WHAT'S IN A NAME? Jersey City council candidate petitions court to force opponent to drop 'Chico' nickname
Mar 24, 2013 | 5803 views | 1 1 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CHICO -- Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal at the March 21 mayoral forum at the Christa McAullife School in Jersey City.
CHICO -- Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal at the March 21 mayoral forum at the Christa McAullife School in Jersey City.
JERSEY CITY – What’s the big, hot button issue in Jersey City’s Ward B? Filthy streets on West Side Ave.? No. Crime? Nah, not that, either. Taxes? Nope.

The big “issue” right now, apparently is ‘Chico,’ – not the man, but the name.

Ward B City Council candidate Gerald – or is that Jerry? – Meyers has petitioned Hudson County Superior Court to force the city clerk to drop the nickname “Chico” from the May ballot. His petition to the court is dated March 22.

Fellow Ward B candidate Khemraj Ramchal has long been known by the nickname Chico, even though it is not part of his legal name.

Meyers is the Ward B candidate on Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy’s slate; Ramchal – or is it Chico? – is the Ward B candidate for Steven Fulop, a Healy rival who is also running for mayor.

Jersey City Clerk Robert Byrne is charged with putting together the official ballot for the municipal election, to be held on May 14. Ramchal has requested that he be listed on the ballot as Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal, a request that Byrne is currently prepared to grant.

A sample ballot put together last week when ballot positions for the candidates were determined listed Ramchal with his nickname.

Meyers believes that the inclusion of nicknames on a ballot violates state law and that Byrne would be overstepping his authority if he grants Ramchal’s request. Meyers is asking the court to force Byrne to leave the nickname “Chico” off the ballot.

“The clerk is without authority to allow the use of anything other than the use of a candidate’s given name to appear on the ballot,” an attorney for Meyers states in a civil complaint to the court. “The clerk’s action in this matter, including the use of the nickname ‘Chico’ with Mr. Ramchal’s name on the ballot, is in violation of New Jersey law.”

Members of the Healy camp have previously noted that Mayor Healy is generally known as “Jerry,” but will be listed by his government name, “Jerramiah,” on the ballot. Similarly, Meyers also goes by “Jerry,” but will be listed under the name his parents gave him when he was born: Gerald. Why, they have asked, should Khemraj be treated any differently?

Ramchal and the Fulop camp have said the attempt to drop his nickname from the ballot amounts to nothing more than an attempt to confuse voters and diminish his numbers at the poll. Some corners of the city’s West Indian community, Ramchal said recently, are particularly offended by the Chico flap. Ramchal hails from Guyana. – E. Assata Wright

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March 24, 2013
Healy and his surrogate, Gerry Meyers are trying to game the system. It's long been established that nicknames are names and have a place on ballot at both state and local levels. Perhaps they Mayor cannot remember 18 months ago when his appointee to the Council went down in electoral flames, appearing on the ballot as RADAMES RAY VELAZQUEZ, Jr. Or maybe they neglected to read the ballot last November, where ROSS C. (ROCKY) ANDERSON and ROBERT “TURK” TURKAVAGE were candidates certified by the state for President and Senator.

The real issue is that they are willing to try anything, because Chico is popular and Meyers has recognition and likeability issues.

Instead they've managed to give their opponent some free publicity. Not only is the name CHICO better known because of the story, now people are also clear that he's the non-Healy guy. And they seem to have stirred up Chico's volunteers and friends something fierce. The FULOP-CHICO signs appearing all over the west side indicate something of Chico's support.