Independent candidate for Union Township Committee shares ambitions
By Elijah Tarik Powell | Published Nov. 6, 2016
Jason Krychiw, who is running as an Independent for a seat on the Union Township Committee, spoke of his journey in local politics to the Kean University’s chapter of the Green Party, known as the Young Greens.
Krychiw, 26, spoke at the Human Rights Institute on Wednesday Oct. 12 to about 15 Young Greens members. He said that he started his political journey when he was in the same position as the members of the Kean group: politically aware students with big ideas and the spirit to get involved.
“When I got in school and I had more free time is when I first started getting involved, and so I started on a volunteer basis,” said Krychiw. “I guess in trying to help and sort of seeing behind the curtain a little bit…and I didn’t like what I saw, and rather than wait for something to happen, I got involved.”
Krychiw is looking to change the system of government in Union, which is governed by a five-member executive committee. Union residents elect committee members, and then those members appoint one of their own as mayor.
“Union has a population of about about sixty thousand and we don’t have a direct election of mayor in town,” he said. “That’s something I’m looking to change, especially in a town the size of Union- we’re the second biggest town in the county… and for a town that size to not have a direct election of mayor is almost unheard of.”
Suzette Cavadas, a current Township Committee member whom Krychiw is running against, said that the committee-style system allows residents to choose a mayor every year, rather than once every several years like in neighboring towns and cities.
“…all residents get to judge the mayor every year, as our election cycle calls for at least one or two of the seats to be up every year,” she said via email when reached for comment after the meeting.
Jason said that this election should be more conventional. Being part of that committee would give him direct influence over whether or not that change could happen. For Krychiw, it means transparency between the local government and the people of Union.
Krychiw is the head administrator of an online Facebook Group called The Union Residents Forum, followed by about 8,000 people. People can post Union events and happenings, filling what Krychiw says is a communication void in Union.
Krychiw said the main idea behind the group is that the same communication that has brought beneficial interactions between local businesses and residents will also create a similar connection between residents and the local government.
“The first comment I see on there is ‘I wish I knew this happened,’ or ‘When did this go on?’” he said, referring to the questions about the system of government in Union. “Really, without that social media aspect there would be no communication between a lot of the people in town, the businesses, and the government bodies.”
Young Greens members chimed in to talk about issues in Union like snow removal and potholes that have yet to be filled, which Krychiw used as a segue to talk about his platform for infrastructure reform in Union.
Krychiw said he plans to have built-in emergency funds to hire more snow plowers in the event of severe snow storms. He also proposed his Act Plan, which would put Union’s local government activity more public.
“Our township has an interactive website (commended for its ease of use) which deals promptly with citizens concerns by department (example- having a pothole repaired by DPW), interactive Facebook and social media…” Cavadas said via email. “…all meetings are available quickly on our website, as well as replayed on local access cable stations, where they reach thousands of people.”
Krychiw earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Rutgers, and has served in Union on the Board of Health, the Recreational Advisory Committee, and the Mayor’s Alliance Against Drug Abuse for two years.
Young Greens member Evan Bombeke found Krychiw’s visit essential to what the group stands for.
“One of the main reasons we’ve gathered together as Kean Young Greens is to support, number one the third party, and second is the power of local legislators,” said Bombeke. “So I think the fact that Jason came by and talked to us was important because he’s one of the most critical politicians in regards to who can affect us [the residents].”
Union Township residents will elect their executive committee members on Nov. 8. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling stations can be found by using the State Department’s poll locator tool.