Forget crime, forget the fiscal disaster, and forget our failing schools. The key to winning the 2010 election in Trenton boils down to one simple issue: potholes.
Yesterday, Matthew, Steve and I walked around our neighborhood. I don't do this as often as we should, and it's not because I don't feel safe. I do feel safe. But, I don't like to be annoyed, and I have a gaggle of annoying neighbors up the block, and I'd rather not see them. But, we left the house after the school kids passed by, and before the knuckleheads awoke from their alcohol- and/or drug-induced stupor, and, so it was relatively quiet. It was a lovely morning, and we were not attacked by any unleashed pit bulls. Unleashed pit bulls are a concern these days since every pathetic gangsta cliché in the city must own one of these poor creatures.
While on our walk, I took note of the various political signs around my neighborhood. There weren't that many. Most of them were for John Harmon, and Eric Jackson; one for Shahid Avraham bin Whatshisnamethisyear graced the front of the knucklehead store across from DeLorenzo's on Hamilton Ave; and one on a home across from the high school displayed a sign for Paul Pintella, which he himself must have put up without the homeowner's permission, while he was driving around in his repaired PintellaMobile the other night.
When I got home, I reread Mr. Clean's brilliant post about Eric Jackson, and then, took a look at the comments. One of Jackson's dedicated campaign workers dobermaned Mr. Clean, kind of inappropriately, I think. But, I appreciate that kind of loyalty, if nothing else. The subsequent dialogue (if you can call it that) got me thinking about the potholes. Granted, I have not been to the debates this year, and because of that, I haven't offered many thoughts about the election, and I have no idea who's getting my vote (though I'm pretty excited by the just-announced write-in candidates). An aside: not a single east ward candidate has come by our house to stump; I also find it a bit sad that my large group of hopefuls is the least technologically savvy of all the candidates in the city. Aside from Verlina Reynolds-Jackson's site, and Joe Harrison's YouTube video, my candidates are the least represented on the web. The real, non-Facebook web. STEP IT UP, DUMMIES! Sheesh.
Anyway. The potholes. I realize many of us are oversimplifying Mr. Jackson's job by complaining about the city's abundant potholes. We assume — perhaps incorrectly, I don't know, as I've never filled a pothole — that potholes should be easy to fix. But people are mad as hell about the potholes, and the damage the potholes are doing to their cars, and rightfully so. Mr. Jackson has probably discussed this a bit at the debates, but he needs to do more. Here's why: I think people really do like Candidate Jackson, despite being fervently opposed to those associated with outgoing Doug Palmer's administration. But, the difference is that Jackson was appointed, not elected; Palmer was/is his boss, whereas members of city council should have been, in many ways, the boss of the mayor. Council holds the purse. Council decides which of the mayor's initiatives makes it into law, and which doesn't. Too often over these last 20 years, Trenton City Council members have played dead when Palmer walked into the room, and/or buried their faces way up his asscrack, and it's unforgivable, because we elected them to represent us, and not act as Princess Leia to Palmer's Jabba the Hutt.
So, people like Jackson well enough, but he's dropped the ball on the potholes, as a concept and rallying cause, and also in a very literal sense, because the city is filled with them, and it shouldn't be. Who cares if the parks aren't safe, or the alleys are filled with construction debris dumped illegally? WE WANT A SMOOTH DRIVING SURFACE, okay? It really isn't that much to ask. I think many of us also want our next mayor to be a little more hands-on than the outgoing Esquire-magazine-posing poser. Jackson has a golden opportunity in this homestretch: he can roll up his damn sleeves, and get out to Ferry, and Lalor, and Market, and South Frigging Broad, and Clearfield, and Perry, etc. etc. etc. and pour some asphalt into the craters in the streets. Then, he can smile for the camera, and he'll win the hearts of the people.
If he doesn't take this weekend to fill potholes, he's a fool, and doesn't deserve to be mayor. If he passes on this opportunity, hopefully one of the other candidates will spend some of his/her election funds on asphalt, and get out there and fill these holes him/herself. Time is running out. Let's go. Whoever fills the most potholes might just win this election.