By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Tuesday may be a long evening for Mayor Gerald Brown and former Clerk Kyle Stack as they vie for the city’s top elected position: Incumbent Brown is seeking to continue the job he’s held for 10 years; Stack stepped down from a quarter-century service as clerk to run for mayor.
Given the result of the August primary, in which Stack drew 1,371 votes against Brown’s 869 as the two advanced to the general election, both candidates recognize that getting support at the polls Tuesday is the key.
“I have a lot of supporters that didn’t show up,” Brown said of the August preliminary contest, which attracted 16 percent of Trenton’s registered voters. “My supporters are talking it up pretty good.”
The typically-low primary election turnout wasn’t a surprise, and both candidates anticipate upwards of 40 percent will cast a ballot Tuesday. Stack said that participation is critical to best determine the will of the people.
“The most important thing is to use the right to vote,” said Stack, whose perspective as longtime clerk is one of knowing the community’s involvement in local government. “Quite a few people watch the council meetings on TV. A lot of people are well-versed as to what’s going on.”
Tuesday’s ballot is a candidate-only form this year, with Brown and Stack squaring off for mayor, and four candidates seeking three city council seats. Incumbents Dan Gillespie, Wlliam LeFevre and MaryEllen McLeod seeking re-election and challenger Robert Howey looking for a seat on the panel. The six city council positions are elected to four-year terms, with three seats expiring every two years.
Both mayoral candidates agreed that the most pressing issues facing Trenton are those related to maintaining what the city offers its residents. Average property values have dropped by about 20 percent in the past three years, each decline resulting in revenue reductions.
In spite of such financial reports, the city has not — unlike many Downriver communities — been forced to lay off staff or severely reduce services.
Based on that, Brown said voters should recognize what is or isn’t working.
“I know the direction I’m taking our city right now is the proper one,” Brown said. “Its not the time to change gavel holders. We’re still trying to come out of this thing.”
Stack said her credentials for the position include time spent welcoming residents to city hall and listening to what’s on their minds.
“People are concerned about the businesses, we have empty store fronts,” Stack said. “We can make the community a better place. We’ve gotten to the level of good, we need to make it great.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)