Cherie Garrette, Trenton Housing Authority (THA) Commissioner and mayoral candidate for the 2022 local election, sat down with the Trenton Journal to talk about her campaign and the current state of the city. Garrette explains why she is the best candidate for mayor, her political experience, and her plans to rehab the city of Trenton. Garrette has extensive experience with business innovation, financial management, and management consulting. She is knowledgeable about policies and procedures regarding private sectors and municipal, state, and federal governments, according to the THA.
Many people want to know who you are and what you are about. What made you decide to run for mayor?
My mother and I were at a gathering. I think it was a meet-and-greet at the time. It was Doug Palmer [running] and not [to be] judgmental or anything I just thought he wasn't a good candidate. I [felt] he wasn't prepared. I was excited about the fact that he was black, [but] you just got to have the right people making the right choices. I watched this brother and his administration to see how well he would do. So it was exciting [when] he was elected I did vote for him. And you know, [after] his third term, it was going downhill. As far as my point of view, in the fourth term, we were bankrupt, losing our assets. It was petty stuff going on…infighting, stuff like that, and I was like, you know what, I think I can do this job.
People want to know your background. Were you born and raised in Trenton? Did you attend college?
I was born in Trenton at St. Francis Hospital. I was here probably until [the age of] three or four. My parents relocated to Hamilton for a bit because my father [was] from Hamilton Township and then we moved, and purchased a house in Browns Mills, New Jersey. We relocated to West Windsor. My grandfather had a house built off of Route 1 and we stayed there, and that's why I was able to attend to West Windsor-Plainsboro school district. I finished up ninth grade there and then we relocated to Trenton, Humboldt Street in North Trenton. And that's where I entered into Trenton High in 10th grade and from there I graduated in 1983. [And] yes, I have an undergraduate degree in finance at Rider.
From left to right Cherie Garrette, Reverend Charles Boyer, and Mayor Reed Gusciora at the NAACP/Trenton Journal Mayoral Candidate Forum at Shiloh Baptist Church in September
What did you have to do to prepare to enter this race?
I ran for city council when Tony Mack was running [for] his first term. So that was my first experience in the political arena, the petitions, how to go about checking who was registered, figuring out how to get people involved with voter registration and stuff like that. So that was my first experience getting into a political race. I was [also] involved with Wanda Stansbury’s [campaign]. I kind of watched what was happening behind the scenes with that. Between that and working [with] Kathy McBride [current Council President] who previously ran for mayor. I wouldn’t say I worked on her campaign, but I gave whatever support I could give her just watching, observing, [and] helping to prepare. She was very informational.
How do you feel running against McBride since you have a personal connection with her?
My campaign is not personal. She's about the city, but I'm about the city, and I think I'm a better choice. Because of my insight, [I’m] able to address the problems. [I’ve] worked with people in small startups and existing businesses. Just being in the trenches with people, either making decisions [regarding] money moves, or oversight and making sure that government entities are compliant with the law. I have a knack for business. It's just something that's in me. So I just think I'm a better choice. I think I'm at a point in my life where I make good choices. And I look at things from a perspective of what's a win-win for all parties. [I look] at the stakeholders involved, not what’s going to benefit one particular person; it's got to be a win-win for all entities whatever the project is. Just make it happen!
Do you think by entering the race, you're taking away votes that may go to other black women running for mayor? You have Robin Vaughn, Kathy McBride, and now you're here. If voters don't want Robin and Kathy in office they may naturally choose you. Have you ever thought about that?
Of course! I actually had the conversation that we need to come to together collectively. Robin and Kathy, and other folks, because [there’s] many people who support all three of us, that's the problem. When I stated, I was going to get in the race it was around October of 2021. I mean, this is a lot of pressure on somebody. I'm not in the race by myself. I got my family. So whatever happens to me affects my family.
How would you be a mayor for all the people in the city in terms of various demographics living here?
I would set up committees, maybe a committee for those different areas and I will have those groups come in during those town halls. I will speak to them directly. Find out, you know, what is it that I need to approve or improve as mayor. What is it that you need from me to help you with your group's quality of life? Developing a relationship and an alliance is the only way to do it.
Why should people vote for you?
Because I understand the issues. I love Trenton. I know that I can make the right decisions for Trenton. I just got to figure out how to meet the mental health needs. I’m hiring homegrown people to come in here and rehab these buildings. The issue is not always about what the government can do. I only could do so much; I can do 50 %. I can bring those initiatives, I can bring those programs and set up these projects to come in and renovate these homes and come up with suggestions for policing or change how policing is done. But what are you going to do?
Is there anything else you want to get across to people who will read your story before Election Day?
I wanted to share that I'm ready to bring the jobs and create initiatives. I see the money as far as creating employment. I know how to make it happen. I’ve researched. Things are lacking at City Hall; the services are lacking or non-existent, but we're paying for them. I know I can rehab the majority of the city. I can tap into various entities to bring in more money and revenue streams which will revitalize the companies with American Rescue funds. There's so much we can do within the community.
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