3 vie for 2 spots in Tuesday’s election

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON – A decision is needed Tuesday by voters. But since only one choice is required – which two of the three candidates for mayor will move forward to November’s general election – city officials expect participation to be low.

“The polls will be light with only one issue,” Mayor Gerald Brown said. “I’m not sure it’ll generate enough interest for people to leave their daily routine.”

Brown shares the nonpartisan ballot with City Clerk Kyle Stack and local businessman Steven McNeeley. The top two vote-getters will face off in November, an election that will include three city council seats. Incumbents Dan Gillespie, William LeFevre and MaryEllen McLeod are seeking re-election, with challenger Robert Howey vying for one of the seats.

Brown, a former police officer and member of the Trenton Public Schools Board of Education, has served as mayor for 10 years. Earlier this year he considered ending his tenure and not seeking re-election.

That speculation attracted the interest of Stack, who’s held the clerk’s job for 26 years. Initial questions about her retirement pension eligibility were satisfied by the state Municipal Employees’ Retirement System board, which signed a waiver May 11 that allowed the longtime elected official to seek the mayor’s office without compromising her benefits.

What started as a concern that voters would not have qualified choices became an earnest campaign, and Stack said she has much to offer the city in terms of experience and passion.

“It’s time to move forward as a leader in this community and this area,” Stack said of Trenton and a city staff she applauded for professionalism. Stack, as with Brown, anticipates a low turnout Tuesday. The most recent mayoral primary Stack knew of was in 1985, which attracted just 10 percent of registered voters.

McNeeley, owner of McNeeley Enterprises Heating and Cooling, is making his first bid for public office, and said that “younger views” were needed at City Hall.

Brown said he’s confident that, given the low-profile nature of the primary, he and Stack are likely to advance after Tuesday’s balloting.

“It doesn’t matter who comes in first,” Brown said of the votes. “Then the real campaign starts.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)