Former Trenton Mayoral candidates Walker Worthy and Duncan Harrison formally announced on Tuesday that they would back Assemblyman Reed Guisciora over Paul Perez for the city’s open mayor’s seat.
“Folks, just let me say this to you – Reed Gusciora has what it takes to be the next mayor of Trenton,” Worthy, who finished third in the first round of voting. “I’ve known reed for almost, or maybe quite 30 years … I know this man has integrity, and integrity is what we need in Trenton. We can’t have a self-serving mayor. We need a mayor that serves the people.”
The Trentonian on Monday reported that Worthy, Mercer County deputy clerk, and Harrison, a Trenton councilman, along with former candidate Annette Lartigue, would support Gusciora.
The endorsements bring the support of candidates that won roughly 2,300 votes in early May. The support of their voters isn’t guaranteed by the endorsements – a view both mayoral candidates expressed in the aftermath of the May election – but they will likely provide an edge for Gusciora come June 12.
However, it’s conceivable that the endorsements could work against Gusciora, who has had the Trenton and Mercer County establishments align behind him after Worthy, their favored son, failed to advance to the runoff.
Perez, a former executive at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the National Science Foundation, is framing himself as an outsider in the race – a depiction that will, at the very least, ring true when compared to Gusciora, who has represented Trenton in the General Assembly since 1996.
The endorsements could reinforce that image, as could community activist Darren Green’s endorsement of Perez, though rumors that Green was offered a post in Perez’s cabinet in exchange for his endorsement – rumors that Perez denies – could serve to blunt any attacks on that line.
“If you see his quotes in the Trentonian, he expects to be in the next administration,” Gusciora said of Green. “He wants a cabinet position. And when I met with him, I know what I heard, and I told him I’m not here to make deals. I’m looking for support. I was not willing to sell out the city of Trenton.”
At Tuesday’s event, which was held in Worthy’s former campaign headquarters a stone’s throw away from the state capitol, Harrison and Worthy said they were endorsing Gusciora because of his experience, even likening Perez to President Donald Trump, another political outsider who they said had seen little success in his tenure as the country’s executive.
In each of their speeches, the former candidates – and Gusciora himself – brought up community-restoration efforts the assemblyman would undertake as mayor that would see potholes filled and community, at one point even flaunting preparatory efforts being taken to make sure that summer programs slated to begin shortly after the election do so smoothly.
“When you have two candidates that have a group of people that are working for the same goals, that’s important. When Duncan and Walker say they want to merge campaigns and bring their people in together, it’s because they all want the same thing, and no deals were made,” Gusciora said. “I think they just want a better city, and that’s why we’re in this.”