Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer), a staunch supporter of Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, has endorsed Dan Benson now that her candidate has dropped out.
“One of the benefits of living in a Democracy is the ability to have a clash of ideas and perspectives,” said Reynolds-Jackson, a former county chair. “We might not always agree initially but that’s the beauty of working things out and coming back together as one.”
With a caustic four-month fight behind her, Reynolds-Jackson today praised Benson, saying he is the right man for the job.
“Having worked with Dan in the legislature on various initiatives and over the last couple of years on the Assembly Budget Committee, I know that he believes in workforce development and investing in people as I do,” she said.
Mayor Reed Gusciora and Reynolds-Jackson were Hughes’ most prominent supporters in Trenton, but Benson had countered with endorsements from the city’s most influential family: County Commissioner Samuel Frisby, Council President Teska Frisby, and veteran political insider Jeannine LaRue.
Reynolds-Jackson praised Hughes’ record during his 26 years in county government.
“His accomplishments will have positive outcomes for generations to come,” she said.
But she said it’s time to move on, suggesting that local election officials continue to address issues of maternal health, social and civil right, and environmental justice.
“It’s time we focus on Dan Benson’s vision to build up our technical and vocational trade schools and higher education institutions,” Reynolds-Jackson stated. “It’s time to move Mercer County forward together, and I look forward to working with our future County Executive to do exactly that.”
County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, a Hughes backer, also endorsed Benson today.
“Seeing Dan’s commitment, work ethic, and success as a New Jersey state legislator for many years, I am confident Dan will be a strong county executive who will bring new energy and innovative ideas to the job,” she said. “As County Clerk, I have no doubt he will be a great partner with me and the other County elected officials in serving our constituents, and I look forward to working with him in continuing our outstanding services to Mercer County residents and businesses.”
Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell) also endorsed Benson. He had not previously taken sides in the race.
“Dan is not only a tremendous resource as a fellow Mercer Legislator but a good friend,” Verrelli said, “We have a long history dating back to his first run for office in 1998. He is a man of his word, he puts people first, and we share the same commitment to roll up our sleeves and serve those who need it most.”
Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement praising Hughes’ tenure as county executive.
“Mercer County is in a better place today because of Brian Hughes’ 20 years of principled leadership as county executive. The Capital County has much to boast as his tenure approaches its end – including first-class county parks and the revitalization of Trenton-Mercer Airport into a regional travel hub,” Murphy said. “I appreciate Brian’s partnership throughout his time in office and all that we’ve been able to accomplish together.”
This story was updated at 1:14 PM with comment from Sollami Covello and Verrelli, and at 3:29 PM with comment from Murphy.