Gusciora turns to old allies in Asbury Park

In his pursuit for the Trenton mayorship, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is doing one thing the rest of the candidates can’t – he’s looking to get help from outside of the city.

At a Friday night fundraiser in Asbury Park – some 39 miles from the state’s capital – Gusciora, who has served in the General Assembly for 22 years, was surrounded by longtime friends and LGBT activists and elected officials who would like to see Trenton elect its first openly-gay mayor.

“When we see something like Trenton, which is on that upswing, we want to make sure that people that we know that have that grit, that determination get elected in Trenton,” said Asbury Park Democratic Chairman Joe Grillo. “Reed has been in the assembly since 1996 and has taken no shit from anybody either, including the former governor, so that’s what we need in our cities.”

The fundraiser, attended by, among others, Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp, Garden State Equality executive director Christian Fuscarino and Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, could provide Gusciora with the financial push he needs to beat the other six candidates running for office.

So far, Gusciora, with $42,188 raised, has been locked in a tight fundraising race with Mercer County Deputy Clerk Walker Worthy, who leads the Assemblyman with $43,605 raised. 2014 runner up Paul Perez trails behind the two.

Gusciora said he hoped the night would net him between $5,000 and $10,000 – money he’ll need as the May 8 election enters its final stage.

In a text message the morning after, Gusciora said that they had hit the mark they aimed for and raised more than $5,000.

But Gusciora didn’t come to Asbury Park just to fundraise. Dave Parano, the veteran Democratic operative that ran the get out the vote program that helped win Gov. Phil Murphy the Democratic nomination last year, will be running a similar operation for Gusciora.

“My entire team … there’s 12 of them now, they’re all getting ready to start an impressive GOTV operation, something the likes of Trenton hasn’t seen in a long time,” Parano told the throng of partygoers standing on a top-floor balcony of Asbury Park’s Steinbach Building.

The location may be apt in more ways than one. Gusciora said he plans to achieve a revival in Trenton similar to the one that has made Asbury Park one of the state’s most desirable towns.

“If you want to transform a city, you need to bring arts, music and gay people, and you can transform any urban area,” Gusciora said. “And, I really believe that about Trenton. It has so much potential – the art, the history and George Washington even coming into town. So, I think Trenton’s days are ahead, and I’d like to be there to transform that city.”

Reed Gusciora