Change, transition, and even more change has truly been in the air recently. With Trenton's runoff election taking place just this past week, change has definitely been the hallmark. As the cliche goes, out with the old, in with the new. But even as we bask in the possibility of new beginnings and anxiously await what the newly elected Mack Administration will do once its sworn in, we must never forget the love and service Doug Palmer gave during his 20 year tenure as mayor. Despite what his critics might say, Doug Palmer did in fact develop parts of this city. The Marriott Hotel and Sun Bank Arena are but two examples where he has added value to the state's capitol. However, now is not the time to rest on those laurels. Now is the time to build upon that vision and fill in those gaps in between the arena and hotel. Even as we celebrate the progress made there, we must never lose sight of all those streets and sections in between that are still catching hell unnecessarily. Indeed, it doesn't take a genius to see that the city of Trenton has seen better days. At this critical juncture, Trenton finds itself saddled with a budget deficit, high unemployment, and unacceptable levels of crime. The question becomes: what will we as a people do to address these ongoing issues? This is truly a difficult question that quite frankly resists any easy answers. As a result, tough decisions must be made by a bold and visionary leader. The people have chosen Tony Mack and others to represent their interests in this city. Let us hope and pray that they are courageous enough to be attentive to the humble cries of everyday people instead of cowering to the rich and well-to-do. The new administration must keep their eyes open and their ears close to the street to avoid becoming out of touch with the people. Nevertheless, we as concerned citizens also have a responsibility to do everything in our power to keep these elected officials honest and accountable. If we don't put pressure on them and hold them accountable for their campaign promises, the people will become disempowered and suddenly the quality of life in the city becomes seriously threatened. We must not sit idly by and allow this to occur. We must straighten our backs up and fight for a better Trenton where people have genuine hope and opportunity. This is no time to take the easy way out where one succumbs to political indifference and civic disengagement. Now is the time to take bold and vigorous action.
What you might ask can I do as an everyday citizen to hold members of the new administration accountable: Well, the first thing we should do as concerned citizens is identify and define the issues plaguing our community. This shouldn't be hard as we are all well acquainted with rising property taxes, budget cuts, and the like. Once we identify these issues, we should then reach out to our respective council representatives to find out when and where community meetings are held. At these meetings residents are given updates on their individual ward, and also afforded the opportunity to express any concerns they may have. This is a great venue to speak up and truly be heard. Try to consistently attend these meetings. If you cannot make it to the meetings, by all means follow up by phone or if you're technologically inclined, follow up by email. (Here is the city's website: http://www.trentonnj.org/Cit-e-Access/contactinfo/?TID=55&TPID=5557) As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, meaning that your grievances will only get addressed if you are persistent and determined to have things changed around you. If you are lax, things remain the same. If we're really sick and tired of the issues afflicting our city, then we must stop drinking from the enticing cup of sour cynicism that insists on not voting or contacting our elected representatives. No more lame excuses. Hillary Clinton is often quoted saying that 'it takes a village to raise a child' I would venture to say that a city, much like a child, needs a whole host of characters (both elected officials and everyday citizens alike) to bring about the sort of changes we wish to see in the world. To put it simply, everybody has a responsibility. Now please don't get me wrong, taking this route will be far from easy, however the work must be done nonetheless. I challenge each and everyone of us to take this journey. Let's get to work.