Challenger for state Senate suspends campaign amid allegations of false credentials

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UNION COUNTY, NJ — Jason Krychiw, a longtime Union County activist and progressive candidate for state Senate in Legislative District 20 who is running against incumbent Joe Cryan, has announced his withdrawal from the race. According to a New Jersey Globe article dated Wednesday, April 21, Krychiw has not worked at Kean University for nearly four years, even though he ran his entire campaign on the premise that he was currently teaching a Principles of Microbiology class two mornings a week.

“Jason Krychiw was a lecturer at Kean University from January to June 2017. He previously served as an adjunct professor,” Kean University said on Friday, April 30.

On Friday, April 23, Krychiw released a statement detailing his insecurity about not holding a job consistently and his unemployment, and apologized to his running mates, campaign staff, team and all those he had let down. In an act of taking responsibility for his deception, he suspended his campaign.

“It has come to my attention that there is a story circulating about my job history and employment. Before that continues to grow on its own, I wanted to set the record straight for you all to hear it from me,” Krychiw said. “For some background, after initially working in a research lab for six years, I began my career in teaching in 2015. I had worked there for years on and off as an adjunct or lecturer. Much like I refer to myself as a scientist because I worked in that field for a long period of time, I refer to myself as an educator because that is my career. It is the job I have worked longest in the last few years. However, I am currently unemployed and was not truthful about my employment history.”

Krychiw admitted he hadn’t been clear about the actual timeline of his employment with Kean University, and, when the story of his employment there continued, he failed to correct the misinformation.

“I am deeply sorry … for the hurt this has caused,” he said. “That might not mean much now, but I hope, in time, I can work to repair these relationships. Truthfully, I was also self-conscious about not holding a job consistently. But I realize that my employment or unemployment is not a measure of my self-worth. … Regardless of my personal feelings, I should have been more transparent and specific.

“The people of New Jersey deserve better from all those who have or plan to run for office, myself included,” continued Krychiw. “That is why, out of respect for my team and their message, I am suspending my campaign. I still believe in all the values and policies you have come to know me for, like fighting for fairer wages for working people, affordable housing, Medicare for all, true criminal justice reform and more. That is who I am and those are the issues I will continue to work on myself. I hope that we can continue to do good work, focus on the real issues plaguing people every day and push for the change we want to see.”

Aissa C. Heath and Ricky Castaneda, progressive challengers for state Assembly who were running on the same ticket as Krychiw, felt so blindsided by his actions of dishonesty and deceit that they have also withdrawn from the race, feeling that they could not, in good conscience, continue to campaign.

“This campaign was supposed to be run on the progressive principles of transparency, truth and accountability,” Heath said on Friday, April 23. “And unfortunately, because of Jason’s actions, we can no longer say that. I can no longer in good faith continue to run, knowing that so much trust was broken. On behalf of the LD20 campaign, I want to apologize to everyone who believed in the campaign. None of our staff, volunteers or even his running mates knew he misled us, and, had we known, we would never put so many people through this hurt. There is no ill will wished; however, the pain Jason has caused our entire campaign cannot be taken back. The progressive movement needs to move forward, but it cannot move forward with this campaign. I am deeply, deeply sorry for all those who believed in the LD20 campaign.”
Castaneda, Aissa’s running mate, echoed her sentiments.

“The manipulation, deception and gaslighting have hurt me, Aissa, our campaign staff, our supporters and the working class, for whom this campaign was launched,” Castaneda said. “We are dropping out of this race because we have broken your trust and let you all down. I am sorry to our campaign team for trusting us and to the supporters who believed in this campaign. The progressive movement shall need to move forward without the LD20 campaign.”

According to Heath and Castaneda’s release, the Krychiw, Heath, and Castaneda campaign fully launched in January with multiple ads citing Krychiw’s current position as an educator and advocating for progressive values, such as health care, the environment and labor. The slate has been endorsed by Sunrise Movement; the Nigerian Americans Public Affairs Committee; Run for Something, which endorsed Heath alone; and the Progressive Democrats of New Jersey. The slate officially filed to run on Monday, April 5.