This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – On the afternoon of Wednesday, June the 6th, on the steps of City Hall in the heart of New Brunswick, a longtime resident, and editor of this publication, Charlie Kratovil, formally announced his candidacy for the mayor of New Brunswick.
Kratovil, known to locals for his advocacy against corruption in the city as well as watchdog reporting on government affairs, is challenging incumbent Mayor James Cahill who is running for re-election to the 8th term in office.
The day prior to the announcement Kratovil successfully submitted more than 125 signatures that went unchallenged and his name will appear on the ballots in November.
This challenge by Kratovil marks the first time since 2006 that an independent candidate is challenging the current mayor as well as the first electoral challenge to the incumbent mayor since 2010.
Molly O’Brien, a personal acquaintance, and supporter of Kratovil came to City Hall in a show of support. She said that Mayor Cahill has been in office 1991 – the year she was born – and that it was time for a change.
Approximately 30 supporters gathered in front of City Hall for Kratovil’s announcement and an outline of his platform as a candidate for mayor.
Khahlidra Hadhazy, a New Brunswick resident, and local real estate agent kicked off the event by announcing her support for the candidate as she proceeded to welcome all supporters and introduced local activist Teresa Vivar – a key organizer of the large Hispanic population of New Brunswick – to speak to the gathered audience.
“I really appreciate that being so young, he’s trying to give us the hope of democracy in our city,” said Vivar in regards to Kratovil’s candidacy. “I think it’s important to have this movement and demonstrate what democracy is about.”
Vivar also made similar remarks of support in Spanish for the Hispanic residents of the city in attendance. To conclude, she invited everyone to get out, become involved in the community and vote to make a difference. After Vivar, Jad Kaado, a lifelong resident of the Hub City who ran a campaign earlier this year in a race for a seat on the board of education spoke briefly in support of his friend’s candidacy.
“He is a New Brunswick hero, he is a champion of justice,” said Kaado. “I could say the moment that I met him, he really did positively change my life and I do believe that he is working every day to change New Brunswick in a positive and productive way.”
Kaado went on to announce that Kratovil’s campaign motto will be “Clean air, clean water and clean government” before bringing up the candidate himself for prepared remarks.
“New Brunswick is a great city with tremendous potential, but the people here deserve a full-time Mayor who will be 100% focused on cleaning up our streets, our drinking water, and our local government,” said Kratovil.
Kratovil proposed to create an effective & user-friendly public transportation system based on a plan he presented to the city earlier in the year. This plan would allow for connections between the people who aren't able to afford a car and potential job opportunities. However, Kratovil also vowed that it would help with his other declared goal – “make the air we breathe cleaner by eliminating pollution from our mass transit system.”
Kratovil criticized the New Brunswick Parking Authority which he believes to be the primary obstruction to an effective public transportation system in the city. Kratovil called for the immediate dissolution of the existing authority and instead proposed to form a transportation division charged with creating a more robust and comprehensive transportation system, one that will focus more on alternative means of transit such as pedestrian traffic, bicycle traffic and other forms of transport in demand by the public.
“Jersey City, the second most-populated city in the state, saved almost a million per year by getting rid of their Parking authority,” said Kratovil.
Kratovil’s well-publicized investigative reports into the New Brunswick Water Utility led to prompt action being taken by the government. Kratovil stated that if elected, he was making a promise to residents that if there would ever be a problem with the drinking water in the future during his term, “everyone will be informed immediately, no more cover-up.”
Kratovil further went on to describe a proposal to create an anti-corruption task force to investigate each municipal institution. As watchdog editor of New Brunswick Today, Kratovil regularly investigated and reported on allegations of corruption in city government.
The New Brunswick Housing and Redevelopment Authority is another entity that Kratovil vowed to drastically reimagine. He pointed out that the authority does not act in accordance with fulfilling its original mission. If elected to the office of the mayor, Kratovil indicated that he would separate the housing authority from the redevelopment authority in order to allow the NBHA to refocus on the mission of providing affordable housing for the residents of the city without mixing its business with the interests of developers.
Kratovil also indicated that if elected as mayor, he would “advocate and abide by a two-term limit for all officials at the municipal level." Kratovil said that he believes that many problems the city has had "would be solved by getting fresh faces and new blood in the system.”
Kratovil’s final point of his platform was a call to establish a system of civilian review of the New Brunswick Police Department, similar to the one currently in existence in New York City.
Residents and supporters gathered outside of City Hall appeared impressed with Kratovil’s announcement and platform.
Dan Coughlin, a 29-year-old resident of New Brunswick declared that he is under the impression that Kratovil is “the only one who has been doing things to change New Brunswick.” Coughlin went on to emphasize that the “democrat party machine doesn’t care and is not listening to the people, it’s important to have somebody who cares”
For Mandy Schmidt, 26, also a New Brunswick resident, the announcement was a turning point. “Charlie said he would be a full-time mayor,” said Schmidt. “He already gives New Brunswick his full time, he is always on the front line, trying to unite the community and make a difference.”
A resident of the city since 2004, Kratovil graduated from Rutgers University and has been giving back to the New Brunswick community for over a decade. He has worked as a community organizer with two respected non-profit organizations, The Citizens Campaign and Food & Water Watch. He also taught journalism students at Rutgers, volunteered as a staff member at nine different Model United Nations and Model Congress conferences, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rutgers Student & Alumni Federal Credit Union.
When contacted to comment on Kratovil’s candidacy, Mayor Cahill told Patch.com, "We welcome him to the campaign and look forward to a campaign that will be a discussion of ideas on how we can continue to improve the quality of life for New Brunswick residents."
The election will take place in November.
Editor’s Note: Charlie Kratovil is the primary Editor of the New Brunswick Today publication. However, in an effort to preserve editorial independence of the publication, this article and others concerning the mayoral race and Charlie Kratovil’s candidacy will be written and edited entirely by New Brunswick Today staff. This article was edited in its entirety, independently by Ilya Arbit. For any questions, comments or concerns, he can be reached at [email protected]icktoday.com