The city’s official newspaper, the Home News Tribune, featured the news that Charlie has been approved for the November ballot on page 2 of their June 22 edition.
Here’s what they had to say:
Charlie Kratovil has been informed by the Middlesex County Clerk’s Office Division of Elections that his candidacy for Mayor of New Brunswick was approved and his name will appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, ballot. Kratovil announced his candidacy at a kickoff event on June 6.
Pauline Rappilly Ferniot and Ilya Arbit have both worked for Charlie at the bilingual community newspaper New Brunswick Today, but their latest assignment had them covering his campaign to lead the city government.
Here’s some of what these talented reporters had to say in the most comprehensive article yet about our historic campaign:
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 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.
In 2011, then-Governor Chris Christie signed into law NJSA 52:14-7 (also known as the “NJ First Act”), which requires most state officers and employees to have their principal residence in New Jersey, yet Christie subsequently appointed several members to the Rutgers Board of Governors who did not live in New Jersey and had no intention of moving here.
A lawsuit filed by a Rutgers alum seeks to correct this double-standard and asks the Superior Court of New Jersey to remove five out-of-state members from the Rutgers Board. Yesterday, New Brunswick Today Editor Charlie Kratovil filed a civil action in lieu of prerogative writ with the Mercer County Superior Court (docket #MER-L-1254-18) seeking the removal of the five members illegally serving on the powerful Rutgers Board of Governors. Kratovil graduated from Rutgers in 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies.
“Chris Christie signed this bad law to punish rank-and-file public workers, but in typical Christie fashion, he felt his own political appointees were above the law and could just ignore it,” said Kratovil, who declared his candidacy for Mayor of New Brunswick last week.
“If municipal public officials such as our teachers and firefighters must abide by this law, then certainly the appointees who run our state university should have to follow it as well,” said Kratovil. “Members of the Rutgers Board of Governors should be required to live in New Jersey so that they can experience first-hand the consequences of their actions.”
The 18-member board can hire and fire the university’s President, who is considered an ex-oficio board member, and they oversee a $4.4 billion annual budget and what has grown into a massive campus based in New Brunswick.
Under the NJ First Act, each out-of-state board member had one year from the date that they took office to re-locate to New Jersey before they became eligible for removal. A judgment of ouster is sought against all five in the civil action filed yesterday by Kratovil.
Stewart is the only one of the five out-of-state Board of Governors members who was appointed by the university’s Board of Trustees and not ex-Governor Christie.
During their meeting today, it was announced that one of the five, Christie appointee Joseph M. Rigby, was resigning from the board at the end of June. Asked after the meeting why he was quitting, he declined to comment.
Reporter Matt Freidman included the kickoff of our campaign in his popular “POLITICO Playbook” newsletter.
Here’s what the veteran political reporter had to say about our campaign to change “machine-complacent New Brunswick” for the better:
New Brunswick Today publisher Charles Kratovil, who proudly takes up the gadfly role in machine-complacent New Brunswick, will challenge Mayor James Cahill as an independent. He announced his campaign yesterday. “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,” Kratovil said in a statement.
On June 6, 2018, Charlie kicked off this historic campaign with a little help from his friends outside of New Brunswick City Hall:
Full text of the speech:
Thank you, New Brunswick. My name is Charlie and I want to be your next Mayor. I’m running because you deserve a full-time Mayor who will focus 100% on cleaning up this city.
Now, I want to tell you how I’m going to do that, but before I get started, I need to thank some very important people. So, first of all, thanks to all our speakers–my good friends Jad, Teresa, and Khahlidra–who you just heard from. I literally would not be a candidate for this office if it was not for my family’s help. They were out there gathering the signatures that I needed to get my name on the ballot, so I want to thank my mother and father, my sisters who could not join us today, and I’ve just been tremendously blessed to have a great family supporting me for every day of my 32 years on this Earth. My parents raised me right, along with my sisters, and they’ve all helped to inspire me, educate me, and make me strive to be the best person I can be.
I also must thank some of the people who took a chance on me and didn’t have to. Harry Pozycki and Jim Walsh are two great men who taught me how to be a community organizer, how to empower others, and most important, how to be constructive and how to be effective. So I’m tremendously thankful to both of them, and of course to my journalism mentor Joe Malinconico for showing me how to cover hard news in a big city and do it the right way, putting the people first.
So for the past fourteen years that I’ve lived in this great city, I wouldn’t have been able to survive without great friends, some of those people like Sean Monahan and Amy Braunstein, and everybody else who let me crash at their place when I was struggling to make a living, struggling to survive here. And it’s not easy to make it here, but thanks to great people like those, I’ve not only survived, but I’ve grown and become a better person and better citizen, and I want to thank them for that opportunity.
And finally, I want to thank all of you, not just those who signed my petitions or those who are sure that you’re going to vote for me in November, but literally every single person who is hearing this today or watching this out there. You know, there’s still signs out at some of the city limits here that say, “New Brunswick: Where The People Make the Difference,” and I gotta say that that really hits the nail on the head. New Brunswick has a lot going for it, but so do a lot of other places. Yeah, we’ve got a rich history, we’ve got some big businesses, a wonderful state university, and much more. But the reason I’m still here isn’t those things, it’s you.
The people of New Brunswick are truly what makes this a great community to live in, to work in, to study in, to visit, to start a newspaper–it’s a very exciting place to do that–and hopefully to run for elected office in. And I look forward to meeting as many residents as possible over the next five months, and I hope that we can build a strong connection based on honest debate and discussion, a connection that will last well beyond November 6th, and one that will endure even if we don’t agree about an issue or an election. So, thank you New Brunswick for always keeping things exciting, for giving me a reason to put roots down here and to call this place my home, and giving me a passion for fighting for justice for everyone who needs support from someone else.
So, let’s get down to it. What am I going to do if you elect me to be your next Mayor?
Well, I’m going to focus on several key areas, and I can see them on that sign right there: “Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Government.” We also need clean streets and finally, a real commitment to the people who need our support the most. That includes our working families, our renters, our immigrant population, and our homeless brothers and sisters. There’s so much more we can do, and I’m going to fight for the people who need that support the most. There’s been far too long that we haven’t had real solutions to these problems and I know that we can do better and I will work full-time to make it better.
Now, we need to move our city forward and one way that we can do that is by creating a free, robust, user-friendly public transportation system. My plans, which have already been presented to Rutgers University and the New Brunswick Traffic Commission right upstairs will make it easier for those of us without cars to connect to employment opportunities, educational opportunities, shopping destinations including places to buy healthy food that we need to feed our families, and also our hospitals and medical facilities, getting people to doctor’s appointments. These are all important transportation needs.
My plans have been well received by those entities, but we must continue to push for their implementation regardless of the outcome of this election. We must insist on zero-emissions electric buses for that system, we must insist that every bus be accessible to our disabled brothers and sisters, and we must insist that there be a common sense, centralized method for getting the information about this system out there, one that’s simple, bilingual, and uses GPS technology to tell you when the next bus is coming.
Now, this is just one way that we can helping ease the traffic and parking problems here, make it easier for people who can’t afford a car to survive in this city, and most importantly, make the air we breathe cleaner by eliminating pollution from our mass transit system.
But that’s just one way. Before we get to the next point, I need to discuss kind of like the elephant in the room, the elephant in the city… it’s the New Brunswick Parking Authority. We need to put an end to the New Brunswick Parking Authority. It’s why we don’t already have a good public transportation system here in New Brunswick. You guys know the expression: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, in New Brunswick, all we have is a parking authority, so every transportation problem, it looks like the solution is to build another parking deck and borrow millions of dollars to do it.
Now, earlier today, I visited the Finance Director and he gave me a document here that shows the total debt of the New Brunswick Parking Authority: $396 million dollars–and a half-million dollars. So, just to put that in perspective the Parking Authority is paying $12 million just towards interest. Think about what could be done with $12 million. Think about what could be done to our downtown if we didn’t have so many parking decks, if we had a different agenda, one that focused more on pedestrians, bicycles, taxis, and other forms of transit that would help people get from point A to point B in a healthier way without having to have everyone own their own car and find a place to keep it 24×7.
Now, you might say thank God that the Parking Authority is an autonomous agency and that the City government is not on the hook for that insane debt. But, unfortunately, ever since the Mayor’s first term back in the 90’s, the city government has guaranteed every single dollar of the Parking Authority’s debt. That means that if, heaven forbid, we shift to a less car-centric society and the demand for parking in these enormous monstrosities goes down, the city’s taxpayers will be the ones that have to face the day of reckoning, likely long after the responsible parties have left office.
Now, if elected, I promise to support the immediate dissolution of the New Brunswick Parking Authority. We wouldn’t be the first city to do it. We would be following in the footsteps of Jersey City, the second most-populated city in the state, which saved almost a million dollars per year by getting rid of their Parking Authority, and other communities like Bloomfield and Montclair, that saw the light, that want to move their cities forward in a direction that’s more comprehensive, not just parking, but more than that.
So, I promise to create a Transportation Department, with a director that will report directly to me and whose mission will be to develop comprehensive solutions to the parking and transportation problems that are inflicting harm on the residents and businesses here. They are only seeing the costs go up and that is not a solution. I talk to many business owners and many residents who say that the cost of parking fines and the sheer cost of just paying for parking is forcing them out of New Brunswick.
There are a lot of people that would want to come to New Brunswick, but they are turned off by our extremely high cost of parking. We can do better. We need a new strategy, a new way to go about it and I’m ready to bring that vision. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and I’ve researched what other cities are doing and I can tell you first-hand that we are long overdue for a change in how our authorities work, not only the Parking Authority but also the New Brunswick Housing Authority. Some of you may be familiar with some of the scandals that we’ve uncovered at New Brunswick Today at that authority.
We can’t have the same people doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. A very smart man said that’s the definition of insanity. We need a change, we need to shake things up and I’m the person to do it. So, I hope that you will support me.
I want to tell you about a couple other things that I will promise you. So, first of all, I promise that if there’s ever a problem with the drinking water, everyone will be informed immediately. No more cover-ups, no more criminal schemes. We’ve got to put the people first and be transparent about our problems. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem, and that wasn’t going on until it was exposed and that was unacceptable.
I also promise to create an anti-corruption task force that’s going to clean up our government, investigate allegations of misconduct in the entire city: all departments here, both the authorities, and anything else that comes to our attention. We’re going to install GPS tracking devices in all of the city-owned vehicles to prevent misuse and abuse of that privilege.
We’re going to separate the Housing Authority from the Redevelopment Authority. It’s never made sense for those two things to be together and we need the Housing Authority to stay true to its mission of supporting affordable housing and not getting in bed with the developers.
I will also advocate for and abide by a two-term limit for all officials at the municipal level. So many of the problems we’ve had could be solved by getting fresh faces and new blood in the system, and I will practice what I preach. I will not serve more than two terms.
I will also support civilian review of the New Brunswick Police Department. I know first hand that you cannot trust an investigation when the person investigating has a conflict, when the person investigating is investigating their co-workers or their friends. We need civilians to be investigating allegations of police misconduct like they have in the country’s largest city, in New York City. There’s a civilian review board there where people are paid to do those investigations, and they do an honorable job. We need that here in New Brunswick and we need it now, we need it yesterday.
I also promise to reject any application for a long-term tax exemption that does not provide funding to our school system. Just this past month alone, the City Council approved one deal that is costing the school system $39 million over the next 30 years. That is horrible. Our schools are an investment in the future. The children of today are going to be the ones who look after this place after we’re long gone, and if they can’t get a good education because we wanted to give a developer a gift to entice them to build a building, well then we’re not thinking about the future. We’re thinking about the present. And we need to think about the future and the children of today and make sure that our schools are funded and that developers pay their fair share. The people of New Brunswick end up picking up the slack when the City Council approves deals like this. I promise I will veto any deal that does not have funding for the schools.
And the last thing that I promise is perhaps the most important. I promise all of you here today and anyone watching at home that I will serve full-time as Mayor. With no side jobs, no conflicts of interest, I will be 100% dedicated to this city and the people of this city. You can count on it.
Thank you for your support. Please tell your friends. The name of the game is register to vote. We need to get people registered. Have a great day everyone.
Thanks to Patch.com’s Carly Baldwin for covering our campaign announcement. Here’s some of what she had to say in her first article about this historic campaign:
Charlie Kratovil, a reporter who is extremely critical of the current New Brunswick administration, announced he is running for mayor.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — A reporter who is extremely critical of the city of New Brunswick and its administration announced Wednesday he is running to be New Brunswick’s next mayor.
Yesterday, Charlie Kratovil submitted over 125 signatures from New Brunswick residents who support his candidacy, which is enough to get his name on the November 6 general election ballot. He will be challenging Mayor James Cahill, who has been the city’s mayor for the past seven terms.
“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.
Cahill has been in office since 1991 when he took over the mayor position from his cousin, John Lynch, Jr.
WHO: Charlie Kratovil (and his supporters) WHAT: Campaign Kickoff Event WHEN: Today, June 6 @ 4:15PM WHERE: Steps of City Hall, 78 Bayard Street, New Brunswick
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–The founder and editor of the city’s bilingual community newspaper will be announcing his candidacy for Mayor in an event on the steps of City Hall later today.
Yesterday, Charlie Kratovil submitted over 125 signatures from New Brunswick residents who support his candidacy, more than enough to get his name on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. Charlie’s name will appear as an independent candidate above the slogan “Clean Up Brunswick,” and he will make clean streets, clean water, and clean government his top priorities.
Charlie’s candidacy marks the first electoral challenge to seven-term incumbent Mayor James Cahill since 2010, and Charlie is also the first independent candidate to challenge him since 2006. In addition to being the Mayor, Cahill runs a private law firm on the side, and has been in office since 1991 when he took over the Mayor position from his cousin, John Lynch, Jr.
“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.
The campaign will continue to build upon Charlie’s years of volunteering, community organizing, and journalism with a grassroots effort to strengthen the movement for change that has been building here.
A resident of the city since 2004, Charlie graduated from Rutgers University 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.
Since starting the New Brunswick Today newspaper in 2011, Charlie’s work has received high honors from multiple organizations, including:
The NJ Society of Professional Journalists’ Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism (for his coverage of the Cahill administration’s water quality cover-up scandal)
The NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion for Justice (for his volunteer efforts to serve New Brunswick)
NOTE: Today’s event will be followed by a City Council meeting on the second floor of City Hall at 5:30pm, where Charlie will speak out against the city’s proposed privatization of 911 dispatch services, which will lead to a dozen New Brunswick police dispatchers being laid off. Charlie will also be questioning Cahill administration officials about the Mayor’s annual $6,000 “automobile mileage stipend.”