As he faces his first independent challenger in a dozen years, seven-term incumbent Mayor James Cahill is confronted with an apparent factual inconsistency that appears to paint a rosy picture on a bad situation.
Cahill says after he increased the size of the New Brunswick Police Department, the city experienced an unprecedented drop in crime. By contrast, New Jersey State Police records show that there were four times as many homicides in 2017 as there were the year before.
There were more moderate increases in other offenses but most chilling fact gleaned from those statistics is that almost 90 percent of crimes reported to city police went unsolved by the department, according to the State Police Uniform Crime Report.
Overall, there were 1,644 index offenses reported to police in 2016 and a five percent increase, bringing the number of crimes to 1,701 last year, but only 178 of those incidents were cleared by an arrest, or a fraction over ten percent.
The remaining 90 percent of reported crimes were not solved, according to the document, which is based on monthly reports required to be submitted by local authorities to the State Police.
Without solving crimes, police are allowing criminals to repeatedly engage in mayhem. Last year along, there were four murders, 22 reported rapes and at least 25 shootings.
Only about one-third of the rapes and assaults with firearms were solved, and the mayor’s office had no explanation.
Cahill is being challenged by Charlie Kratovil, the crusading journalist who established the city’s bilingual community newspaper,New Brunswick Today, and submitted petitions to put his name on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot as an independent candidate under the slogan “Clean Up Brunswick.”
Kratovil announced his candidacy for mayor on the steps of City Hall, declaring that he will make clean streets, clean water, and clean government his top priorities.
Since starting the newspaper in 2011, Kratovil has been recognized by the NJ Society of Professional Journalists for his coverage of the Cahill administration’s water quality cover-up scandal and his volunteer efforts to serve New Brunswick earned a NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion for Justice.
A resident of the city since 2004, Kratovil has been a thorn to the New Brunswick administration since he graduated from Rutgers University.
He has worked as a community organizer with The Citizens Campaign and Food & Water Watch, two widely respected non-profit organizations that sometimes called out Cahill and other local politicians, but as a journalist, he has routinely uncovered a host of misdeeds that have embarrassed and angered the city’s leadership.
Most recently, a Cahill-appointee on the housing authority raised a fist at Kratovil, who was filming the episode, landing the official in court on assault charges.
Cahill runs a private law firm in addition to being the city’s 62nd mayor, a post he has occupied since 1991 when he took over from his cousin, John Lynch, Jr., also a former New Jersey Senate President who was sentenced December 19, 2006, to three years in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion.
“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.
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