My name is Kadja Manuel, and I'm running for Trenton City Council, At-Large in my hometown of Trenton, New Jersey. My story is a bonified Trenton success story. I'm a young professional with private, federal, and military experience. I understand and know the business model of success and how a thriving town should look.
I know what it means and what it's like to rely on the system, pull myself up from my bootstraps, and persevere when all feels lost and as if no one within the local government supports you. It's evident that Trenton has a dysfunctional government, and I'm the right person to come in and fix it. Trentonians need to know that just because one or two vertebrae in the backbone of the city's structure is out of place, that doesn't mean that there is no hope. The consistent voters, and even the first-time voters, have monumental levels of power within this town-I'm here to empower them. I'm a son of Trenton, and I am eager to earn your trust and your vote.
I come from a large blended family, and I'm the oldest of 14 awesome siblings. I'm of African-American and Puerto Rican Heritage and what people nowadays would consider "mixed"; my mother being African American and my father, Puerto Rican. Growing up and being the oldest sibling taught me a lot. I was born at what used to be Mercer Hospital that was located on Bellevue Avenue and raised on Stuyvesant Avenue. Growing up until I finished high school, I don't think that I ever lived in a house that had fewer than seven or eight people in it. It's something that my brother, J'von, and I laugh about a lot now. My mom, a strong black woman who worked a full-time job, but still extended herself and was always there for our family on both sides. At any time and for any reason where someone needed housing, my parents stepped up. We've had some cousins live with us a few times. We've had an aunt, an uncle, and sometimes even a few families in a single-family three-bedroom home. We did what we had to do to get by and make it work. That is how I'm uniquely different than most politicians in this town and this state. I can identify with the struggles of this town.
I know what it's like to go through rough patches in life, and I also know what it's like to overcome obstacles that may, at times, feel unprecedented and unfair. The first Trenton public school that I attended was Mott Elementary School. Then Robbins Elementary School, Bayard: Robbins Annex, and Grace A. Dunn Middle School. I have relatives all over Trenton, New Jersey. My grandmother, the woman who taught me about God, lived in the Kingsbury Towers for most of my childhood up until she died in 2012. My siblings and I grew up all over- South Broad Street in Chambersburg, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, and Hamilton Avenue in South Trenton. We even lived on Overbrook Ave in West Trenton and, more recently, West Miller Street over in the North Ward.