Top Democrat in Mercer County gives up government car after leaving accident
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes is giving up his county vehicle after additional driving mishaps came to light.
The first incident, as reported by The Trentonian, was in 2020 when Pennsylvania State Police found a "very confused" Hughes walking along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Lawn Service Area after leaving his county-issued car on the side of the road. Hughes told the trooper he ran out of gas while racing in Paris.
County spokeswoman Julie Wilmot said the incident was related to a medical condition called trigeminal neuralgia, which can inflict severe pain to the nerves along his jaw. He takes medication prescribed by his doctor for the condition.
Wilmot said the executive's position, which is an elected office, is considered 24/7 and their county vehicle can be used anytime.
Following reports about this incident and one on Oct, 25, 2017, in which he crashed into a car in back of an STS Tire Store in Princeton, he was requested by the Mercer County Board of Commissioners to answer questions at Tuesday's meeting. During the meeting, he admitted to a third incident on Nassau Street in Princeton on April 19, 2017, but said it was "minor," according to a Trentonian report about the meeting.
A copy of the police report obtained by The Trentonian shows that Hughes struck a vehicle in the parking lot of Craft Cleaners and took off before police arrived, according to the Trentonian. He was found after a worker at the cleaners identified him as a regular customer.
Hughes admitted to hitting the vehicle but claimed that he had not heard the impact because he had the radio on, according to The Trentonian. He was not charged in any of the incidents, The Trentonian reported.
Hughes told the commissioners he "should" give up his county vehicle because of potential liability considerations and would consider having his driver's license reevaluated, according to the newspaper.
Wilmot told New Jersey 101.5 that Hughes will in fact give up his county vehicle and rely on an aide to drive him around for county business.
"Throughout his tenure he has relied on aides to shuttle him around when his calendar is full. The aides do other jobs as needed, clerical, constituent relations and so on. Mr. Hughes announced at the meeting on Tuesday that he will rely on his aide to drive him on all county business," Wilmot said.
Hughes has filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to run for reelection in 2023.