Meet the mayoral candidate: Brandon Farzad
Associate News Editor
This article is the fourth and final installment of a series profiling candidates for the mayor of Newark. The election will take place on April 9.
Brandon Farzad is the product of small business.
From the age of nine on, he worked in his father’s pizza shop washing dishes. His shifts were long, sometimes spanning 16 hours, but he and his family persisted and eventually grew the restaurant into a catering business.
“I know the struggle of a small business owner,” Farzad, who has lived in Newark for seven years, said. “They’re trying to make ends meet … those are the hardest working people in this country. I understand them because that was my father.”
Now 32 years old, Farzad seeks to capitalize on his relatability as he campaigns to be the next mayor of Newark. His platform centers on improving organization, logical decision-making and the trust between the university and the city.
Organization is at the forefront of Farzad’s mind; he believes the City Council still needs to improve in this area. While he noted that there has been progress, he still believes he could bring the stern leadership needed to stabilize the decision-making progress of the council.
“I have a way that I conduct myself which is focused and controlled and organized,” Farzad said. “I would like to make sure that everyone in council knows the facts about what’s on the agenda, the details, before they come to the City Council meeting. I don’t think that that’s something that happens right now. It’s pretty obvious when you go to City Council meetings and see the kinds of questions that people are asking.”
The organization that Farzad hopes to bring to the table is what believes will springboard the city into logical decision-making, most notably in the balancing of the budget.
Farzad said that he believes his knowledge of money flow will help him lead the City Council into fiscal responsibility and out of debt.
Newark currently has a total primary government outstanding debt of $15,269,835, according to the city’s most recent record, The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of 2017. This debt has decreased every year since 2012 when it peaked at $25,185,733.
Some of the city’s debt stems from its selling of government bonds in 2002 to build a water reservoir north of White Clay Creek. The city has paid back these obligations in chunks, with the first batch refunded in 2011. The bonds will continue to mature on various dates through Sept. 14, 2022.
Subtracting total amount the city owes to all its bondholders, Newark has $8,598,113 remaining in primary government outstanding debt.
“I will make decisions that are logical in order to save the city from getting into a level of debt that is irreversible,” Farzad said. “I would like to balance our budget, and it’s not that difficult. We’re not as far deep in as people think.”
Further playing into his intentions to improve logical decision-making, Farzad said he plans to utilize the various skill sets on the council and its staff to make educated decisions.
“If I’m not the expert, I want the expert there because their opinion matters way more than mine does,” Farzad said. “You need to trust your staff. Of course. You have to.”
Farzad also wants to strengthen relationships within Newark, including that between the city and the university.
While he acknowledged that he believes the relationship between the two parties is not poor, Farzad also said there is room to improve the trust between both sides. By cooperating in a civil and mutually understanding manner, Farzad hopes to build upon the existing relationship between Newark and the university, which he thinks are mutually dependent.
“One thing the city has to get straight is the university has a lot more power than the city,” Farzad said. “They can do whatever they want. Do they want to do that? No. They’re nice people. Right? But when push comes to shove, they will win, so pushing is not the way to do this. We need to have open, understanding discussions.”
Meet the mayoral candidates
Some locals are frustrated with the university because of the prevalence of student-hosted parties in residential areas, according to Farzad.
The City Council attempted to address this concern by proposing the “Unruly Gathering Ordinance,” which would impose a more specific code of punishment for those found responsible for illegal parties.
Farzad said he understands what the council hoped to accomplish with this ordinance, but he does not believe it is the way to limit partying in Newark’s neighborhoods.
“Here’s a fun fact: this is a college town,” Farzad said. “You will not stop college kids from partying. End of sentence. Now, what you can do is change where they will party.”
In an ideal world, Farzad said he would encourage partying to migrate to Main Street by advocating for more venues where students could go out dancing, but he pointed to one clause of the city’s zoning code that blocks his idea.
The code states that no “Live night club or floor show type entertainment … that may be accompanied by dancing by patrons” is permitted unless it is a “one person electronically amplified” act that is meant to play “accessory or background music.”
“The reason they made it this way is because Council doesn’t understand students,” Farzad said.
If this code were enforced at existing bars and restaurants, it would prohibit DJs from performing dance music at local nightlife hotspots, but they perform regularly at Klondike Kate’s and Deer Park Tavern.
Farzad plans to revisit this code if elected in hopes to move students’ nightlife options out of residential areas.
This interest in business stems from Farzad’s childhood centered on his father’s restaurant mixed with his current pursuance of an MBA from the university. Farzad also earned a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in the same field from Georgia Institute of Technology.
With his experience in designing rocket motors, Farzad currently works as a process engineer at Northrop Grumman’s Elkton, Md., office.
Less than one month remains until the election, and Farzad said that he thinks he can win it if he can overcome his lack of widespread name recognition.
“If I don’t win this time, I will run again and again and again until I get it,” Farzad said. “So you know I’m in it for the long run. How many candidates can say that?”
Executive Editor Brandon Holveck is a former teammate of Brandon Farzad on the university’s club track and field team. Holveck did not participate in editing this piece.