Assemblyman Reed Gusciora beat out businessman Paul Perez for Trenton’s mayorship on Tuesday.
The mayor-elect took 4,500 votes to Perez’s 4,145. This is the second defeat for Perez, who lost a runoff against Eric Jackson in 2014 by 1,167 votes.
“I don’t think any one person I appreciate more than the others,” Gusciora said in his victory speech. “This was a block-by-block battle for the fate of our city.”
Gusciora’s win brings an end to a contest that turned bitter in its final days. Debates and forums between the two candidates were often filled with acrimony in the final weeks of the campaign, with attacks from Perez’s side largely targeting Gusciora’s establishment support.
After the first round of voting in May, when Mercer County Deputy Clerk Walker Worthy failed to reach the primary, his establishment support shifted to the 11-term assemblyman.
The win itself is historic. Gusciora, an openly-gay white man, will be the first openly-gay mayor the City of Trenton and the first white mayor elected to a full term since Arthur Holland died in 1989. The city is 52% Black and 34% Hispanic.
“Both candidates worked diligently to outline their vision for the City of Trenton and ran a spirited, issues-oriented campaign,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. “Now, we can begin the work of uplifting our great capital city.”
Because state law disallows Gusciora to hold Trenton’s mayorship and his Assembly seat, he will have to resign from the latter before he is sworn on July 1.
That means a special election to fill his seat for the remainder of the term.