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AFSCME New Jersey member answers the call to serve in elected office

Trenton City Councilwoman Crystal Feliciano (left), with AFSCME New Jersey Executive Director Steve Tully, AFSCME New Jersey President Ron McMullen and AFSCME International Vice President Debbie Parks. Photo credit: Crystal Feliciano
AFSCME New Jersey member answers the call to serve in elected office
By Mark McCullough ·

Taking it easy has never been Crystal Feliciano’s style.

She’s always looking for ways to use her financial background to improve her community, which explains why she teaches finance at a high school in Trenton, New Jersey. She’s always looking for ways to learn what her community needs and work with others to fulfill those needs.

That led Crystal to a second job as part-time accountant for Trenton Water Works while still teaching school. And she has never been afraid to step up and serve, leading her to be an active member in AFSCME New Jersey Council 63 as well as the New Jersey Education Association.

“I’ve been involved, I’ve seen where the roadblocks to change are, so I needed a political platform to shine a light on the steps we can do to help people succeed,” Feliciano said in a recent interview with AFSCME Now.

Even though it wouldn’t be easy, Feliciano knew it was time to take the plunge and run for Trenton City Council.

It was a step she knew she couldn’t take lightly, so she put in the time to learn all she could by participating in the New Jersey AFL-CIO Labor Candidates Program and talking to Council 63 leadership about her campaign.

“My AFSCME family taught me a lot and really supported me every step of the way because, like with anything else, they want to see their brother or sister succeed,” said Feliciano.

Feliciano was able to advance from the Nov. 8 election and placed second overall in the Jan. 24 runoff by uniting with two other candidates who share her focus on equitable economic development. She was sworn into office on Feb. 10.

She said one of the hardest things she did was resigning her Local 2286 membership when she ended her Water Works position in order to avoid any conflict of interest with her current position as councilwoman at large. She was allowed to retain her high school teaching position.

“I’m still going to keep my ear to the ground by popping into (AFSCME) meetings not just to say hi but to hear what is really going on with our city employees,” said Feliciano.

She has a clear message for other AFSCME members who may be considering a campaign of their own for elected office: “Go for it. Just do it. If you are engaging people from the heart, that will come through, and they will see you are doing it for the right reasons and will support you.”

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