TRENTON – A bleak, miserable and muggy Jersey day stuck to North Broad, deadening the pot street corner haze of the capital city here downtown where a block up inside Paul Perez headquarters the mood treaded at the edge of euphoria as the runoff candidate for mayor heartily accepted the endorsement of former mayoral candidate Darren “Freedom” Green.
Green wants to get former Pentagon security personnel Perez past Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15)
in the June 12th runoff election. The winner will take the controls of a city squirming with the ill effects of neglect, despair and poverty all literally right on the front door steps of state government.
Adding his voice to Team Perez, Green sees the contest as a people power champion versus an influx of the same battered political machine that aided and abetted past failures.
He shunned the short hand narrative of gay man versus Latino for the win.
“This is an opportunity to elect the past candidate to lead the city forward,” said Green, who came in fourth place last Tuesday in his own bid to lead Trenton. “Paul Perez will not be the mayor of any community… He will be the mayor of the entire community. We’ve been in a war for 40 years with a machine that has had power, control and influence over every aspect of this city’s development.”
Monday night three shootings occurred.
The next day, no one in leadership said anything significant, he said.
“Paul Perez on Tuesday would have been standing with a new police director,” Green said.
Perez lapped up the endorsement in a packed campaign headquarters crammed with media and supporters.
“The people know us,” said the mayoral candidate. “We don’t need an introduction. My experience of 30 years is unmatched by the people against us.”
He hugged Green and raised his arm amid hand claps.
You can watch the full post-announcement interaction of Perez and Green with the media here:
A self-professed independent thinker, Green denied that he and fellow grassroots candidate Perez had struck a deal to join forces in the runoff, or that he has the expectation of a job in the Perez Cabinet.
“When I talked with Reed and when I talked with Mr. Perez I didn’t ask for a job,” he said. “I simply said I was willing to do the work my campaign was built on on moving this administration and this city forward.
“There are no expectations or promises made,” he added. “We haven’t even gotten to that spot. …The only expectation I expect is for us to be amazing.”
Perez doubled down on the assertion.
“Politics is new for us,” he asserted.
“Politics is not new for Reed, but work is,” he added, triggering howls from supporters in the room.
Both men basked in Green’s argument that the machine is crushing Trenton, but InsiderNJ asked them how former Mayor Tony Mack – who ran against the establishment with a similar message – flew off the rails and ended up behind bars.
“I think again I don’t want to disrespect Mr. Mack and what he went through,” Green said. “It is who he surrounded himself with. Mr. Mack made some poor choices… and unfortunately made some bad decisions. He’s not a bad person.”
A few blocks away, Gusciora was frenetically working in his own campaign headquarters, counterpointing the Perez-Green alliance.
Green’s endorsement papers over Perez’s historic inability to reach out and appeal to all sectors of the Trenton community, the mayoral candidate argued. He also said Perez has presented a one-note solution too, offering little more than a tough guy attitude in the face of complex problems.
“I think I’m in the best position to bring all people together,” said the assemblyman. “Paul has made it clear that he wants military style policing in the streets and has basically shown a bullying approach to government. We should bring people along and lift people up in all neighborhoods and all groups.”
In the face of the charge that he’s simply a recalibration of the same machine that backed failed candidate Walker Worthy, the assemblyman could make the case that he was also a candidate opposed by the machine that backed Worthy and ate the loss.
“I’ve tried not listen to the party bosses but to do the right thing,” he said.
As an example of his prioritized leadership and decision-making ability he noted his work on ultimately securing funding for the high school despite withdrawal of funding for Trenton by the administration of former Governor Chris Christie.