Meet the Candidate: Yazminelly Gonzalez

Trenton City Council At-Large candidate, Yazminelly Gonzalez, lived most of her life in Trenton, New Jersey. She attended Trenton Central High School and went on to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where she earned a bachelor's degree in science majoring in special education. Yazminelly, the product of Puerto Rican parents with roots grounded in politics, wants Trentonians to know that she is just like them and will make sure their voices are heard.

As the eldest of two children of Juan and Carmen Martinez, Yazminelly moved from Philadelphia to Trenton at the age of one. Her father’s involvement in politics is where her love for community was born. “My father ran for city council in the 2000’s. Although he didn’t have a seat, he continued to do the work for the city,” said Yazminelly during her Zoom interview with the Trenton Journal at the very park named after her late father. After his passing in 2015, Yazminelly’s drive was set-in motion and she vowed to continue her father's legacy and community work. The West Ward native’s soft heart for children with special needs led her to return to her hometown after attending college to embark on a career as a special needs educator. “I wanted to come back and work with our youth. When I was growing up in Trenton, I felt like some of my classmates were placed in special education classes for the wrong reasons.” Focusing on autism for most of her 19-year career, Yazminelly, teaches life skills for children with autism at Trenton 9th Grade Academy. Yazminelly’s love of seeing her students’ progress socially and academically is one of her many rewards.

Yazminelly also finds pleasure, as well as purpose in the several positions that she holds as a community servant throughout the city. She is currently the Vice President of the TUFF Foundation (Trenton United Family Foundation) which is an organization created to follow in her father’s community service footsteps that partners with other local establishments to provide clothing and food for families in need. Yazminelly is also a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and serves as the co-chair for the Social Action Committee, and the secretary for the Marco Dillard Scholarship committee, treasurer of the Trenton Puerto Rican Day Parade and has just been appointed to the Trenton Literacy Movement and the Old Trenton Barracks Board. “My involvement in the community is just pretty much trying to connect with the people and service their needs when needed and to try to help the community out as much as possible,” Yazminelly explained.

The At-Large candidate believes that her extensive time assisting Trentonians provides her with an advantage over other At-Large candidates and makes her relatable to the public. “My direct connection to the community is an asset to city council, my involvement in several organizations and being out and around people has allowed me to see the concerns and needs of our people and I just want to be a voice for them. They feel as if they know me, so I can help build that trust between the community and the elected officials at city hall.”

Soon after Yazminelly’s official announcement to run for city council, she was overwhelmed to receive so much positive and supportive feedback from her family and community. “I didn’t realize the amount of support I had. It was very humbling to know that so many people want to see me in office right now. I think it’s more so because we’ve been around each other. They’ve seen the work I’ve done. Just having adults call and say, ‘I’ve never voted a day in my life and I’m 40-something years old and I want to make sure I vote for you’. [Makes me]excited to know that I’m getting that energy and motivating people to want to vote and to exercise their right.”

Not only has Yazminelly received support from the public, but current Councilman At-Large, Santiago Rodriguez, recently announced his resignation from City Council and called for his At-Large seat to be filled by Yazminelly. Surprised by his actions, the educator thanked the Councilman and all other members of council for their service to the city. “If appointed and voted upon, of course I would not decline, but it is something that is surprising to know,” she said. What matters most to Yazminelly as she runs for office is the people. She hopes to be a representative of the city and to make sure that the city council has a diverse group of individuals serving in order to properly address the needs of Trentonians. “Where do we leverage our tax dollars to demonstrate the needs and values of the city, which should be the people? I have a genuine love for our city, and I truly want to keep their needs and concerns as a top priority if elected as councilwoman At-Large."

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