Silvestri drops out of Trenton mayoral race, endorses Gusciora

TRENTON >> Only one week into the mayoral campaign and the pool of candidates has already shrunk by one.

Newcomer Michael Silvestri told The Trentonian on Monday that he is dropping out of the mayoral race, leaving seven other candidates to fight for the city’s top spot.

“It’s not for any political reason,” Silvestri explained of his decision on Monday. “It’s a personal issue. I lost my job last week and I need to focus on finding full-time employment. I don’t feel comfortable looking for a full-time job and not telling them that I’m running for mayor. If I were to win, I would feel bad that I would have to resign from that job.”

Silvestri, a virtual unknown, surprised last week when he secured 439 petitions to run for mayor, which is nearly 50 more than the required amount of 390.

The first-time candidate said he garnered the signatures the old-fashioned way.

“I did everything myself,” Silvestri said, noting his mother was his campaign manager. “I personally went door-to-door ... letting people know who I am, letting people hear from me ... I wanted everybody to know who I was, not campaign volunteers going door-to-door, asking people to sign petitions.”

Silvestri is already endorsing a candidate after suddenly bowing out of the race. He said he met last week with Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), a person he called a “stand-up man.”

“He’s honest, he has good integrity and he also has the best interest for the city of Trenton,” Silvestri said of the assemblyman who works as a municipal prosecutor in Lawrence and Princeton. “He’s a very good man.”

Gusciora did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about Silvestri’s endorsement.

When Silvestri announced, the only two other mayoral candidates were Councilman Alex Bethea and Paul Perez, who was 2014’s runner-up. He also assumed Mayor Eric Jackson would be seeking re-election..

“I knew I had a solid campaign against them,” Silvestri said. “I wanted to let people know the truth about what was going on in the previous administration.”

After Jackson announced he was out, the race expanded to include community activist Darren “Freedom” Green, Gusciora, Councilman Duncan Harrison, former Councilwoman Annette Lartigue and Mercer County Deputy Clerk Walker Worthy, who finished third in the 2014 race.

Silvestri also took some potshots at his former competitors. He said Bethea and Perez only care about themselves and that Worthy is the “worst candidate” for aligning himself with former Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer and former city Councilman Manny Segura.

“For many years — before Doug Palmer — Trenton has been going downhill,” Silvestri said. “I love Trenton more than anything and I want to see Trenton rebound.”

Silvestri, who has family members who have worked for New Jersey governors and at state offices, intends to seek office in the future.

He told the Trentonian late Monday night that he signed a letter of intent to run as a Mercer County freeholder on the Republican ticket for November’s election.

Reed Gusciora