Tag Archive: Upendra Chivukula

Gita Bajaj

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I was very saddened today to learn of the death of Gita Bajaj, who was the press liaison for Assemblyman John McKeon and former Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula.

Gita always wore a smile and worked with me to provide stories for Blue Jersey readers. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm are how I remember her. She will be missed.

QoTD – BPU Edition

“Governor Christie did one thing right.”

         – Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair

on Christie’s recent appointment of Upendra Chivukula as a commissioner on the Board of Public Utilities – at a dinner tonight in honor of Chivukula’s new post and of his accomplishments in the state legislature.

Blue Jersey wishes the new Commissioner the best of luck in his new position.

Photo: Chivukula accepting a New Jersey state flag that was flown over the State House in his honor earlier today

NJ Senate Today

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just commenced confirmation interviews for Jamie Fox as Transportation Commissioner, Richard Mroz as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities, and Upendra Chivukula as a member of the BPU. (You can listen here.) Both Fox and Chivukula are Democrats, a surprising step for Governor Christie. Fox has worked in the past for leading Democrats (he coined the powerful phrase “I am a gay American” for the resigning Gov. McGreevey), but has also served as a former Transportation Commissioner and Deputy Director at the NY/NJ Port Authority. Rumor has it that Christie, whose transportation fund is calamitously broke, may surrender his “no new taxes” policy and with help from Fox promote a gas tax increase. It is hard to remember when Christie nominations were scheduled so quickly before the Judiciary Committee. These appointments should sail through the vetting process today, and may even be presented this afternoon at a full Senate session.

At 2:00 pm there is a Senate voting session which includes a bill to reform the NY/NJ Port Authority, sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. This bill will have teeth as an identical bill has already passed the NY legislature. The PA – a bi-state agency – will be required to follow these regulations which call for increased transparency and accountability. The Assembly should act promptly to hold a committee hearing and schedule a vote. This bill is important but only a first step in reforming this complex, lone-wolf agency which in the past reported only to the two governors and even then was secretive about its actions and dismissive toward its customers.  

I <3 Ray Lesniak. But...

I love Senator Ray Lesniak. He was a warrior in the fight for marriage equality from the beginning. He’s for gun safety. He’s a fellow Rutgers graduate who’s always promoting our alma mater. He’s an unabashed liberal.

But I’m disappointed in his reluctance to support his legislative and party colleague, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula for a post on the state’s Board of Public Utilities. If the reporting in PolitickerNJ is true, Lesniak is waffling on that support because Chivukula had the temerity to throw his hat into the ring for the seat that’s being vacated by Rush Holt. Lesniak was supporting another candidate. Lesniak is practicing petty politics at the expense of the people of New Jersey.

Chivukula is an engineer by trade and chairs the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. He would bring a unique set of skills to the BPU position. He understands both the technical and regulatory morass that influences the BPU’s energy policies in the state. He’d be an excellent addition to that board.

But he’s not some wide-eyed anti-corporate liberal. Chivukula is quite capable of balancing the needs of the consumer while understanding the constraints that a for-profit utility must operate under. I can’t think of a better person to work these tough issues than Upendra Chivukula.

CD 12: Does Bonnie Watson Coleman Have the Advantage?

There is little public polling done on NJ congressional races, but in the 12th Congressional District the Monmouth University Poll of May 19 finds “state Senator Linda Greenstein and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman are running neck-and-neck. Greenstein has the support of 25% of likely Democratic primary voters and Watson Coleman has 24%. Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula garners 11% and Princeton physicist Andrew Zwicker has 6%. 34% are undecided. Not very conclusive if you are wondering who will win.

Below the fold are several metrics that suggest which candidate has the advantage in this hotly contested primary on Tuesday.  

Bonnie Watson Coleman goes up on the air

Hitting the notes of progressive and women’s rights, Bonnie Watson Coleman’s first TV spot hits the airwaves tomorrow.

CD12 Dem primary competitors Linda Greenstein and Upendra Chivukula got television ads up earlier. A lot rides on this primary Tuesday, including some firsts or firsts-in-a-long while. Chivukula would be the first Indian American ever to join the NJ congressional delegation. If Greenstein or Watson Coleman win, the story will be a woman in the delegation for the first time in years. And the pressure is on the Democrats. The Republicans had Marge Roukema in Congress from 1981 to 2002. The Democrats haven’t had a a woman in Congress since 1979. And New Jersey has never sent an African-American woman to Congress. By contrast New York sent groundbreaker Shirley Chisholm to the House in 1968. Forty-six years ago. And New Jersey still hasn’t had its Shirley Chisholm.

What do you think of this ad, Blue Jersey?

TONIGHT: CD12 Civil Rights & Liberties Debate – All 5 Candidates, Both Parties

New Jersey’s 12th congressional district is am

ong the best educated in the country (census). And it has been repped for 15 years by one of the most progressive members of Congress in the country (Holt: Highest Progressive Punch score in NJ’s House delegation). Part of Holt’s top designation is a near perfect ‘score’ in Human Rights & Civil Liberties, and other issues of social justice.

CD12 Democratic Debate Season – Starts Tonight in Princeton

In the race to succeed Rush Holt in Congress, there are four Democratic candidates; alphabetically Upendra Chivukula, Linda Greenstein, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Andrew Zwicker. Tonight, we’ll have our first chance to see how they stack up against each other, as the League of Women Voters moderates the first debate of the short campaign season that will produce a Democratic nominee in June. Whoever that is, will likely win November in this reliably Democratic distict.  

Tonight’s Debate 7pm – Democratic Primary Candidates

Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon St., Princeton

Sponsored by League of Women Voters & Princeton Community TV

Participating: Upendra Chivukula, Linda Greenstein, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Andrew Zwicker

Audience questions will be taken before the debate.

Televised on Princeton TV

Future events – on the jump.