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

State investigator enters race for open Trenton council seat

Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg seeks to fill South Ward seat of retiring Councilman George “Jew Them Down” Muschal

By David Wildstein, February 28 2022 2:05 pm

Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg, an investigations supervisor for the state Department of Children and Families, will enter the race for a Trenton South Ward City Council seat in the November 2022 non-partisan municipal election.

She has an announcement set for 5 PM tomorrow.

“March first marks the first day of Women’s History Month so I found this day to be quite appropriate for my announcement,” Kettenburg said.  “When elected, I will be the first woman to represent the South Ward on Trenton City Council.”

So far, Kettenburg faces Damian Malave, a Mercer County Parks Department employee who is set to launch his candidacy on Saturday.

The incumbent, George Muschal, is not seeking re-election.  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.

Kettenburg served as a principal investigator form the state Office of the Public Defender for 17 years.

This is the second council run for Kettenburg and Malave.  They both challenged Muschal in 2018.  Muschal finished first with 613 votes, followed by Malave (412) and Kettenburg (298).  With 46% of the vote, Muschal was forced into a runoff with Malave; Muschal won by 21 percentage points.

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.”


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