【N.J】 Water questions led to more questions in the Trenton Council saga (L.A. PARKER COLUMN) – – – New Jersey News

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A Trenton Water Works employee said the residence occupied by Councilwoman Yazminelly Gonzalez and boyfriend Joshua Baker had no water meter connection during his visit in the summer of 2022.

“I was sent there to make sure (the house) was ready for a meter to be installed. There was no meter because no one was living there,” he said.

Pressed about who ordered the installation, the employee advised a call to the mayor’s office for clarity. “I’m not really allowed to be speaking about this. I can’t put my job in jeopardy,” he added. He ended the phone call but his insights added more intrigue about Gonzalez’s residency.

The matter found closure last week when Superior Court Judge William Anklowitz dismissed a complaint that asked he vacate the at-large city council seat occupied by Gonzalez based on residency questions and a seat held by Jasi Edwards. Former Councilwoman Robin Vaughn argued that Edwards’ pre-election conviction for shoplifting, should have meant disqualification.

Of all the information provided by Vaughn in her attempt to unseat At-large Councilwoman Gonzalez, one accusation had no real explanation — limited water usage.

Vaughn alleged minuscule use occurred during several months Gonzalez and Baker allegedly lived in the 449 Parkway Ave. residence. The displaced former councilwoman said that the water meter hookup occurred in August 2022, significantly after the time Gonzalez said she had moved in with her boyfriend Baker in February 2021. Testimony by the TWW employee corroborated that assertion.

Election rules require candidates reside in Trenton for at least one year prior to seeking election. Gonzalez met that condition by almost two weeks.

While Superior Court Judge Anklowitz offered a thorough walk-through of his decision to dismiss a complaint against Gonzalez and Edwards, my mind kept thinking about water, especially when my body yearned for a bathroom break. Anklowitz’ appreciated dedication to pragmatism could test the efficiency of most bladders.

In September 2022, Michael Walker, a Trenton Water Works information office, ran interference for Gonzalez on the water use question.

Do not provide any information about the account: 449 Parkway Ave.,” Walker was caught on tape telling TWW staffers. “This is very important. You might have a reporter calling here [inaudible] so they can get information. They’re going to try to get you to give billing information about the account, what is the usage of the [owner]. Don’t provide any information about the account.”

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora feigned ignorance when questioned by a – reporter about Walker’s information blockade.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Gusciora claimed. “I have not instructed any public information officer not to give out public information.”

If Gusciora showed any interest in transparency, he would have instructed Walker to provide information about the Parkway Ave. property. Instead, Gusciora, who later endorsed Gonzalez’ campaign, even paid for rental space headquarters for her and slate partners, Jasi Edwards and Crystal Feliciano, added no other information or leadership on the matter.

Anklowitz provided plaintiffs Vaughn, Mary Horne, Evangeline Ugorji and Taiwanda Wilson with insights about their initiative to oust Gonzalez. He noted testimony by neighbors could have strengthened their case. Plus, a request for an adjournment and 30 days to find counsel produced no efforts made to engage an attorney.

Anklowitz noted a list of attorneys contacted and potential costs could have attracted different outcomes although a late filing doomed the legal action. Vaughn did establish that Gonzalez voted in a Hamilton election while allegedly living in Trenton.

An interesting aspect of the litigation involved several other residents who had wanted to challenge the Gonzalez residency question but had no desire to join forces with Vaughn.

On another issue, while Ms. Edwards should not have faced disqualification for her retail theft conviction, a misdemeanor, she misrepresented this low point in her life. Edwards told Judge Anklowitz associates had described her offense as similar to a ticket for jaywalking.

Hardly. Humility matters when voters entrust politicians who have made critical mistakes that could impact trust.

Finally, a discussion with a Gonzalez supporter produced disagreement with an opinion that residency should represent an easy inquiry as candidates pursue office.

It’s amazing how political affiliations cause the loss of objectivity.

Hopefully, Anklowitz’ decision ends another dysfunctional moment in the City of Trenton.

L.A. Parker is a – columnist. Find him on Twitter @LAParker6 or email him at LAParker@-.com.

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