Longtime Trenton activist, Darren “Freedom” Green, is once again throwing his hat into the ring to take down the current Mayor of Trenton. Back in 2018, Green’s run for a chance at the Mayoral seat fell short, as Reed Gusciora took home more than 20 percent of the votes. However, Green is more determined than ever now to reclaim what he feels is his rightful position. As a Trenton native, who has never left the city, Green prides himself on being a fabric of the environment, and an individual with a keen understanding of the people within his city. As he enters the race once again, this time, Green wants to assure voters that he is more experienced in the political field, with an in-depth understanding of what Trenton and its residents need in order to push the city forward in the right direction.
Why did you decide to run for Mayor of Trenton?
I ran last time. It was an invigorating opportunity; I came in fourth. Really untrained, uncentered in knowing how to deal with politics. We moved through that particular election cycle just off of sheer will. We’re back now [and] experienced. We understand the city a lot better. We understand the nucleus of the city. We understand the depths of our dysfunction and we’re going to bring a skilled, qualified and committed team to the table to begin to move this city back by rebuilding the fundamental principals of good governance, good operations, good building, good information and good strategic action plans to move this city forward in every area of social development.
You were born and raised in Trenton. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of your friends and family move over the years, why did you decide to stay?
Yes, sir. I’ll be 53 this year, [and] I have never left this city. I have always been here. I’m committed to it. It’s the city I live in... it’s the city I was born…it’s the city I love. My father, Deacon Allen Green, was a director of Health and Human Services for the city of Trenton for over 40 years. I saw the life of Trenton leave out as he left out of office because the whole demographics changed. But this city was once thriving because it was a blue-collar city. That’s what ‘Trenton Makes the World Takes’ comes from. It was us producing not only jobs, but blue-collar families to live in the communities here. Right now, the majority of the city lives in an impoverished reality. Until we change that, nothing will change the trajectory of the city, and that’s what we’re going to work on.
Now, how can we help save some of the youth from killing each other and prevent other acts of violence plaguing our city?
First and foremost, we’ve got to rebuild families. Family is the first institution of learning, and as long as we have families where far too many parents are struggling economically and struggling to be parents, then we’re always going to have that dysfunction. We as a city must work with the non-profits, the governmental agencies and begin to rebuild families. I learned my principles, my morals, my expectations, my respect for others [from] my family. [Secondly,] our schools…must become an institution of learning that taps into the purpose of the babies, that taps into their focus, their energy, their ideas, and allows them to develop themselves as independent sources. Right now, I teach in schools and the babies go there mostly for socialization. There is no learning, no growth, no development, no challenging of themselves, and that must change. If you graduate and you’re functionally illiterate, what can you do other than crime and criminal behavior?
What about drugs? A lot of kids are heavy into drugs, they’re depressed, and some of them don’t feel like the adults are listening to them.
We have been on an onslaught since Ronald Reagan was in office with the war on drugs. That literally put our communities on a backslide, where we were dealing with the injection of crack cocaine into our communities, and we never recovered from that. We have to have a designed program that deals with the healing and rebuilding of our families in our community, from the addiction, from the mental health, from the trauma. Again, we’re not just traumatized from the deaths that occur here, it’s from the drugs, the poverty… it’s the demoralization of not having. When you live in communities like that where it’s concentrated, you begin to grow and think that the only thing you can have is nothing… and we normalize that. [Recently], a 16-year-old was killed. There was no outcry. We normalize putting Black and Brown bodies in the ground. That’s crazy. We have to begin to re-identify the values system for self, family, and community, so we can begin to move forward.
Trenton also has a huge immigration population; do you have a plan of action for undocumented immigrants who live in the city who can’t receive social services because of their status?
What I find to be best is to find best practices that’s happening across this country. Immigration is a common issue that’s been here historically. What we will do is bring in the best staff, the best professionals, the best directors to address that area in an expert matter. [We will also refer to] policy that moves our people towards being independent and allows them to become a part of the fabric of what we’re building. Do I have the answer off top? No, but will I bring in those who do have the answers.
What do you think of the current administration and council? How do you think they’re doing?
This council has to be one of the most dysfunctional and toxic groups I ever worked with, and they are the nucleus of why we’re going to the left. I don’t have anything bad to say about this Mayor, but he’s just not built to deal with the reality of an urban community. He was on the assembly for I think 24/25 years, but what policies were shaped when he was there that benefited and [propelled] Trenton forward? Somebody has to lead this city, [someone] who is about, for and understands the nuances of it. Look at the state of the city…we have to have a critical analysis of where we are, so we can understand how far we have to go to get to where we want to be.