NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – As the 2018 midterm elections took place across the country on Tuesday, November 6th, New Brunswick residents came out to the polls and among other choices made on the ballot, voted to keep incumbent mayor James Cahill in his position for an eighth consecutive term over independent, first time mayoral candidate Charlie Kratovil.
With the final ballots tabulated, Cahill won with 5,898 votes compared to Kratovil’s 1,801 votes. Cahill’s running mates Kevin Egan and Rebecca Escobar were also re-elected to their respective positions with both expected to serve a third term in the city council. Mayor Cahill could not be reached for an official comment on his victory.
Cahill has been in office since 1991, and in a comment to MyCentralJersey.com, he said he credited his win to the people's recognition of all the positive progress made in the city and voters' hopes of building a better future.
Kratovil, who announced his candidacy in June, explained that he could not have gotten this far without his family and the support from the community that he received. He noted that one of the biggest accomplishments of his campaign was that the people of New Brunswick now had more awareness of the challenges that the city faces and especially the ones that Kratovil was set on tackling as mayor if he was elected. And while he didn’t win, he said that he intends to keep the movement that he created alive and is looking to retain that momentum well into the future.
“We had a number of very successful events where we shined a light on important issues,” said Kratovil. “Like the low wages being paid to many workers, and the wasteful spending, and the outrageous debt of the parking authority.”
During Election Day, on the Rutgers campus, students entered into the easily accessible polling locations where New Brunswick residents and students could serve their civic duty.
Lincoln Elementary School on Bartlett Street was used as a polling location that was next to the College Avenue campus. As Rutgers students Marielle Abel and Makenna Babeu walked out of the polling location after casting their ballot, they expressed to New Brunswick Today why it was important to vote in the midterm elections.
“I think that we need different, more diverse opinions in government,” said Abel. “I think it’s dominated too much by one party and by one set of ideas. In order to become a more united country, we need to have representations of all issues and ideas.”
Babeu said the midterm elections are an opportunity for the people to vote for younger and more diverse candidates with new ideas that currently represent the current demands of the people. Kratovil has courted Rutgers students in the hopes of riding their wave to victory through a larger turnout – led, in part, by those very students – whose voices in the city community are often overlooked by longtime residents and government officials due to the transient nature of a large number of Rutgers attendees. Nonetheless, Kratovil's message has resonated with some, especially those students who felt neglected, particularly by individuals in positions of leadership within the New Brunswick community.
“Choosing to challenge a machine that has been in power for 27 years – I think – is amazing,” said Shvethaa Jayakumar, a Rutgers student and an avid Kratovil supporter. “I think you know [that] even if he doesn’t win, that’s fine – he’s made a name for himself and that’s what matters.”
Active Rutgers student Hillary Lemus distributed out “I Voted” stickers in front of the College Avenue gym. Lemus said the midterm elections were an opportunity for people to be heard.
“A lot of people who think they don’t have a voice definitely will,” said Lemus. “If they don’t go vote now, then they don’t necessarily have a reason to complain later.”
As Election Day drew to a close, Kratovil along with his family, campaign staff, fellow activists as well as supportive community members all gathered at the Alfa Art Gallery when the polls closed to view the results and to see if Kratovil was victorious in the race for mayor. The crowd of supporters inside the gallery was mixed with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Nancy Love, an early Kratovil supporter and New Brunswick resident, said that Kratovil was good at bringing people together to become more active in their communities.
“I think it’s important to vote in every single election, local, state, or national,” said Love. “Even local politics is really important and most people aren’t aware of that.”
Democratic candidate Javahn Walker for the New Jersey 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House expressed his support for Kratovil in an interview with New Brunswick Today.
“I knew that Charlie was a person for the city and the people,” said Walker. “He wants to better New Brunswick.”
Kratovil, in turn, expressed pride that the voter turnout increased this year, particularly when compared to past elections. One of his goals was to get more people to be active in their local communities and he believes he’s succeeded on that front.
“I think the people of New Brunswick need to speak up and continue to come out for midterm elections,” said Walker. “Go to housing authority meetings, go to city council, learn what their city is doing – that the city doesn’t like to keep transparent to the people.”
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 were 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].