NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – On Tuesday, November 6th, the power to determine the future will go to the people of the nation as ballots are cast in the much-anticipated midterm elections all across the country.
Here in New Brunswick, mayoral candidate Charlie Kratovil is attempting a historic upset in a short, dedicated campaign – making his case and appealing to the public about a need for change in city government.
City residents on Tuesday will make the choice on whether to have Kratovil's challenger in the election – incumbent mayor James Cahill – continue to serve for another 8th term or whether they will choose put their faith in new leadership for the city of New Brunswick.
Announcing his campaign in June and in the months since – Kratovil has attracted supporters from all walks of life and all across the city as he hoped to prove to residents that he is a viable leader and formidable candidate for the office of the mayor. From live broadcasting on social media to making phone calls and going door to door as well as increased public interaction have all been effective methods according to Kratovil, ones that he believes have helped spread the message of change that his campaign has aimed to deliver.
“I feel that we are very close to making history,’ Kratovil said. “We’ve already put together a movement that is very strong. We’ve already given my opponent the toughest race he’s had since he got in. And I think we have a chance to win”
Kratovil described working tirelessly to get himself to the position he is in today. He’s attended important events in the community with large numbers of residents in attendance. When Rutgers classes resumed for the semester, he made appearances on campus to make sure the students knew that he was running for mayor and to personally appeal to them with his message of change. All of these efforts, Kratovil hopes, will be enough to increase his name recognition and dedication to the New Brunswick community and its residents.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of clubs at Rutgers,” Kratovil said. “I’ve spoken at a lot of apartment complexes and apartment buildings where we would pass out flyers and say come this night to the lobby or to the community room and we’ll have an event.”
A spokesperson for Mayor James Cahill referred questions to Cahill's campaign manager who has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Kratovil credits his past experiences in gaining the skills to be a serious opponent to the incumbent mayor. In 2012, he briefly put his name on the city council ballot, but shortly thereafter dropped out to focus on the issue of the lack of school board elections for the city. Subsequently, Kratovil and his peers fought for and succeeded in getting those elections implemented.
Since then Kratovil explains that he has learned a lot from his experience in journalism, political activism as well as active involvement in local affairs. He’s put himself in positions to learn about the issues of the people of New Brunswick – whether they’re the immigrant community, the student body or its longtime residents.
Kratovil has, likewise, garnered a reputation over the years for his intrepid investigative journalistic work through the New Brunswick Today publication, He concedes that he needs to adopt a more cooperative attitude moving forward, as his previous interactions with government officials, elected or appointed, have been rather heated and at times combative due to what Kratovil sees as his passion for the issues at hand.
“I do need to be more careful with my words,” said Kratovil. “If I do win, I will need to work with the city council, the board of education, the county government, and all these folks, and of course the people. I try to demonstrate that I can find common ground and can work together with people.”
In the final week before the election. Kratovil hopes that everyone who is able to vote will not only exercise their civic duty by voting but also help him spread his message and engage others to participate in democracy.
“Your vote is your voice,” said Kratovil. “If you have it, use it. If you don’t, do what you can to reach others who do [have it].”
If elected, Kratovil immediately aims to find common ground with the city council in order to make some key institutional changes to New Brunswick.
One of his long-stated and immediate goals, should he become mayor, is to abolish the New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBHA) because of their large debt and years of inefficiency.
“We have some of the most expensive parking in New Jersey and we still have a parking problem,” said Kratovil. “We have all these parking decks but they are not paid for. The money was borrowed for them. We need to move to a new model that’s going to be more comprehensive and find other ways for people to get around that don’t involve everyone having their own car and needing a place to park it 24/7.”
The redevelopments that led to the demolition of the Ferren Mall parking deck, have left behind a large empty lot between the train station and Robert Wood Johnson hospital. Kratovil said he hopes to bring an arts and entertainment venue to the location that would bring back the local music scene to New Brunswick that once thrived in the city.
“At that location, it would be beneficial to the city to develop a place where bands and other performers can perform and bring a big crowd to our city,” said Kratovil. “It’ll benefit the surrounding businesses. It’ll be in a location where people come from all over the Northeast corridor but also walk from Rutgers campus.”
As for his active involvement in the New Brunswick Today publication as its chief editor, Kratovil says that he will keep his campaign promise to be a full-time mayor and devote all of his time to his official duties. Kratovil clarified that if elected to office, there is currently a plan in place for succession with a goal of selecting a new individual to serve as chief editor for the publication as well as creating certain operational adjustments with the hope of bringing New Brunswick Today to a new era. Furthermore, Kratovil explained that in the event of a loss, he will remain chief editor but continue the work that began with his campaign as well as implement some of the pre-planned changes in the post-election transition.
The polls will be open starting at 6:00 a.m. and will remain open until 8:00 p.m on Tuesday, November 6th.
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 written by Christopher Bohorquez & edited in its entirety, independently by Ilya Arbit. For any questions, comments or concerns, the editor of this story can be reached at [email protected].