NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Kevin Jones is one of six employees in New Brunswick’s Office of the Mayor, in addition to Mayor James Cahill.
And now the City Council has appointed him back into another position of power, one that he resigned from last year for mysterious reasons.
By order of the Council, Jones will again serve as one of seven voting members on the Housing Authority’s Board of Commssioners, a body that also serves as the city’s redevelopment agency.
The appointment is effective through April 3, 2014. That means Jones will have a vote on all projects proposed to be built in the city’s fifteen “redevelopment areas.”
Jones had previously served on the board for several terms, but resigned for “personal reasons,” according to Housing Authority Executive Director John Clarke.
“Commissioner Jones resigned for personal reasons last year,” said Clarke, adding that Jones’ resignation became official “sometime in the fall or late summer.”
Cahill also had appointed Jones to sit on the city’s powerful Planning Board as well as the Traffic Commission. He did not formally resign from either of those boards, though his attendance has been poor.
And it seems that he did not take a leave of absence from his job at City Hall, though he did come under investigation for possessing absentee ballots he was not authorized to possess in a city park during the June 2010 primary election.
Jones was first hired to work for Cahill in December 1996 and now makes $60,789 each year as his aide.
From the very beginning, he has been a controversial figure in city politics, and an ardent supporter of Cahill during his election campaigns.
In 2000, a 23-year-old Rutgers student filed charges that Jones punched him in the face outside of the Lord Stirling Elementary School on election day. The student was campaigning to change the city’s school board to be elected by voters rather than appointed by Cahill.
Ten years later, Cahill faced his toughest challenge, a primary fight with local attorney Patricia Bombelyn. Gideon Weisberg, a volunteer for her campaign spotted Jones with a stack of mail-in ballots in Recreation Park.
Weisberg returned later with a videocamera and an attorney.
Jones reacted bizarrely, shouting at the two and slapping the camera out of the Weisberg’s hand in a video that would become a hit on YouTube.
“What you guys doing taking pictures?” Jones asks in the video.
After campaign attorney William Ayala answers, “It’s a beautiful day man, the trees look great.”
Jones then bids them farewell and starts to turn away. But then he decides against it and starts to demand that they identify themselves.
Jones comes back to the passenger side of the vehicle and asks seven times, “Who are you guys?” before he smacks the camera from Weisberg’s hand and attempts to confiscate it.
Despite Cahill’s victory in the primary, his administration took a hit as the video was aired on News12 New Jersey, and has been seen over 12,000 times on YouTube.
The same day that Jones’ boss defeated Bombelyn by a 3:2 margin, a judge found that there was probable cause to charge Jones with illegally possessing the ballots.
Charges against Jones were not pursued, for reasons unknown. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Middlesex County Board of Elections office after Cahill prevailed in the uncontested general election later that year.
The FBI confirmed they were looking into the New Brunswick mayoral election.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.