Jeff Martin

Council president Jeff Martin announced at a Jan. 24 event that he will run for mayor of Hamilton Township.

The announcement sets up a race between Martin and Republican incumbent Kelly Yaede in the November general election.

Martin was joined at the event by a who’s who of the Democratic Party, including former Mercer County Sheriff Gil Lugossy, state Sen. Linda Greenstein, state Assemblymen Dan Benson and Wayne DeAngelo, Mercer County elected officials, and the mayors of Ewing, East Windsor and Hopewell Borough.

“It is time for real leadership in Hamilton,” Martin said at the event. “I’ve talked with residents from Yardville to Mercerville, Broad Street Park to Bromley, and they say the same thing; we need a new mayor who respects and supports our first responders; a new mayor who, while respecting Hamilton’s past, has a vision for its future; someone who will be a mayor for everyone—no matter your neighborhood.”

Kelly Yaede

To bolster his leadership credentials, Martin pointed to the fact there has yet to be a party-line vote since the Democrats took a 3-2 majority on council in 2018. Council has, however, clashed with Yaede on a number of issues, including allegations of mistreatment at the township animal shelter, the ongoing fire consolidation effort and decorum at council meetings.

Martin has claimed Yaede has lost touch with the people who elected her to office.

“This is our time to elect a new mayor who understands and represents our working-class values,” Martin said in his Jan. 24 speech. “I stand before you today asking for your support and your vote to give Hamilton a brighter future.”

Yaede, in an interview with the Post, pointed to the stalled fire consolidation effort and the fact that two police officers are now stationed at council meetings to help keep order as examples of failed leadership from council and Martin.

Martin and the Democrats, likewise, have pinned fault for the fire consolidation delay on Yaede and her administration. Martin, in his speech Jan. 24, also criticized Yaede for lacking vision for the town’s economic development, saying her administration has only brought in convenience stores and warehouses to town.

Coincidentally, Yaede counted economic development as one of her strong suits. Two new Wawa gas stations, a Walmart in the former Suburban Plaza, a Fedex fulfillment center on Route 130 and a senior living development at the corner of Klockner and Kuser roads are a few of the projects to come to Hamilton since Yaede took office.

She committed to running for re-election, saying she enjoys setting and achieving “audacious goals.”

“My record stands in stark contrast to his rhetoric and Washington politics,” Yaede said. “He would be more familiar with the great accomplishments of this town in areas like economic development if he lived in Hamilton for more than three years.

“Our community cannot afford a Glen Gilmore rerun.”

Gilmore, Hamilton’s last Democratic mayor, served from 2000 until 2008.

“I love this town,” Yaede said. “I love this job. I get to make an impact on my neighbors’ lives in a town I grew up in.”

Martin is an attorney by training and works as a commercial risk advisor for Borden Perlman. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and a member of American Legion Post 31. Martin received his bachelor’s from The College of New Jersey, his law degree from Rutgers Law School, and his master’s of law from the University of Connecticut Law School.

Yaede has been mayor since November 2012, when she was appointed to the position by township council following the resignation of John Bencivengo. She won re-election in 2013 and again in 2015. She previously served on the township Board of Education and township council.