Standing outside of Trenton City Hall on a Thursday afternoon, new Mayor Eric Jackson has a bit of a local celebrity following.
Cars are honking as they drive by and residents are darting over to his side of the street, waiting for their chance to shake his hand.
It’s not hard to understand why they’re excited. Prior to Jackson assuming office earlier this summer, the city’s mayor, Tony Mack, made local, regional and even national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Mack, first elected back in 2010, was convicted and sentenced in May to nearly five years in prison following a federal corruption probe that gripped the city for more than a year.
For Jackson, a Trenton native who also previously served as the director of public works in the city, part of his job in his first few months of office has been to restore public trust and fight the perception that all politicians are cut from the same cloth.
“I am Trenton,” Jackson says. “I represent who Trenton is.
“I took on this job because I believe Trenton can be a great city. We have a lot of hard work to do, we have a lot of bridges to mend. … But when I hear people say it doesn’t make a difference, my response is, it can make a difference if you and I work together to make it make a difference.”
And it’s not just the public he’s trying to win over. Days before he was even inaugurated, Jackson had his first sit-down with Gov. Chris Christie, a vocal critic of Mack’s.
Members of the business community, specifically the regional and state chambers of commerce in the area, also are high on Jackson’s list.
NJBIZ sat down with Jackson at Trenton City Hall earlier this month to discuss some of his short- and long-term plans for the capital city:
NJBIZ: Take me through what’s it’s been like since July 1, when you were sworn-in.