By Liya Davidov
The College’s political science department hosted Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora on Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium, where he addressed the challenges of urban cities and the critical role that millennials have in making a change in Trenton’s development.
The mayor discussed his plans for reinventing Trenton by focusing on its greatest concerns, which included economic development, water infrastructure, public safety and education.
“There seems to be always a disconnect between the Board of Education and the public school system and then the city government,” Gusciora said. “I believe the mayor should be actively involved in the education process.”
As a potential solution to the miscommunications between the Board of Education and the city government, Gusciora communicated his plans for an Innovative Learning Center where bordering colleges would have a presence in their capital city and would be able to connect undergraduates with the city’s high school students.
“I am a Trenton resident of my own,” said Aleecia Figueroa, a freshman psychology major. “I did experience a lot of the hardships of all the mayors that came in and kind of tarnished the name of Trenton. The city never knew what was going on with the Board of Education and the Board of Education never knew what was going on with the city.”
There are similar Community Engaged Learning programs throughout the College. During CEL days, students engage in community-based activities in surrounding neighborhoods that correspond to learning objectives within classroom settings. The College also has a Bonner program that provides students with opportunities to promote positive change in neighboring communities.
In addition to improving education, the mayor spoke about the need to develop the water infrastructure and enforce public safety. With one of the oldest running pipes in the nation, Trenton needs engineers to renew the watering system throughout the city. Regarding public safety, the mayor wants to look into drones and other creative ways to sustain a safer community.
The mayor also emphasized how the job market should rise with Trenton’s economic development. He said that the city is actively marketing its older factories to companies to create new business opportunities and assembly line employment. With growing business opportunities and reinvention strategies for Trenton, the mayor believes the city will eventually attract younger generations.
The mayor recognized how millennials want to be heard and involved and that he understood their hard-working capabilities. By promoting the career opportunities throughout Trenton, millennials would be inspired to apply their skills in the capital city.
“Millennials want that empowerment, want that independence and want a walkable city,” Gusciora said. “We are trying to make a fun city, a livable city that people can enjoy and take part in.”
Along with the celebration of Chinese New Year in downtown Trenton, Gusciora mentioned other plans to celebrate more cultural events, including Bastille Day and Jamaica’s Independence Day. The mayor believes that planning and executing community events will engage the residents of Trenton and bordering cities, which would create a more unified neighborhood that would also attract millennials.
Kendel Stiles, a senior political science major, has been involved with the city government since her sophomore year at the College. She used to work with State Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and in positions within the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Stiles is currently working for Gov. Phil Murphy.
“People don’t realize how up and coming Trenton is,” she said. “(Gusciora) is shedding a lot of light on the better side of Trenton that people don’t really talk about … He is definitely a mayor for the people.”
Gusciora emphasized that Trenton has a lot of potential to reinvent itself and build its reputation once again, given the city’s affordable residencies and career opportunities.
After addressing the challenges that arose and recognizing millennials’ critical roles in the city’s potential transformation, students felt that the mayor was trying to advocate for positive change in the capital city.
“I feel like he is on the right track, actually,” Figueroa said. “He has a lot of good ideas that can really grow Trenton as a whole.”