NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Jad Kaado, who has worked as a writer, artist and Rutgers professor, has announced his petition to appear on the ballot for the Board of Education election in May has been accepted.
He is running on the “Students First” ticket with Linda “Lindy” Stork and Reginald “Reggie” Parker. In all, there are seven names on the ballot, including incumbents Dale Caldwell, Emra Seawood and Patricia Varela. Maria Concepcion Powell is the lone Republican on the ballot.
Kaado’s addition to the ballot comes after his 11-signature petition was initially rejected and he sought legal representation to take up the matter with Secretary of State Tahesha Way and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
He said he was surprised and happy to receive the news he would be on the ballot.
“I did appreciate them reaching out about it,” Kaado said. “I do appreciate them looking into it, and we take our petition seriously. So, that's very commendable of them. And, it's good to have respectful discourse like that, too. So yeah I just certainly was surprised to see they went through with it and this gentleman was kind enough to reach out to me. And now we're now here, kind of, you know, figuring out this kind of virtual campaign.”
Kaado submitted his petition to board Administrator and Secretary Richard Jannarone on March 23 – after the March 2 deadline and after Jerry Mercado withdrew from the “Student’s First” ticket.
Renee Steinhagen, director of New Jersey Appleseed, a nonprofit public interest law center that works pro bono on social justice causes, wrote a letter to Way and Grewal on Kaado’s behalf seeking clarification to the filing deadline after Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 116 moved the April 21 election and 15 or so other elections across the state to May 12. Also, the school board and special elections will be conducted exclusively by mail as Murphy moved to promote social distancing measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Steinhagen argued that Kaado’s petition should have been accepted because it was filed 50 days or more before the new election date.
Kaado is a lifelong New Brunswick resident who earned a degree at Rutgers before earning a master’s degree in archeology from the University of Toronto. He has worked at archeological sites in Jordan, Syria and Turkey. He has also been a writer, a journalist and taught at Rutgers.
Caldwell, the board’s vice president, Seawood and Varela are running under the banner “New Beginnings For New Brunswick Schools.” They have released an election statement on their website.