Past donations to Republicans, Mukherji endorsement, raise questions about Sudhan Thomas’ rhetoric

Jersey City Board of Education candidate Sudhan Thomas has made allegations of “Republican alter egos” burying facilities plans and claimed some of his opponents seek to “charterize” Jersey City Public Schools, but his prior donations and endorsements raise questions of hypocrisy.

Asm. Raj Mukherji (D-33) and Sudhan Thomas

Asm. Raj Mukherji (D-33) and Sudhan Thomas

“We are honored to receive the endorsement of Assemblyman Mukherji, who has been a champion for urban schools in the State Legislature as a member of the Budget Committee,” said Sudhan Thomas in an August 15, 2016 press release.

While candidates for political office are known to tout endorsements during an election season, accepting the endorsement of Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), and labeling him “a champion of urban schools,” might seem odd for Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOE) candidate Sudhan Thomas given that he’s been quite vocal against those he claims seek to “charterize” Jersey City Public Schools.

Specifically, as chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA), Mukherji voted to approve the sale of land to BeLoved Community Charter School for $1 for the construction of a middle school for grades 6-8. At the time, Mukherji said “we’re making, given all the circumstances, the most productive feasible use of the property at this time.”

A spokesperson for Thomas did not respond with comment to an email asking whether Mukherji’s vote on the JCHA was an to attempt to further “charterize” the Jersey City school district.

When asked about the vote, and whether it constitutes “charterizing” the district, Mukherji said “I can’t speak for Mr. Thomas, but from my standpoint, my steadfast support for public school funding, public educators, for school construction funding in lower-income urban areas and overcoming the gap in outcomes between urban schools and their wealthier suburban counterparts doesn’t mean that every other school opportunity for urban kids with limited options shouldn’t be available.”

Asked about Thomas’ use of the term “charterize” in his campaign rhetoric, Mukherji said “I’m not familiar with every specific stance that he holds, I suspect he’s speaking to some of the positions with the JCEA [Jersey City Education Association].”

Of note, Thomas is running on the JCEA’s Education Matters slate.

Also of note, Mukherji participated in “Charter School Principal for a Day” at The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS) and praised the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa) for its commitment to underprivileged children in a press release from the New Jersey Charter School Association.

As well, in addition to a press release claiming some of his opponents are aiming to “defund, privatize, charterize, voucherize and cannibalize the school system,” Thomas has also alleged that “Republican alter egos in Jersey City” quietly buried a $2 billion long range facilities plan which he seeks to “evangelize” if elected to the JCBOE.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Thomas himself donated $3,500 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) from 2002-2003.

Thomas’ spokesperson did not provide comment indicating who exactly were the “Republican alter egos” that buried the plan, and if they were ever endorsed by Mayor Steven Fulop – who he is currently endorsed by.

In addition, no comment was provided as to why he donated to the NRCC, or what Republican policies he supported at the time.

Of note, Thomas’ running mate, Angel Valentin, sat on the board the majority of the time Thomas claims “Republican alter egos” buried the facilities plan he plans to “evangelize.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect that the JCEA’s 2015 Education Matters candidate John Reichart is not a Republican. The misinformation was based off of Reichart apparently being misquoted in a Hudson Reporter article stating “as a matter of fact, I’m a registered Republican.”

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