‘Bright star’ for a troubled town

Heralded as the “bright star” Camden has waited painfully long for to lead the city out of its derelict poverty and crime, new Mayor Dana Redd’s term kicked off with a ceremony fit for royalty yesterday.

Redd, 41, who rose through the state Democratic machine from humble beginnings as a 28-year-old graduate of Rutgers-Camden and an aide to a county freeholder, was sworn in before state lawmakers, fellow mayors including Michael Nutter and outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine.

“I think you are all making a giant statement about the state of leadership in Camden,” Corzine told a packed Rutgers auditorium of more than 600.

Leadership in Camden is exactly what many in the crime-plagued city have long questioned and not everyone is ready to proclaim Redd the bridge to a new beginning.

“Where is the money to carry out her goals? Where is the commitment?” asked the Rev. Willie Anderson, a longtime leader with Camden Churches Organized for the People. “I do know this, progressively over the last 30 years where we’ve had black or Hispanic leadership in this city, the living conditions have gotten progressively worse and everyone is always giving the same promises.”

Redd promised yesterday to “empower the residents” of Camden and to reform government. Most government functions are now overseen by a state-appointed chief operating officer.

“Remain faithful and believe we can change Camden,” she said.

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