small businesses, government and the community together to create a unified master plan for revitalizing Trenton, and then roll up our sleeves and get to work. If we have the right mayor, and we all work together, we CAN bring real jobs to the city, we CAN improve our schools, and we CAN make our neighborhoods safer. Trenton needs the right leadership to make that happen, and I have the experience and the plan to move Trenton forward.

Watson – Question 1: My vision is to bring change, help, and progress to Trenton to improve its image as the Capital City in the eyes of its citizens, the state, and visitors. The needs of our citizens must be addressed in order to gain their trust that government leaders have their best interest in mind with regard to economics, education, family, and community. The image at the state level must be improved so we are recognized with pride and dignity as the Capital City. The state itself should acknowledge that it has a vested interest in the success of Trenton and work to improve its relationship with the state capital. Many people outside of Trenton have a negative perception of the city. My vision is to change that perception by creating an atmosphere that draws people into the city with attractions such as performing arts, a vibrant downtown area, and family recreation.

Weeden – Question 1: My personal vision is that Trenton will have become a vibrant economic and cultural hub offering a unique residential and business “lifestyle” environment. It will achieve that by developing, celebrating, showcasing, and marketing its history, cultural diversity and talent, architecture and building stock, status as a Capital City and River City, and strategic transit location between major cities with easy access to New Jersey’s other amenities. Trenton has the unique potential for cultivating a “creative” and “eclectic” economic environment and attracting lifestyle seekers and tourism. Real revitalization in most cities has been sparked by entrepreneurial enterprise in the arts, lifestyle, entertainment, and civic celebration.

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Question 2

To move Trenton toward your vision of what our city can be, you should have concrete and specific goals and benchmarks. What are the top five goals you will tackle in your first year as Mayor, why are these important and how will you document success to Trenton citizens?

Brown – Question 2: First I would conduct a meeting with our legislative delegation to request, on behalf of the citizens of Trenton, to draft legislation to establish the Trenton Capital City Restoration and Economic Recovery Act of 2010. The purpose of this legislation is to authorize state assistance in stabilizing City finances and ensure the maintenance of city services during the period of recovery, until the city is fully capable of operating without relying on state revenue
I will conduct a meeting with all responsible and interested parties for the purpose of prevent St Francis Medical Center from relocating outside the city, and identify a location that is safe and cost effective. The hospital currently employee 1,100 employees of which over 450 are city workers.

I will conduct a meeting with all responsible interested parties to discuss the pending $20 million budget cut and impacts to our public school district.
I will conduct [truncated at 150 words]

Hamilton – Question 2: The top five goals I will tackle in my first year as Mayor include: 1) economic development, 2) job creation, 3) education and retraining, 4) empowerment of the citizenry, and 5) improving public safety. First, I will address the economics issue by developing a solid revenue base that will create a sustainable operating budget. The second is to create jobs for our residents by attracting opportunities here and encouraging external investment in Trenton. Economic success will be evidenced by a stabilization of property taxes and new job opportunities. Third is to enhance educational standards through a reward-motivated system, complemented with alternative vocational training. Education success will be measured by a decreased dropout rate and an increase in job opportunities. Finally, empower all Trentonians to resolve neighborhood and community issues. Evidence will be illustrated through a reduced crime rate and an increased number of satisfied constituents.

Harmon – Question 2: All of the following strategic priorities are benchmarked within the first 90 days of being in office. The importance of each is suggested in the language of the objective, and maintained as ongoing on-line conversations.
First, I will make public, a new results-oriented Public Works system.
Second, I will push for a full audit of all departmental operations and city services for new open accountability standards.
Third, I will convene a Business and Jobs Summit with major stakeholders to provide technical direction and resources to launch an aggressive economic growth plan for work force development and work force investment objectives.
Fourth, I will facilitate actions to connect workforce development and vocational training, to both our education and court systems.
Fifth, but not final, I will take full ownership of, and start to take the politics out of our School System by having the Superintendent answer to the new mayor.

Jackson – Question 2: As Mayor, I will set the following goals: 1) Address the structural deficit and adopt a balanced City budget that focuses on key priorities developed with citizen input; 2) Curb crime to improve public safety and initiate a clean neighborhood campaign; 3) Reposition Trenton within the region as a great place to start or expand your business and a great place to shop; 4) Retool the public school system to improve performance, decrease drop-out rates, and expand choices for Trenton’s families seeking quality education; and 5) Dramatically reduce abandoned properties through homesteading and public-private partnerships with quality developers.
These goals further my vision of Trenton as an economic driver for the region, a City that supports its residents, small businesses, and youth, and a place that our City residents are proud to call home and visitors from the region come to again and again to shop, work and play.

Lartigue – Question 2: The top five goals of my first year in office will be to:
1. Increase police foot patrols: downtown and in our neighborhoods.
2. Develop a five-year plan to address our structural deficit.
3. Develop an open, honest, and consistent dialogue with residents and business owners as to their priorities and concerns; host quarterly meetings in each of the city’s wards and in the downtown area.
4. Open at least two new businesses in the downtown area.
5. Decrease the number of abandoned buildings by 10% either through revitalization, or demolition.
Demonstrable progress to attract businesses to this city is the key to any successful marketing plan. This requires that our City be open and transparent with regard to our priorities and our programs. Progress will be updated on the City’s website, and shared through public service announcements via schools, libraries, businesses and churches.

Mack – Question 2:
• Public Safety
• Jobs
• Education
• Recreation/Entertainment
• Infrastructure

Pintella – Question 2: The “top five goals” I will tackle are budgetary issues, street repair, real estate assets, transparency in government processes, and public safety. The city’s finances are always a topic of discussion, particularly, with cuts to capital city aid and municipal aid and its impact on city taxes. I would communicate regularly with the Governor and the State Delegation to fight for Trenton’s fair share and seek to restructure city government for cost savings. With regard to city streets, it would be a major priority of mine to repair our streets beyond patch work through partnerships with federal, state and county governments. I believe that a complete inventory of abandoned city-owned properties should be developed for homeowner and commercial opportunities to generate revenue. I will work to ensure that my administration will govern with honesty and accountability through community outreach being highly visible, and speaking directly to the press. Lastly, I [truncated at 150 words]

Segura – Question 2:
1. Put more cops on the street and invest in new technologies to fight crime.
2. Improve out schools by having the Board of Education elected by the people, not appointed by the Mayor. I am the only candidate for Mayor that supports a Board of Education that is fully elected by the people of the city.
3. Clean up City Hall. I will get rid of the patronage appointees who collect a paycheck but don’t do any work. I will conduct a full, forensic audit of the city’s finances, so we know how every penny of the taxpayers’ money is being spent.
4. Clean up our City. I will direct the Department of Public Works to focus on cleaning the streets as well as repairing them.
5. Create an office of Small Business in City hall to help new businesses open in Trenton and allow existing businesses to expand.

Watson – Question 2:
• Proactively engage Gov. Christie to discuss funding cuts and vested interest in the success of Trenton.
• Market Trenton as “entrepreneur-friendly” city – from youth business owners to seasoned professionals, ensuring that entrepreneurs have the services, education, and support to empower success.
• Eliminate disconnects in municipal government that negatively impact the educational process. School Board of Estimates examine the funding process to ensure that educational policies are supported by the budget, with the desired outcome of high performing, productive students.
• Cleaning 100 lots in 100 days with community clean-up crews sends a visible message of accountability for the Mayor and the citizens to clean house.
• “Walking Town Meetings” with residents in local parks provide a tangible mayoral presence that is communal and accessible, which allows me to observe the community issues first-hand by walking with concerned citizens who want to engage the Mayor.

Weeden – Question 2:
• Clean up our city! Aggressively address quality-of-life issues including abandoned property and slumlords, and resident parking under strong neighborhood-based planning, “broken windows” enforcement of city ordinances, and “community policing”.
• Target neighborhoods and commercial hubs with special “lifestyle” potential for accelerated development including marketing available building stock, offering a diversity of rehabilitation and business start-up incentives, “thematic” streetscape enhancements, civic art, etc.
• BE BOLD! PAINT THE TOWN! Explore unique creative ideas to enhance the resident and visitor experience through civic art and involvement, gateway treatments, street festivity, signage, etc.
• Develop tourism by integrating our civic life, our schools, and our creative talents into celebration of our Revolutionary War and industrial history.
• Aggressively market our city as a “lifestyle” city. Transform our website and other marketing tools with an emphasis on real estate availability, small & big business opportunities, sites, dining, entertainment, civic calendar.

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Question 3

A healthy city must be able to meet the needs of its citizens while balancing its budget. Trenton has many assets and a resilient population, but it still relies on the state for almost 75% of its operating budget revenue. How will you use Trenton’s assets to increase revenues and what specific steps will you take to reduce expenditures? What will be the combined benefits of these actions?

Brown – Question 3: Economic Development should included community and business development.
Promote Trenton as the state of New Jersey’s manufacturing center for Solar, Wind and Green Technologies to provide the Capital City with the means to establish a sustainable tax and employment base.
Housing: replace industrial aged housing that contains high levels of asbestos and lead in water systems with modern environmentally responsible single family units with off street parking, landscaping and open space areas that are desirable to future middleclass home buyers.
To address the approximately 3,000 vacant and boarded up housing I would propose that the either the City Housing Authority or other agency incorporate these units as part of a city wide Scattered Housing Program for the purpose restoring serviceable housing to the tax rolls and provide reasonable price housing new home buyers and the homeless.

Hamilton – Question 3: First, to increase revenue I will ensure that the state meet the same property tax requirement that you and I must meet. Second, I will petition the state to expand and include all of Trenton into an Urban Enterprise Zone, giving the city increased opportunities to generate more revenue from existing businesses and any new ones. Third, I will pursue an enhanced development of Trenton’s historical significance, not only in the State of New Jersey but also in the United States of America and globally as well.
My efforts to reduce expenditures will come from two approaches: 1) I will direct my administration to identify and modify any waste in material usage; 2) I will identify and modify any waste in employee usage of time.
The benefit to these actions will produce a more cost-effective streamlined, efficient use of time and material citywide, which I believe will generate a happier [truncated at 150 words]

Harmon – Question 3: The first thing that must be done is diversification from an over dependence on state aid starting day one of my term in office. Then the task force will conduct an assessment of the size and scope of city government. Then we will craft a short term and a long term growth plan. I will further introduce the city budget through a series of town hall meetings with power point presentations followed up by community review and comment events. Each stage of the budget development process through final adoption will be posted on the city government website.
My Economic Development Taskforce as part of my Transition Team will convene a thorough audit of the city’s financial condition and such a sound business approach to an open and comprehensive audit of all city services and operations will result in the establishment of new plausible expenditure guidelines.

Jackson – Question 3: I will promote a fair, predictable State formula that reimburses the City for its tax-exempt properties. I will use private sector investment as a strategy to reduce our long-term reliance on the State and increase ratables. I will convert abandoned properties to occupied homes.
I will support the sale of the Trenton Water Works suburban infrastructure if approved by referendum, given our City’s dire financial predicament and our overtaxed residents. Too many cities, however, have taken such one-time revenues and squandered them. In contrast, I will use the funds to retire debt and invest funds wisely in our City’s future.
I will immediately identify savings in Trenton’s budget by eliminating duplicative and non-essential services and conducting departmental audits to find efficiencies. I will reduce all non-contractual salaries, beginning with mine, by 10%. The effect will be a balanced budget that preserves essential services, increases ratables, and fosters Trenton’s economic growth.

Lartigue – Question 3: The proposed FY2011 State Budget makes clear what has been evident to many – even if we were so inclined, we can no longer rely on the state to underwrite our operating costs. That said, it is unacceptable that the state has completely abandoned our City. The State must pay the rent it owes for our property and the services they utilize… period.
With regard to expenses, a budget is a list of priorities a road map, if you will. In partnership with our community, business leaders and labor, we will work to make our government more efficient, effective, and transparent based on what we believe to be our most important responsibilities and priorities. We will look to partner with other municipalities to share and reduce municipal service costs.
As for increasing revenues, we must do a better job of marketing who we are and what we have to offer, i.e. [truncated at 150 words]

Mack – Question 3: One asset that needs to be given more attention is our housing stock. If we are to truly revitalize Trenton then we will need to have a neighborhood-centered approach. The first step of this is ensuring that our diverse housing stock has the proper investments. This means making sure local developers have every opportunity to purchase abandoned/neglected properties and rehab these properties in effort to create more ratables for the City. What is true about local developers is they often employ local labor who would then reinvest their earnings back into the local economy. The City also has many historical properties that need renovation and we should encourage homeowners to apply for restoration grants. The last part of this issue is ensuring that existing housing stock meet local and state regulations to protect the quality of life of the families that occupy them.

Pintella – Question 3: As Mayor I would seek to control spending and I will make tough choices. I will explore new ways to generate additional revenue into the city (i.e. housing and economic/commercial development, tourism, city user fees) and to expand the City’s tax base. I will fight for enabling tax legislation for Trenton and continue to lobby to obtain state surface parking lots for development. I would seek to reduce expenditures by exploring the possibilities of consolidating city departments and downsizing to become leaner and more efficient (government restructure). I would order 10% cut in all departments; eliminate all vacant positions, meet with union officials to discuss ideas of how to share the fiscal burden and control costs. I will review all capital expenditures and eliminate those that do not meet and emergent & immediate needs. I would utilize technology to maximize efficiencies in every city department and dispose of outdated city [truncated at 150 words]

Segura – Question 3: I will order a full, forensic audit of the budget to ensure that we can account for every penny. I will order all Directors to propose specific spending cuts that prioritize eliminating wasteful and non-essential spending and avoid cuts to essential services. All Division directors and mayoral appointees not subject to collective bargaining agreements will have to take a 10% reduction in salary. All mayoral appointees working in City Hall when I am sworn in will be asked one simple question: what do you do here? Anyone who cannot provide a justification for his or her continued employment will be dismissed. I will increase revenue by working to turn abandoned homes over to people who are willing to fix them up and live in them, thus increasing the tax base. I will also work to make sure the state pays its fair share for the city land it occupies.

Watson – Question 3: The knee-jerk response to the funding issue is make cuts, reduce expenditures, or raise taxes. I challenge this approach by placing stronger emphasis on increasing revenue by infusing the city with new revenue streams from public and private partnerships, businesses, entrepreneurship, and strategic development. I propose the following:
• Facilitate a shift towards development from within with a long-term goal to reduce dependency on the state – empower entrepreneurs; continuously improve the workforce through education and human development; encourage college educated residents to return and become a part of a succession plan enabling long-term progress.
• Complete a thorough analysis of the property utilized by the state with a tax-exempt status. The state owns approximately 50% of the property in Trenton yet the city receives no revenue because of the tax-exempt status.
• Identify specific developers, businesses, and investors who share a common interest in rebuilding Trenton.

Weeden – Question 3: Proposals in #2 are designed to increase our city’s tax base by attracting new residents and businesses. They are a starting point for investment and growth. It would be foolish to try balancing budgets with a rapid “sell-off” of building and property assets before we have maximized their value with a clear and compelling vision, a sound redevelopment strategy, and progress in the areas of quality of life, public safety, and education. In addition, selling our Trenton Water Works is out of the question since it is a revenue producing asset and essential for long-term fiscal health. That leaves very few assets to sell right now, and I will be concentrating my immediate efforts on spending reduction rather than “asset monetization”. Along with reversing the Mayor’s, Eric Jackson’s, and other officials’ illegal pay raises, my first priority will be to clean house in our top-heavy administration and then go from there.

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Question 4

The term “economic development” means many things to many people. What do you mean by economic development for the City of Trenton, and how do you plan to achieve it?

Brown – Question 4: Business Development: Create a Small Business Incubator program to assist in the continuing growth of successful small business enterprises.
To ensure the survival and expansion of small businesses, create a local business directory and initiate a “Buy Trenton First” campaign.
Create a local business supplies and equipment cooperative to assist local businesses in maintain low overhead costs of operation.
Quality of Life: develop plans to address slum landlord abuses, nuisance bars, provide more year round recreational activities for city youth; establish a lost or stolen gun notification regulation; maintain our libraries throughout the city.
Establish a city wide street paving program; establish a neighborhood beautification initiative.

Hamilton – Question 4: Simply put, in my opinion economic development means creating jobs and revenue for the city in order to have sustained growth. I plan to achieve this by assisting our current businesses to grow, bringing in new businesses, creating a safe and secure city, and collaborating with other successful organizations to reposition Trenton.

Harmon – Question 4: I define economic development as the apparent vibrancy and enhanced esthetics that satisfies community expectations. But revitalization is also defined by the measurable improvement of the quality of life of individuals. This will call for immediately stemming population erosion and stimulating job creation and new home starts. We also must measure revitalization and its success with the reduction of the number of our people on public assistance, a reduction in the number of blighted properties, the number of new job hires and family median income. An example of clear results would be the use of Community Reinvestment Act dollars and effective homesteading programs to increase job and income levels with the leveling of site such as Miller Homes and replacing it with mixed income housing in a mixed use village environment over with planned immediate occupancy from current Trenton residents, new homeowners, rent to own arrangements and commuting consumers.

Jackson – Question 4: As Mayor, I will support small businesses in Trenton, strengthen workforce development efforts to employ Trenton residents, and bring new tax ratables to Trenton through private sector investment. I will strongly support small businesses through responsive government, including prompt attention to small business concerns; a single point of entry for businesses seeking to locate or expand within Trenton; and during the first quarter of FY2011 form a Small Business Development Council to support and enhance the growth of Trenton’s small businesses. This Council will serve as an incubator for new ideas and provide educational opportunities to help Trenton businesses thrive. I will work with the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and non-profits to prepare our residents for jobs in the region, including jobs in the new “green economy.” I will promote Trenton, with its strong transportation networks, historic buildings, and waterfront, as a prime location for businesses to relocate or expand.

Lartigue – Question 4: Economic development is a partnership of business (retail and restaurants), the arts, history and culture, community, and government working for as an engine to encourage growth.
The smallest and best economic development at all times is neighborhood restoration.
Abandoned properties must be restored or demolished. Public works must do a better job of cleaning and boarding properties, until the restoration happens, to help reduce blight and maintain neighborhoods.
See number #3.

Mack – Question 4:
Economic development means:
• Reducing the 2000+ abandoned/neglected properties and bringing them back on the tax rolls.
• Reducing the $6 million in consulting fees the City spends per year and encouraging qualified local businesses to bid for these contracts.
• Encouraging newly hired teachers, police, and fire to live within the City.
• Hiring additional police instead of spending millions of dollars per year on overtime without consideration to the physical and emotional toll on officers.
• Using a portion of overtime costs to pay the costs of bringing the State Police into the City.
• Putting police back on the beat.

Pintella – Question 4: When I speak of economic development, I mean proposals and projects that have some economic value to the city in terms of paying taxes, providing goods and services, creating jobs, and providing for those with disposable income to add to our local economy. I believe that continue revitalization of downtown, development along the waterfront, redevelopment of brownfields for re-use, and marketing of the City as a destination for entertainment, business, and recreation are essential to economic redevelopment.

Segura – Question 4: Economic development means bringing new jobs into the City. I will create an Office of Small Business in City Hall to help bring new businesses into the city, and help existing businesses expand and add jobs by providing assistance in navigating city bureaucracy. Further, I will work to expand the River Line Light Rail system to create jobs and new development; utilize the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program to support small business; emphasize mixed- income housing to stimulate demand for goods and services; create mixed-use development along the waterfront and train station areas; promote historic tourism; and forge partnerships with institutions of higher learning to further the educational opportunities for the citizens of Trenton and to create jobs. I will also create an independent vocational school to give job training to Trenton residents that don’t pursue a college degree.

Watson – Question 4: I do not view economic development as a “stand-alone” entity. Rather it is the central element in a system that includes education and human development, along with family and community development. Healthy growth and improvement in all three areas is necessary for economic viability. An educated citizenry (high school level at minimum) is the result of a quality educational system that centers on high performance, resulting in a productive workforce. Like wise, human development in the form of training, life-management and decision-making skills plays a role in economic viability. A strong community that supports families in terms of education, recreation, public safety, and health and wellness is a one that will attract long-term residents, businesses, and personal investment in the local economy.

Weeden – Question 4:
• See answers to question #2
• Stop housing production by outside developers and start development strategies that employ 100% local contractors.
• Stop outsourcing goods and services. Start tailoring city contracts for local businesses and provide the support and incentives to make city contracts more accessible.
• Incentives and support for small business formation tied directly to our Clean City Initiatives and targeted commercial zones.
• Our big business aspirations will involve targeting specific industries, modern infrastructure needs, and new and aggressive marketing strategies. It is unlikely that Trenton will see a revival of manufacturing as we know it, but new industries are rapidly emerging, and our task is to anticipate what they are and what our role must be to attract them.

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Question 5

Is the revitalization of downtown Trenton a key part of your economic development strategy? Why or why not? If so, what specific actions would you take as Mayor?

Brown – Question 5: Since St Francis Medical Center has express interest in relocating to the downtown area of Trenton. I would also promote the idea a making downtown are into a medical complex with other medical, teaching, reach search and development facilities which would provide job attract other business and keep Trenton open after 5 pm.
Set design standards for both residential and commercial development that is appealing to the middleclass; ensure that zoning regulations are complimentary to developer goals; provide adequate parking in safe and secure areas; ensure that marketing plans are coordinated to maximize customer traffic.

Hamilton – Question 5: Yes, the revitalization of downtown Trenton plays a major role in my economic development strategy.
I believe the downtown area of the city has the potential to grow through the patronage of both city residents and non-city residents, resulting in increased job opportunities for Trentonians, positively impacting the tax base of our community.
I would create a desirable atmosphere to attract a variety of new, innovative entertainment venues to come to downtown. Additionally, I will look to bring in higher institutions of learning to fulfill the needs of employers and employees.

Harmon – Question 5: I will follow my record of persuading major investors across sectors to come to the table to consider investing in local projects. Remember, revitalization is measured by the improved quality of life of people. I will focus on the many things we can do that will not cost new money but clearly will enhance quality of life. We will host workshops and forums to strengthen our workforce and better position business owners to secure profitable contracts. We will continue to pursue an aggressive community policing strategy and promote the benefits of our city throughout the region. I will accelerate movement on the partnerships necessary to commence on proposed projects like the Trenton Train Station, Route 29, Hope VI and other features of a multi-million dollar tourism industry.

Jackson – Question 5: The revitalization of downtown Trenton is key to my economic development strategy. Downtown Trenton serves as the retail and cultural anchor for the City. Without a strong downtown, the City cannot succeed. As Mayor, I will first and foremost listen to downtown Trenton’s small businesses. Working with the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA), I will set up regular meetings with downtown businesses to hear concerns, generate ideas, and form strategies for improving the business climate. I will address such priorities as public safety, regular inspections, clean streets, parking for retailers, and expanded marketing efforts. I will seek out new and expanded partnerships with State government, regional lending institutions, non-profits and local Chambers of Commerce, to name a few. As Mayor, I will market downtown Trenton as a hotspot for history, arts, and culture, and seek funding to support institutions and businesses around this theme.

Lartigue – Question 5: Yes.
The downtown area has to be a part of our revitalization. The infrastructure is in place, the train station is near and it will encourage State workers to come out and play during lunch hour, after work and on weekends.

Mack – Question 5: YES! The first step is meeting with existing business owners to determine what the existing issues are to their success. The second step is to leverage City resources to improve this business district. The third step is to encourage diversity of business establishments. We need an anchor in downtown Trenton and encouraging an institution of higher learning to move downtown will go long way in our revitalizing efforts.

Pintella – Question 5: The recovery and revitalization of downtown Trenton works hand in hand with my economic development strategy. As Mayor, I would encourage private development in empty downtown buildings on East State, Montgomery, Warren and Broad Streets. I would work to establish and incorporate the “Transit Village” into the downtown revitalization and the Roebling Complex. I would utilize Trenton’s Urban Enterprise monies and would seek state Redevelopment and Economic Development dollars when needed to help assist with private development. I would work with the Trenton Parking Authority, Trenton Downtown Association, Capital City Redevelopment Corporation and other interested parties to produce economic development opportunities in the downtown.

Segura – Question 5: The revitalization of downtown Trenton is key to the revitalization of the City. We need to attract entertainment venues like theaters, bars and nightclubs to Trenton. We have a unique opportunity to attract people from the suburbs who don’t want to travel all the way to Philadelphia or New York City for nightlife. In order to bring these attractions to the city, we have to improve public safety and make City Hall friendlier to small business. Once businesses realize that Trenton is safe and City Hall is helpful, these businesses will come to the City.

Watson – Question 5: To minimize redundancies and overdevelopment much research is needed to assess and analyze the city’s current economic development plans. My campaign committee has researched plans already on the books such (e.g., Downtown Capital District Master Plan and Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) to better understand the current status and/or outcome of initiatives and projects contained therein. I plan to capitalize on the successes achieved thus far in the city, looking at best practices and model projects (e.g., East Trenton Collaborative). Examples of successes include the redevelopment of the train station and Mill Hill areas. I would like to see continued expansion of the redevelopment into the surrounding neighbors, such as Walnut Avenue and Wilbur Section. In those areas that have not been successful I plan to use the assessment data as a springboard to design and develop innovative solutions that reflect my progressive approach to sustaining development in the city.

Weeden – Question 5: Yes, because it is the heart of our city and represents our public image. I see the most opportunity for development in the Kerney Campus and Broad St. Bank areas. Because students add vibrancy to urban areas, I plan to advocate for expansion of the campus and resolution of parking and retail opportunities. This area is ideal for experimentation with incubators, co-ops, and a permanent public market. I have already proposed a vision plan for the Broad St. Bank area to promote downtown residency by creating a public square surrounded by the restored Broad St. Bank, Commonwealth, and Bell Telephone buildings.

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Question 6

Many successful cities use history, arts and cultural opportunities to capture the spirit of the community and create vibrant places to live. As Mayor, what three specific steps will you take to support and market Trenton’s history, arts and cultural diversity both in our neighborhoods and downtown?

Brown – Question 6: I would seek and apply for grants, and private sources of funding to support and expand our libraries, parks, and our cultural and historic. I would also consider turning over the city parks to the county to ensure that our parks are maintain in good order.

Hamilton – Question 6: First, I will commission a complete study of Trenton’s pre-American revolutionary, American revolutionary, industrial revolutionary and the post World War II era, including arts and cultural aspects during those periods. Second, I will direct my administration to develop a marketing strategy that best accentuates the individual and collective history. Third, I will identify partners to help fund the exhibitions in order to effectively implement the plan.

Harmon – Question 6: Demonstration of marketing our greatness will be through the prism of the arts and crafts and theater of our many cultures and ethnicities. I will vigorously pursue the opening of a Firefighters and Homeland Safety Training Center that can be operated on the expansive land space of Duck Island, inspired by the remarkable experience of the American Firehouse History played out at the Perry Street public safety facility.
I also believe that a refreshing new “healthy living” and “serious about green” life style is possible here because of the manageable size of Trenton.
Our once a year celebration of Trenton’s extraordinary role in the birth of democracy will become a daily marketing beacon. Our downtown streets should be transformed into “come-to-life” interactive experiences of the Battles of Trenton, the social and communal reality of the time period, Trenton’s significance to both the “Underground Railroad” and the Industrial Revolution.

Jackson – Question 6: I will launch a marketing campaign to promote Trenton as an arts, culture and historic destination. This marketing campaign will pool funding from foundations, lenders, and businesses to increase patronage at local institutions, increase sales tax revenues, and promote Trenton as a tourist destination. I will pair a marketing campaign with a strategy to host arts and culture events throughout the year to attract visitors to our downtown, waterfront, and neighborhoods.
I will market Trenton’s neighborhoods as historic assets, support historic districts, reduce abandoned properties and substantially increase the number of homes that are historically renovated. This will increase Trenton neighborhoods’ attractiveness to newcomers and make our neighborhoods safer, more beautiful places for current residents.
I will create an arts and culture council, to focus both on existing historic and cultural sites, libraries and churches, and new museums or expanded offerings at existing museums for families and diverse cultural groups.

Lartigue – Question 6: We have great cultural and historic resources at our disposal. We have an extraordinary opportunity to build on this tremendous foundation.
Three steps:
1. Leading by example, I will continue to live, work and play in our City.
2. Expand the arts to showcase our history and cultural diversity.
3. Partner with County and State government to market the resources the City has to offer.

Mack – Question 6:
• Expanding Heritage Day to be more culturally centered. The diversity of Trenton should be on display for this event.
• Encourage grant writing that seeks to bring the arts to our parks during the warmer months.
• Recognize those Trentonians, local and abroad, who have contributed to arts and culture.

Pintella – Question 6: As Mayor, I would be supportive of artist housing in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. I would look to expand Artworks and its programs throughout the city utilizing public /private partnerships. I would make sure that Trenton is recognized as a part of the US Heritage Trail for its historic significance in American history. I look to find ways to positively expand upon the history of our neighborhoods and the diverse cultures that reside in our city. I would also look at creating a cultural district that would be appropriate for public art, performing arts events, festivals and fairs.

Segura – Question 6: The Mayor needs to be the salesman-in-chief to show off Trenton as an historic destination. As Mayor, I will work to show off the art, culture and history of the City to attract new visitors. I will use the media to highlight the treasures of Trenton, like the Old Barracks, and work to secure funding to preserve them and keep them in operation. I will also talk to the Mayors of other cities that have historic sites, like Baltimore, and learn the practices that have worked for them.

Watson – Question 6: To cultivate and sustain community change, understanding the power of place, culture, and history is very important. Because we are all interconnected it helps to understand the complexities of culture and history within the context of community. Three areas of concentration:
• Create a viable performing arts and entertainment venue in the city. Such a venue will serve to educate and showcase city talent, while attracting entertainment icons
• Create a state-of the-art library in the City of Trenton. Documented ROI evidence show that libraries have a very positive impact on the local economy, culture, educational, and recreational aspects of family life. Princeton and Plainsboro are excellent examples of local municipalities that have been successful in this type of endeavor.
• Create a cultural network that links together city museums, the new library, and the new performance arts center.

Weeden – Question 6:
• See answers to question #2
• Who better to promote history, arts, and culture than an entrepreneur with an art background, strong connections with the art world, who has built a successful business designing, manufacturing, branding, and marketing a high-end consumer product!
• My imagination overflows with ideas for promoting our city by enlisting both local and national talent. This week’s idea, as I watched my political billboards go up, was to partner with the three local billboard companies to make empty billboard space available for student artwork from our school district. In the form of friendly competition, student billboard art could be deployed throughout the city for pure art’s sake, history lessons, and civic themes. The billboard project would serve to clean up and enhance unused billboards, promote our city and our civic pride, and involve students and learning with our community.

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Question 7

Trenton is a remarkably diverse city, with many different neighborhoods, blocks and organizations. As our Mayor, what will you do to foster and promote citizen action and efforts on the local and neighborhood level? What are examples of citizen-led efforts you would support, and what would you do to support them?

Brown – Question 7: I would establish a permanent city wide community/government based Advisory Board to promote and encourage more meaningful participation from residents and business owners, to prepare them to be involved in the cities decision making process prior to any governmental action.

Hamilton – Question 7: I will encourage all of our communities to display and participate in cultural pride locally. Then, I will continue the Heritage Day festivities, complemented with a local flavor of a “pre-fest” combo weekend downtown, where neighborhood celebrations will lead up to the citywide festival.
I will support any and all legitimate community cultural events aligned with the values of our city and have the Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture Department submit grant applications to both public and private organizations to help fund legitimate, socially acceptable cultural programs.

Harmon – Question 7: I will establish structure to make certain that discussions at regularly scheduled town hall meetings will be the subject of conversation in every neighborhood. Each neighborhood is engaged as the positive reflection of its people and valued for the contribution of its dominant ethnicities to the development of America’s and the city’s greatness.
Each neighborhood is enabled to take ownership of its direction and future through organized community councils and established economic development goals and objectives. These become part of an open discussion of real social development plans carried through on the city’s website for community affairs, establishing an open culture of valuing ideas, transparency and accountability.

Jackson – Question 7: As Mayor, I will work to strengthen civic associations throughout the City. Ideally, each neighborhood in Trenton will be represented by an active civic association to serve as a collective voice for residents. Civic associations fulfill many functions, including bridging the gap between police and citizens and assisting with crime prevention, reporting on criminal activity, and early detection of problems; promoting property maintenance and reporting on inspections violations; maintaining clean and safe city streets, sidewalks, and lighting; supporting historic preservation; and building civic pride. The Trenton Council of Civic Associations (TCCA) has an important role to play in organizing existing, and helping to foster new, civic associations. As Mayor, I will engage the TCCA and recognize its value in fostering ongoing communication between City Hall and our City’s civic associations. I will support educational and leadership opportunities and have my Cabinet and police force participate actively in TCCA meetings.

Lartigue – Question 7: When I was elected West Ward Councilwoman 12 years ago, I established the West Ward Advisory Board. I meet monthly with our residents to hear their ideas and concerns and to dispense information. I will continue this monthly commitment City wide. In fact we have already begun this process with our residents roundtable discussions.
I believe that we can only be successful as a City if we empower our neighborhoods to become involved in the process.
Our “Just Do Your Own Block” initiative is one of many efforts to partner and beautify our City.

Mack – Question 7: We believe that local organizations serve as a bridge between government and residents. We would like to encourage the growth of these organizations in the community. The importance of a local civic organization gives residents a chance to express concerns about their neighborhood and is crucial to our success. More importantly, if these organizations had access to funding they could also serve to build neighborhood camaraderie with programs and activities that encourage neighbors to come out and interact with each other.

Pintella – Question 7: As Mayor, I believe that our citizens and our neighborhoods are our most valuable assets. I believe that neighborhoods should adopt a city park, a city school, participate in neighborhood clean-ups, support our libraries and work with our police precincts. I support efforts like the house and garden tours, street festivals, and any other program that promotes community pride. I will avail my administration to provide the necessary support for any and all viable community programs.

Segura – Question 7: On City Council, I have visited families in every part of the City. I have built relationships with communities in every Ward. I will continue that outreach as Mayor. I will be the Mayor for ALL Trenton, not just one part or another. From day one, my administration will have true transparency and foster a spirit of inclusion, and extend a hand to all parts of the City, letting them know that their Mayor cares about them and wants to help. The people need to know that City Hall is THEIR City Hall, and that the people who work at City Hall are there to serve them. As Mayor, I won’t hide in City Hall. I will be out in the community, visiting families and holding town hall meetings, and I will have an open-door policy, so that people can come and let me know about their ideas and concerns.

Watson – Question 7: Trenton has been on downward spiral for many years. We are at the point where healing and change must come from within the mind, spirit, and efforts of the citizens. We must cross social and cultural boundaries, break down barriers, and hold ourselves individually accountable for the future of the City of Trenton. The power to change, help, and move towards progress resides within every individual who bears the title “Trentonian”. Collective leadership, shared vision, and common purpose are needed to progress the city from its current state into a 21st century, vibrant, living community that embraces all.
Examples of organizations and individuals who are engaged in community outreach, youth development, and other noteworthy projects are all over the city. Tapping into and multiplying resources that are already there and building a network that unites them all will lead to a movement that cannot be stopped.

Weeden – Question 7: A lot! Let me make two major points. First, I will be identifying and using existing neighborhoods as the starting point for neighborhood-based planning and neighborhood initiatives. I promise to make it a bottom-up, not top-down, relationship and will be challenging citizens to prioritize their aspirations and contribute their creativity and hard work. Second, I hope to use my leadership and organizational talents to foster a positive working atmosphere and help each neighborhood come up with a realistic long-term vision and implementation plan. A good plan will focus the community on incremental achievable goals, combine our resources, and integrate neighborhood schools, churches, civic organizations, and local businesses.

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Question 8

Many successful individuals have passed through the Trenton educational system, but we still have low student achievement levels, high dropout rates and a poor community image. What specifically will you do to increase the number of children that succeed? What initiatives will you advance so that families with choices will choose to educate their children in Trenton?

Brown – Question 8: I would support converting our schools into state-of-the-art Community Learning Centers with an extended school day and school year to allow more time for classroom instruction and personnel development opportunities.
Expand the Gifted and Talented Program throughout the district.
Partner with, rather than compete against, the Charter Schools to best meet the needs of All Trenton students.
Establish single gender schools and classrooms, especially for black males who historically have not been able to succeed in the traditional school environment
Re-create Trenton Central High School as an Academic and Performance Arts Magnet School
Re-create the Daylight/Twilight High School as a school for both youth and adults seeking to develop modern vocational skills.
Establish residential educational facilities for disaffected students who have not been able to adjust to the traditional school environment.
Expand the use of the Phoenix Program to reduce the influence of the gang culture in our schools. [truncated at 150 words]

Hamilton – Question 8: I will approach this problem on four fronts: 1) Work to strengthen parenting skills of those who have self-identified the need. 2) Identify and retrain educators who need to update their teaching skills, allowing them to reach the 21st Century high-tech student. 3) Develop alternative vocational education for students to learn trades. 4) Identify and remove obstacles that would impede accomplishments of items 1 through 3.
My education initiative advocates for increased community ownership of the school district by modifying the School Board to two-thirds elected by the community and one-third appointed. Empower the citizens of Trenton to increase the safety and security of the city. Empower our students, educators, community and families to raise test scores and create an unprecedented desirable, innovative learning environment.

Harmon – Question 8: Comprehensive education reform is critical to any realistic plans to revitalize Trenton and I feel a competent mayor must take full responsibility for advancing it in measurable ways. Therefore, I will take all politics out of how we manage education and push for greater accountability and stakeholder equity by having the Superintendent report to me as mayor.
Working with a School Board selected by the mayor, the City Council and the citizens, my Education Transition Team will oversee a detailed audit of the entire school system.
I am already on record with plans to bring a vocational school and a nursing academy to Trenton. If we get this right, over five years we’ll be able to measure revitalization generated by education reform in terms of the employment rate, the higher education placement rate, the median family income and other positive impacts on the trajectory of our communities.

Jackson – Question 8: I will review the fiscal inputs and academic results of our school system, to improve parental involvement in their children’s academic performance and wellbeing. We must adapt best practices and model successful schools, creating new paradigms that our City’s schools will use to markedly improve upon graduation rates and academic progress. I will investigate adapting the acclaimed Harlem Children’s Zone to Trenton. The Harlem Children’s Zone is a nationally recognized model that provides comprehensive programs to children and families within a 100-block zone in Harlem, offering support from birth through college. Another model is the Penn Alexander School, a preK-8 public school in West Philadelphia formed in 2001 as a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and the public school district; the school has created quality public education options and revitalized a declining neighborhood. As Mayor, I will appoint Board of Education members and a Superintendent that support my vision.

Lartigue – Question 8: A good Superintendent and a diverse board along with strong support for our teachers and parental involvement and safe and clean schools are the keys to successful students.
One of many initiatives that I will advance is mentorship. Mentorships work.

Mack – Question 8:
• Reestablishing a VoTech Program for High School students.
• Request a review of all college preparatory programs.
• Curriculum model based on successful models.
• In class room support for Grades K-3.
• Strengthen math, science, and technology programs.
• Strengthen art and music programs.
• Expansion of mentoring and tutoring programs.
• We will have to aggressively expand our granting writing capabilities giving the fiscal restraints placed on our district.

Pintella – Question 8: As Mayor I will select school board members who would be committed to excellence in the school district from education to administration. I would have a strong Superintendent to run the district. I would appoint a liaison from the Mayor’s office to monitor and advise me of the daily business of the school district. I will encourage the Superintendent to give a State of the District report to inform the city residents about the state of education in Trenton. I will support public education and the methods and models (choice, charter, magnet, voucher) that give our children the best opportunity to succeed. I believe that the parental support of education is vital and each parent should have a contract with their child’s school. The key to lower dropout rates is to create career and vocational programs and work to re-enroll students in order to complete high school.

Segura – Question 8: The first step in improving our school system is to return accountability to the people. That’s why I support having the Board of Education directly elected by the people, not appointed by the Mayor. I am the only candidate for Mayor that supports having a fully elected Board of Education. The second step is to make our schools safer for students, teachers and staff. I will partner with educators and parents to develop a comprehensive plan to improve out schools that will include: enhancing our existing schools with smaller class sizes and best instructional practices; expanding access to career and technical programs in High School; increasing the High School graduation rate by 15%; providing support for special needs students; developing a vibrant school-to-work program; and investing in pre-K programs to better prepare students for school.

Watson – Question 8: Education is a strong determinant in the course of human development. Continuously expanding opportunities, consistently challenging the intellectual, and focusing on giving a child a superior mind is the essence of education. Educating every Trenton student to graduate prepared for college and/or trade school success is imperative. To that end, systemic and comprehensive changes must be made to the school system. I plan to do the following:
• Determine how to effectively create an atmosphere that challenges students to be high achievers.
• Develop a short-term strategy based on commonly shared standards, values, and expectations.
• Implement educational best practices and models, such as total quality management in education, emphasizing quality, performance, and equity.
• Look for innovative solutions, private partnerships, and models for creative funding. Public education has become nearly bare bones and any additional funding cuts would be an unconscionable disservice to our future leaders, doctors, entrepreneurs, and teachers.

Weeden – Question 8: No response received.

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Question 9

Some City of Trenton departments and services are seen as effective, while others are viewed as creating obstacles to progress. What two current City of Trenton departments or services do you believe are working well, and what two departments or services most need to be improved? What specific actions will you take as Mayor in your first year to improve underperforming departments or services?

Brown – Question 9: The Inspections unit has not been able to keep up with its work load in part due to a reduction in staff. If we are going to be able to assist local developers who are relying on our inspector to perform their duties in a timely basis, we must be able to fully staff this unit.
Public Works oversee the paving of our city streets yet some streets have gone unpaved for decades. I would like to establish a city wide paving program so that every street will be scheduled for repaving within reasonable timelines.
Policing, under the Police Director I believe that our police department has been successful in response to reducing the level of crime taking place in the city. Their community outreach effort and policing tactics has restored the confidence in the residents and business owners in the police’s ability to provide some measure of safety. [truncated at 150 words]

Hamilton – Question 9: I believe the Health and Human Services and the Vital Statistics Departments are working well. However, the Housing and Economic Development and Inspections Departments are in need of improvement.
First and foremost, I will clearly outline my expectations to the Department Heads by setting goals, objectives, tactics and will remove obstacles to ensure they have the resources needed to effectively get the job done.

Harmon – Question 9: The two operations of city government that I feel have been effective in recent times are the Public Safety operations of the Police and Fire Departments as well as the operations make adequate use of Environmental research and Resources. However, much needs to be done to make community policing a reality and to better forge an alliance of trust among rank and file, management and the city in both these departments.
Contrastingly the department of Public Works has suffered from obvious poor management and dangerous lack of leadership in making the clarion business case for necessary resources to keep the city inviting and appealing and free of the lingering perils of unmanaged blight. This area and Economic Development continue to be textbook examples of repeatedly wallowing in the same latent processes that do not work.

Jackson – Question 9: I am proud of my achievements as Director of Public Works, and am particularly proud of the reorganization I undertook, which led to $10 million in savings. Inspections is another department that is working well, issuing permits and responding to requests to address problem properties. In the first 100 days of my term, I will thoroughly evaluate each Department to determine where services are duplicated or could benefit from greater efficiency. I will hire a strong Business Administrator and bring together an experienced Cabinet, holding them accountable for results and excellent public service. I will examine consulting contracts with an eye toward cost containment. I will task our Departments with aggressively going after new federal and state funding opportunities. In the areas of police and fire, I will work closely with directors to implement cost-cutting measures particularly with overtime, while maintaining police and fire protection.

Lartigue – Question 9: Trenton Police and Fire are doing a good job under challenging circumstances.
In need of improvement:
1. The Inspection department is in need of additional staff to continue the good job they were doing prior to layoffs.
2. In my administration training for improved customer service will be job one.

Mack – Question 9: We believe that there is room for improvement within every single City department. We will review all departments with the same level of interest. Our success is tied to our ability to reinvigorate our neighborhoods and business districts. One area that needs attention is how we deal with abandoned and neglected properties. All obstacles to development, especially need to be removed. We also need to do a better job of supporting businesses that open up in our business districts.

Pintella – Question 9: I believe that the Departments of Recreation and Housing and Economic Development are working well despite very little staff. As Mayor, I would improve our Department of Inspections as it relates to getting permits and inspections handled more efficiently and in a timely manner. Furthermore, I would mandate that tighter controls be placed on the overtime usage of the Police Division. To improve many of the departments and divisions, I would look to restructure and consolidate city government with the goal to make it efficient and lean without interruption to services.

Segura – Question 9: I’m not going to say which Departments are truly effective until I can get in office and conduct a full audit. I want to meet with my Department Directors to identify which departments are working and which need to be improved. For example, the Inspections Department is lacking the tools and manpower to do its job effectively. Once I meet with the people who work in that Department, and hear the issues they face, I can decide what needs to be done to make it more effective. My Office of Small Business is one example of how I will improve government services. If the Office identifies bureaucratic roadblocks to new businesses coming into the City, I can work to remove those roadblocks and allow those new businesses to open faster.

Watson – Question 9: I cannot answer this question with any real honesty or accuracy since I am not an insider in the politics of the city government. During the exploratory phase of my campaign I reached out directly to the Mayor’s office requesting exactly this type of information and was denied access. My intention was to gather the information so my team of experts could make an accurate assessment to help guide my early days in office. In my blueprint for change I have committed to the citizens of Trenton that I will run a government that uses taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently. To that end, once I do take office this item will be a priority.

Weeden – Question 9:
• Department of Housing and Economic Development: All current redevelopment plans will be reviewed and amended to preclude eminent domain taking. I will significantly shift the Division of Housing Production’s focus from large-scale developer driven tract housing to strategic small-scale neighborhood rehab of abandoned property with selective in-fill housing. All our housing projects will be tailored to local contractors. The Division of Economic Development will be enhanced to incorporate the city’s aggressive real estate marketing efforts and a host of support services for small business formation.
• Inspections Department: The Division of Housing Inspections will be greatly expanded to crack down once and for all on the slumlords who have taken over our city. It will be fully funded by revenues from fines for building and property violations. It will further be fully integrated with the Police Department’s “broken windows” enforcement efforts in our Clean City initiative.

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Question 10

As New Jersey’s capital, Trenton has a special relationship with state government. Tens of thousands of state employees work in Trenton, and a very large percentage of our downtown is state government facilities. What specific parts of the City of Trenton’s relationship with state government need improvement, and what will you do as Mayor over the next two years to address this?

Brown – Question 10: See No. 2.

Hamilton – Question 10: The State’s reluctance to be a good neighbor is the only issue I see that needs improvement. The Governor’s refusal to pay the fair share of propriety taxes to the Capital City of Trenton has put an unnecessary burden on the City and its residents. As Mayor of Trenton, I will work with the State to implement short and long-term solutions to contribute to the resolution of this ongoing problem.

Harmon – Question 10: I will negotiate a new posture of cooperation with the Governor. We may not win a posturing war with the state. And we may not fair well in the aftermath of such a battle. This should be not just a “call your bluff” stand off. But we should forge forward responsibly with a plan that includes a realistic “B” and “C” part. We need to present to the Governor a plan that the state will feel compelled to entertain. A plan toward a give-and-take dialogue that convinces state level shareholders of how we will transform Trenton in ways that will advantage the state, enhance its operations and ignite bottom line improvement options for private sector prospects wanting to conduct business with the state’s complex over time.
We should leverage persuading the Governor toward a different posture with Trenton’s new creative and visionary leadership working toward obvious plausible and common goals.

Jackson – Question 10: Developing a fair formula for State aid to Trenton is critical to the City’s relationship with state government. I will promote a predictable State formula that reimburses the City annually for the tax-exempt properties, the burden of which is currently being shouldered by Trenton’s already stretched taxpayers. This will require close working relationships with our legislators and key representatives in State government, including the Governor’s Office and the NJ Department of Community Affairs. As Mayor, I will work with state government and with the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation (CCRC) on redevelopment efforts, including the redevelopment of Trenton’s waterfront, which involves the demolition of certain State buildings, the redesign of Route 29 as a boulevard, and the reuse of leased surface parking lots. The City and our state government can both benefit from joint partnerships, such as promoting Trenton as a center of arts and culture.

Lartigue – Question 10: I believe that as the State Capital, we have a unique opportunity to begin our revitalization in partnership and with a well charted course. While we may have disagreements about the state’s responsibility with regard to funding for the City’s budget, I am hopeful that the Administration (State) would be amenable to working together to maximize this opportunity. There is surely low- or, no-cost options available to market all we have to offer to the thousands of workers who work here every day. These may include e-mails announcing special events, or offering discounts to state workers – this is being done on a micro-level in many instances, but I believe that there are larger opportunities to partner here.

Mack – Question 10: We feel that transparency and accountability will lead to greater state investment in our Capital City.

Pintella – Question 10: The State of New Jersey has an obligation to recognize the City of Trenton as a “host” Capital City and it requires that the State pay its fair share. As Mayor, I will have an ongoing dialogue with the Governor’s office and the Governor’s Administration to make sure that Trenton’s interests are addressed. I will seek to restoration of Capital City Aid in the State budget and increase the City’s efforts to spur on housing and economic by recapturing state parking lots, and seek enabling tax legislation for Trenton.

Segura – Question 10: We need to get state workers to spend their money in the city, whether it means venturing out to eat at lunch or staying in the city after work. They wont do that unless they feel the city is safe. We need to get state workers to live in the city and raise their families here. They wont do that unless they know we have good schools for their kids. Public safety and the educational system need to be improved primarily for the residents who already live here, but also because we need to attract families to visit and live here and increase the tax base. Also, the state needs to pay its fair share for the buildings they occupy in Trenton, and that means the Mayor needs to work closely with the Governor and Legislative leadership to find creative solutions for the cuts in state funding.

Watson – Question 10: I wholeheartedly believe that Trenton should be recognized with pride and dignity as the Capital City. The state has a vested interest in the success of Trenton and should be willing to collaborate at the local level to improve the relationship. I will proactively seek dialog with Gov. Christie to address some of the issues at hand for Trenton, such as property taxes. The fact that the state does not pay its fair share of property taxes is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. I support a proposal that would end the tax exempt status of property owned by the state and any of its agencies and authorities. If the state becomes delinquent on the property taxes due then a tax lien would be enforced in the same manner as tax liens are enforced for Trenton citizens. The state cannot expect the citizens to bear the burden of funding cuts while this subsidy continues.

Weeden – Question 10: Everything because we are nowhere!

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Question 11

Civic engagement requires open and honest sharing of information between those elected to serve in government and those who elected them. As our Mayor, what will you do to increase transparency in city government on critical subjects like hiring and appointments, budgeting, and economic development?

Brown – Question 11: I would establish a city wide community/government based Advisory Board to promote and encourage more meaningful participation from residents and business owners in the cities decision making process, prior to any governmental action.

Hamilton – Question 11: My administration is committed to transparency, which promotes accountability. I will take several steps to make sure my administration is transparent to the citizens of Trenton. Specifically, as part of a system of transparency and in an effort to gain public participation and collaboration, I will ensure that each resident and civic group has direct access to me at community meetings. These meetings will be held three times per month, each in a different location around the city. At these meetings, I, along with the residents, business owners, employees and other stakeholders, will have an open dialog about appointments, budget, economic development, schools and public safety. The hiring goal of my administration is to ensure that all of the necessary disciplines are in place to ensure transparency and accountability within city government.

Harmon – Question 11: I will have cameras placed in City Council chambers for home viewing with online commenting managed to engage conversation and response to input and ideas. And I will ensure the open discussion around all major staffing and contracting decisions.
I will push to have the budget reporting period moved forward enough to allow for much more public information, evaluation and conversation all to come to points of consensus, understanding, and shared citizen and stakeholder ownership before the breakpoint of the final hours of the fiscal year.
I will further introduce the city budget through a series of town hall meetings with power point presentations followed up by community review and commenting events. Each stage of the budget development process through final adoption will be posted on the city government website.

Jackson – Question 11: We need increased transparency at all levels of City government. There are certain steps that can be taken immediately, like placing important public documents on the City’s website, engaging the Faith Based Community and business community. As Mayor, I will also make greater use of email as a vehicle for communicating with the public on critical, timely issues. With regard to the budget, strategies such as early review of the draft budget, outreach and education sessions, and multiple public hearings should be employed to bring greater transparency to the process and promote public trust in City government. To foster transparency, I intend to immediately convene a Trenton Fair Taxation Commission, and to invite business leaders, citizen’s groups and residents to work with me and my Cabinet to focus on facts, identify any additional areas for budget cuts, minimize impacts to our workers, and make recommendations for prioritizing limited resources.

Lartigue – Question 11: Any partnership must be forged in trust. To that end, I will do use the internet, resident roundtables and public service announcements to make this information available for review. The budget will be available and my administration will work with City Council to ensure a clear understanding of the mission, goals and objectives for our City.

Mack – Question 11:
• We will publish all budget documents and related documents well in advance of budget discussions that provide line item specific information.
• Individuals appointed to cabinet posts and boards/commissions will have their resume made available to members of the public via the City Clerk’s office and posted on the City website.
• We will publish City documents, relevant to governing, on the website as opposed to forcing residents to file costly and time consuming OPRA requests.

Pintella – Question 11: I will establish transparency in government thru honesty, accountability, communication, community outreach, enhanced website for public (not individual) promotion, deliberative and respectful working relationship with council members. I will hire the best qualified and the brightest individuals who will be committed to serve in my administration and face head on the challenges of Trenton and they will be thoroughly vetted. I will empower people by signing Executive Orders pertaining to ethical restrictions and conflicts of interest. I will mandate that development projects require a public forum beyond the planning and zoning board process to ensure that citizens are made aware of what is going on. For all Mayoral appointments to Boards and Commissions, I will institute an application process and formal interview prior to any public announcement. Lastly, I will place the city’s budget on the city’s website for public review.

Segura – Question 11: Transparency and public participation are the foundations of good government. We need to make the budget and hiring process open, and the people need to be given a real chance to make their voices heard. That means beginning the budget process earlier, having multiple town hall meetings across the city to present the budget, having the proposed budget posted on the city’s website for all to see. I will require that any proposed sale of city assets, like the water system, must be approved by public referendum. In addition, I will foster greater involvement of the community in policing efforts through neighborhood watches, neighborhood patrols with training and assigned police liaisons and block captains; improving relations between Police Officers and the public through diversity training; and forming committees to address quality of life issues, such as absentee landlords, abandoned and deteriorated homes, and property maintenance truancy.

Watson – Question 11: I consider myself a servant of the people and will hold myself accountable to the people. My approach to sustainable change is based on collective leadership and active engagement of citizens from all over the city, crossing geographical and social boundaries. I have already demonstrated my personal committed to civic engagement when lobbying in Washington for help in the city, which resulted in the Weed and Seed program. I plan to run a government that uses taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently. This includes transparency, disclosure, and sharing of information on my strategy, operating methodology, and results. One thing I plan to do early on is to revamp the entire city website to make it more informative, engaging, and citizen-friendly. I also plan to conduct weekly “walking town hall meetings” with residents in local parks to provide a tangible mayoral presence that is both communal & accessible.

Weeden – Question 11: Obey the law, for starters. The related issues I’ve built my record on speak for themselves: Blocking eminent domain taking by big developers – Winning our citizens’ right to vote on the Trenton Water Works sale – Abolishing discriminatory RCA housing policy – Enforcing the Residency Ordinance and saying “No” to double standards – Calling out the administration on illegal pay raises and petitioning for a strict Pay-to-Play Ordinance – To name a few! Go with your gut when other candidates talk about “transparency” and “integrity”

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1 comment so far

  1. […] the public via the City Clerk’s office and posted on the City website.” That’s what Candidate Tony Mack promised in April of 2010, in response to the candidate questionnaire prepared by the Beautiful Trenton group [Mack- Question […]


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