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NBDO will be screening for a New Brunswick City Council Candidate

NBDO will be screening for a New Brunswick City Council Candidate

The New Brunswick Democratic Organization will be screening for a New Brunswick City Council Candidate due to the anticipated vacancy to be created as a result of Councilman Kevin Egan’s election to the NJ General Assembly.  All interested persons are requested to submit a letter of interest/resume to the New Brunswick Democratic Organization to the attention of the Chair T.K. Shamy at on or before December 15, 2023.  Thereafter screenings of all interested persons will be conducted by the NBDO Screening Committee.

Mayor Cahill, New City Council Members Sworn in During Historic Day for New Brunswick

Mayor Cahill, New City Council Members Sworn in During Historic Day for New Brunswick

By TapInto New Brunswick

Mayor Jim Cahill recognized the members of the City Council, city department heads and many others he considers partners in shaping a city where housing is growing, infrastructure is ever-improving and public safety remains the priority.

But the biggest and most heartfelt thank-yous he extended during the inauguration ceremonies on Monday, Jan. 2 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center were reserved for his loved ones.

Cahill was surrounded by his family – his wife, Laura, children Rebecca and Casey, daughter-in-law Lindsay, son-in-law Mike and grandsons Colton and Harrison – as he was sworn in for his ninth term by retired Judge C. Judson Hamlin.

“Few, if any, could ever fully appreciate the sacrifices you make that allow me to give my absolute best effort to serve as mayor,” Cahill said to his family. “I simply could not, and would not, do this without you. I could not be more blessed and prouder of our family. Thank you and I love you.”

Cahill’s decades-long leadership of New Brunswick aside, Monday was a historic day for the city in many ways.

Two new City Council members, Petra Gaskins and Manuel Castaneda, were also sworn in as the City Council’s ranks grow from five to seven members. Gaskins is the first Black woman and Castaneda is the first Latino man to serve on the city’s governing board. They will formally take their place on the Council at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Kevin Egan and Rebecca Escobar, four-time running mates with Cahill, were also sworn in. Cahill said it was an “honor and a privilege” to serve with them and the other Council members: Glenn Fleming, John Anderson and Suzanne Sicora Ludwig.

During his State of the City address, Cahill highlighted the many improvements and enhancements across the city during his time as mayor, including a surge in housing for residents of all income levels – including those without any income at all.

There are 3,500 new housing units in the pipeline, including the 720-unit mixed-use redevelopment at the former Sears site on Route 1. There’s also the 300-unit Boraie Tower, the 660 units coming to 100 Jersey Ave. and up to 400 units planned for The Hub across from the train station – each with set-asides for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

In addition to those more high-profile projects, the city has launched an aggressive program to maintain and improve the existing housing and keep neighborhoods vibrant. In 2022, the city took identified 28 properties as vacant or abandoned. They were demolished, repaired or in the process of being rehabilitated.

Cahill on Monday also highlighted the strides made in keeping the city safer since he took office in 1991.

That year, the total number of crimes reported according to the State Police Uniform Crime Reports was 4,447. Following the 2020 census, even with a 33% increase in New Brunswick’s population, the number of crimes reported had dropped to 1,249 – a 73% reduction.

“We’ve also joined forces with several county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including Rutgers, using a task-force strategy to bring more crime-fighting resources into New Brunswick,” Cahill said. “It is because of these efforts, and so much more, that our Police and Fire Departments have earned reputations as being the finest and bravest under the command of Directors (Anthony) Caputo and (Robert) Rawls.”

Read the full article here.

New Brunswick Trailblazers Gaskins, Castaneda Eager to Join City Council

New Brunswick Trailblazers Gaskins, Castaneda Eager to Join City Council

By TapInto New Brunswick

You could have forgiven Petra Gaskins and Manuel Castaneda if they slept in the morning after they were elected as the newest members of the City Council last week.

After a night of celebrating, they were at the firehouse on Joyce Kilmer Avenue early Wednesday to show their support for a 10-year-old boy who was having his dream of being a firefighter for a day fulfilled by the New Brunswick Fire Department through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Gaskins and Castaneda had a happy, accomplished glow about them after blazing a historic trail Tuesday night.

Gaskins is the first Black woman to be elected to the City Council. At 29, she is also believed to be the youngest person.

And, Castaneda is the first Latino man to be elected to the City Council, and just the third Latino overall.

They are eager to bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the city’s governing body when they start their terms in January as the City Council expands from five to seven members.

“I wish I really had words to express how it feels,” Gaskins said. “What I do feel is an immense sense of responsibility of knowing that in the entire city to be the first and what it means to be the first, with so many Black women and young people, right, will look to me and see me and hopefully see my participation and know their voices are included. That is a humbling privilege and responsibility.”

Sure, you could say their elections were anti-climactic because they ran unopposed on a ticket with incumbent council members Rebecca Escobar and Kevin Egan, as well as Mayor Jim Cahill. Still, Gaskins, who will serve a four-year term, received 3,304 votes. Castaneda, who will initially serve a two-year term with four-year terms thereafter, received 3,401 votes.

Castaneda said he didn’t campaign as if he was running unopposed. He is half-kidding when he says that his wife of 13 years, Karla, and their two kids didn’t see much of him in the weeks leading up to the election.

He has forged deep connections in New Brunswick over the years, first serving as a case manager at Rutgers University-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and more recently as the Director of Community Health at New Brunswick Tomorrow.

The man who helped launch a number of successful community-based health initiatives, such as the “Live Well Vivir Bien” campaign and the New Brunswick Healthy Housing Collaborative, said he will bring that sort of community-focused service to his work on the council.

“I think the work that I do on a grassroots level has spoken volumes here,” Castaneda said Tuesday night. “What I want to do is to continue to be that bridge between our population, and not just one population, but all of them – recognizing also the importance of making sure that our most marginalized also have a voice. So, that’s one of the reasons I was out there kissing babies and at ribbon cuttings because it’s not a matter of whether you have anything to win or lose. It’s about I want to be representative of everybody.”

Originally from Hawaii, Gaskins came to New Jersey to attend Rider University and ended up settling in New Brunswick a few years ago. She serves as Chief of Staff for State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-16th Dist.), focusing on engaging with the community and ensuring proposed legislation is relevant and impactful to all constituents. Before joining the senator’s office, Gaskins served as Outreach Director to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.), as part of various roles over a six-year period.

“When it comes to the actual work, it’s important to remember that I work in the State Senate and I work primarily with the state budget,” Gaskins said. “So, I’m well-versed with how the state interacts with the county and municipalities.”

To that end, she said she could use her seat on the council to spread information about programs that would help city residents. For instance, she wonders how many of them have taken advantage of the Anchor Property Tax Benefit Program, which provides relief to residents who owned or rented their principal residence on Oct. 1, 2019, and met certain income limits. (The filing deadline is Dec. 30).

Gaskins also knows just her presence at the table in Council Chambers will make a huge impact on the city.

“When we talk about perspective, it’s not just a word. It’s the truth,” she said. “This is how young people in their 20s, young people in their 30s feel. I think a lot of those folks are more comfortable coming to me. That’s what I saw on the campaign trail.”

Read the full article here.

A Clean Sweep for the Cahill Team in New Brunswick

A Clean Sweep for the Cahill Team in New Brunswick

By TapInto New Brunswick

Within minutes of the polls closing at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, there were broad smiles among the city’s Democratic organization.

Mayor Jim Cahill was easily re-elected to his ninth term, winning another four-year term. The mayor, who has served since 1991, faced a challenge from Republican candidate Maria C. Powell and Independent Charles “Charlie” Kratovil.

Cahill ended up with 63.82% of the votes, good for 2,595 votes.

Cahill in recent weeks has hit the campaign trail, touting the city’s development boom that includes the ongoing construction of the $731 million Health and Technology Hub and the $775 million Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center – and the jobs that will be generated from these projects.

The city’s taxes have remained flat or have taken a small decrease in the past few years, even as New Brunswick emerges from the economic impact wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you can create housing for people, jobs for people, social services for people and help people to have a better quality of life, it results in results like today,” Cahill told TAPinto New Brunswick.

Two incumbents, Rebecca Escobar and Kevin Egan, ran unopposed for re-election for four-year seats to the City Council. 

Two newcomers, Petra Gaskins and Manuel Castaneda, also ran unopposed for seats on the City Council as it expands from five seats to seven. Gaskins earned a four-year term; Castaneda will take a seat with an initial two-year term, with four-year terms thereafter.

Cahill’s eighth term provided a new challenge, but he provided a steady hand as the city grappled with the lingering effects wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. As he made sure the city’s public services continued, that there was rental assistance available for tenants and landlords, and that vaccination clinics were set up throughout the city, he said he was in part inspired to run for Term No. 9.

When asked what he’s looking forward to the most of the next four years, he said, “Continuing to work with an outstanding team to serve the public. That’s really what it does. When I’m in the office tomorrow, there will be someone who calls and needs something, and I look forward to that call.”

Kratovil, who focused much of his campaign on crime prevention and the need for more affordable housing, received 26.32% of the votes, or 1,070 votes, according to unofficial results posted by the Middlesex County Clerk Nancy J. Pinkin’s Office.

Read the full article here.