Home>Campaigns>Judge rejects Malave’s dog whistle claim, says candidate may remain on ballot as Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg

Trenton City Council candidate Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg. (Photo: Jenna Kettenburg).

Judge rejects Malave’s dog whistle claim, says candidate may remain on ballot as Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg

Trenton South Ward council candidate alleged rival was seeking Hispanic votes by using biological father’s name in campaign

By David Wildstein, December 09 2022 11:48 am

A Superior Court Judge will allow a candidate in next week’s runoff election for Trenton city council to remain on the ballot as Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg,

Robert Lougy, the Mercer County assignment judge, denied a bid by the other South Ward candidate, Damian Malave, to remove her from the ballot and prevent her from running as Figueroa Kettenburg in future elections, and dismissed Malave’s entire complaint.  Malave had also unsuccessfully sought to move the December 13 election to January 24.

Malave argued that Figueroa Kettenburg was not the real daughter of Edwin Figueroa, who died in 2018, and was seeking to use his name to win votes in a ward where 67% of the electorate is Hispanic.

Figueroa Kettenburg blasted Malave for his dog whistle tactics and for hurling personal attacks against her parents and “blended families.”

“Edwin Figueroa is the only father I have ever known.  I have always been told that he is my biological father, and, more importantly, even if he were to have technically been my stepfather, or just my mother’s partner of more than 35 years, the fact is that he is the only father I ever known,” Figueroa Kettenburg said in court filings  “From my babyhood, through my elementary school, middle school, and high school years, he was the father who was always there, until I left home for college, and whenever I visited home throughout my early adulthood years until he sadly passed away when I was 38 years old.”

Figueroa Kettenburg provided multiple documents to Mercer County Assignment Judge Robert Lougy to show that she has used the name Figueroa professionally, even though she is registered to vote as Jenna L. Kettenburg.

“My love for the only father I have ever considered to be my father is why I have proudly used the name Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg,” she said.

The issue of what name she sought to use in her campaign for the South Ward council seat might not have mattered.  An attorney for Figueroa Kettenburg argued in court filings that Malave was long past the deadline for challenging nominating petitions for Trenton’s non-partisan municipal election.

Lougy did not provide any reasons for his denial of Malave’s request.

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