Clifton Native Seeks a Seat in Trenton


photo credit: Nia Gill campaign

Update April 13: Frank Kasper has withdrawn from the race, citing personal reasons.

You have probably seen Clifton native Frank Kasper around town. He is often seen smiling and greeting familiar faces at football games, citywide events like flag raisings or street fairs, and has been on the campaign trail more than once. Kasper grew up in the Athenia section of Clifton with his older brother, attended School 13, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and graduated from Clifton High School in 2003. He went to Penn State where he earned his Bachelor’s degree and he holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from Montclair State University. Kasper also has his supervisor’s certification and currently teaches in the ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) preschool at CELA B. He is going back to school for an LDTC certificate in the hope of becoming a Child Study Team member, where he would work closely with children and families in special education.

Frank Kasper first ran for an elected position in 2016, just 13 years after he graduated from high school. He was a young candidate for the Board of Education in a year where there were more candidates than seats. That first run was unsuccessful but he ran again the following year, won, and served on the Board until 2021. In 2022 Kasper was among the pool of 17 candidates vying for a seat on the Clifton City Council. Clifton favored its incumbents and Kasper did not win a seat. Perhaps that was for the best, as an exciting opportunity presented itself by pure happenstance.

While out to lunch with a friend, Kasper was introduced to recently retired Senator Loretta Weinberg and current Senator Nia Gill (D). Following that chance meeting, Senator Gill approached Kasper and asked him to join her and Montclair’s Eve Robinson on her ticket. He is running with Gill and Robinson to be State Assemblyman for District 27.

Formerly part of District 34, in which Gill currently serves as Senator, Clifton is now part of 27 along with Montclair, West Orange, Millburn, Roseland, and Livingston. Redistricting is a measure enacted every ten years, following the federal census, in order to maintain an equal population in each of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts. Each district is represented by one senator and two assemblypeople. As municipalities gain or lose residents, districts grow or shrink and adjustments are made to equalize them. Members of the Assembly serve two-year terms and together with the 40-member Senate, they make up the legislative branch of our state political system. Members of the Assembly must be at least 21 years of age and have been New Jersey residents for at least two years. All legislators must live in the districts they represent.

Kasper said of his decision to run, “I wanted to give Clifton a voice in Trenton after Eagler came back to Clifton.” Peter Eagler, who served on Clifton’s City Council from 1990 until 2002, had served in the New Jersey General Assembly as assemblyman for the 34th district from 2002-2006 before coming back to City Council, where he served as Councilman from 2006-2022. He did not seek reelection in 2022.

Kasper said that the biggest issue in Clifton is problems with our infrastructure and the related flooding and he would like to focus on that in Trenton. “How do we have a voice to help residents fix that problem? How do I find solutions with our City Council and get help from Trenton?” He also wants to shine a light on education to make sure that we continue to be appropriately funded. As an ally to the LGBTQ community, he is dedicated to making sure that they know they have a voice in Trenton, too.

Richard Codey, also a Democrat, currently serves as Senator for District 27 and will be going head-to-head with Gill in the Primaries. He is running for reelection with incumbent John McKeon and newcomer Alixon Collazos-Gill. Former Assemblyman Craig Stanley is also on the ballot. At the writing of this article, there were no declared Republicans on the ballot for District 27.

The Primary election, in which voters will choose who ends up on November’s ballot, is June 6, 2023. In a contested district, like 27, these votes are critical for determining whose names will appear on the General Election ballot on November 7, 2023.

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Kasper shared that he will be taking a short hiatus from the campaign trail while he attends to a close relative who needs medical care.

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