Rumors that Councilwoman Cordelia Staton is to become the next City Clerk have many people hopping mad.
Like the backroom plan to get South Ward resident Carlos Avila into that ward’s City Council seat following the departure of Jim Coston this past summer, it has nothing to do with the person, but instead, the process.
Trenton has loads of problems, and like Councilman Manny Segura said last night, there needs to be a competitive process to fill this potentially six-figure, crucial position with the best candidate.
Ms. Staton may be the best person for the job, but our city needs to find out by advertising the position, vetting candidates, and settling the position based on merit, rather than political maneuvering in the rabbit’s warren of halls at 319 E. State Street.
It doesn’t help that Ms. Staton’s clerk arrangement comes at a time when people working in outgoing mayor Douglas Palmer’s administration are known to be negotiating with potential mayoral candidates to secure employment in the next city administration.
It also doesn’t help that many believe Ms. Staton’s emergence on council represented a patronage power play related to her work on the 1999 city referendum that gave Trenton a police department led by a politicized civilian director rather than an independent police chief.
With all these issues in the background, Trenton’s leaders need to make sure our city sees a fair process for filling the City Clerk’s position, which is of utmost importance in the workings of city government.
This office is supposed to be independent of both the mayor and council, acting like a type of umpire or secretary while maintaining city laws and conducting elections and other business.
Deciding who to put there is no laughing matter.