The latest development in the continued controversy over South Ward Councilman Jim Coston’s decision to resign on Sept. 2 is that a shadowy organization that few have ever heard of has emerged to endorse school district employee and Doug Palmer critic-turned supporter Juan Martinez for succeeding the outgoing councilman.
The endorsement seems to have raised eyebrows both in Trenton and beyond.
County Democratic Chair Richard McLellan questioned the move, noting real party organizations do not openly endorse candidates in a municipality that holds non-partisan elections such as Trenton, according to The Times of Trenton.
Mr. Coston, when confronted with the endorsement last week, rejected the group’s injection of racial overtones into the debate after its leader, Carmen Melendez, said “he should have consulted” with Latinos before supporting 26-year-old Juan Carlos Avila for the seat.
Kudos to Mr. Coston for recognizing that race should have nothing to do with the qualifications of his successor.
The councilman should now, however, recognize that the only responsible thing to do is to resign his seat ahead of the Sept. 2 date, thus allowing the South Ward voters to elect a successor in the November General Election.
Behind-the-scenes dealings, the injection of race, and the endorsements of shadowy groups with members from outside the South Ward point to a high likelihood that an appointment process held by City Council, instead of a special election, could result in an unworthy successor taking a seat in council chambers.
South Ward voters, as Mr. Coston should know, deserve better.