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Trenton City Council candidate Damian Malave. (Photo: Damian Malave).

Malave enters race for Trenton council seat

Longtime resident forced George “Jew Them Down” Muschal into a runoff in 2018

By David Wildstein, March 03 2022 11:53 am

Four years after forcing veteran Trenton South Ward Councilman George Muschal into a runoff, Damian Malave is launching his second bid for the council seat.

Muschal is not seeking re-election to a council that might be the most dysfunctional governing body in New Jersey.

“City Council has been in constant turmoil over the past four years.  It’s time that we make the right choice and turn the corner towards progress,” Malave said.  “I am committed to working with residents to reclaim that sense of pride and peace that we deserve in our communities.  This is our Trenton.”

So far, Malave faces Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg, an investigator for the state Division of Children and Families.

“I decided to double down on serving and helping my neighbors even during the most challenging time in our state’s capital because South Trenton is the heart and soul of the City,” said Malave.

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Muschal defeated Malave by 300 votes, 60.5%-39.5% in the June 2018 runoff.  Muschal had led Malave by 201 votes, 46%-31% , in the May non-partisan municipal election, with 22.5% going to Kettenburg.

The 73-year-old Muschal, a former police officer, was first elected to the city council in a 2009 special election necessitaed by the sudden resignation of Jim Costin, who was moving out of Trenton.  He was acting mayor briefly in 2014 following the resignation of Tony Mack.

Muschal faced calls for his resignation from Gov. Phil Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and the state’s congressional delegation in 2019 when he defended Council President Kathy McBride for saying that during a closed-door discussion of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by resident Vivian Soto that Assistant City Attorney Peter Cohen was “able to wait her out and Jew her down” to settle the case at a lower amount during an executive session of the City Council.

Muschal says that while he didn’t hear a colleague make an anti-Semitic slur but says he’s heard the term “Jew them down” referred to many times and thinks it’s “just a statement of speech.”

“You know, it’s like a car dealer, they wanted $5,000, you Jew ‘em down to $4,000,” Muschal said.  “It’s nothing vicious.  The expression has been said millions of times.”

Malave will formally enter the race at 1 PM Saturday at the John Beech Playground in the South Ward.

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