Bret Schundler's Biography
A special message from Bret Schundler
Bret Schundler, the first Republican Mayor of Jersey City since World War I, was taught by his parents that he had an obligation to use his talents in service to others. As both a private and public person, he has shown he has the courage to lead and win, taking on and defeating the special interests when necessary to do what's right.
Bret -- the grandson and son of immigrants -- was born the youngest of nine children in Morristown, New Jersey. He grew up in Middlesex and Union Counties, was an all-state football player at Westfield High School, studied for a semester in Israel, and graduated with honors from Harvard.
In college, Bret made plans to become an inner-city pastor; but while visiting Washington, D.C. to research a church in its poorest neighborhood, he also undertook a congressional internship to learn about government. The internship led to a job with a Democratic Congressman, and that job led to a position in Gary Hart's 1984 campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
But that experience disillusioned him about the Democratic Party. He came to conclude that the party didn't match its policies to its rhetoric, talking about compassion while acting to keep the poor in a state of dependence.
Disillusioned with the Democrats, Bret left politics. He moved to Jersey City, worked for Salomon Brothers and then C.J. Lawrence, and answered his faith calling to minister to the poor as a layman. He taught a Bible Study, volunteered with his wife to man food pantry and homeless shelter programs, became a grass roots community leader, and helped pass Jersey City's historic preservation ordinance.
After taking a year to tour Eastern Europe and witness first-hand with his wife Lynn the historic overthrow of Soviet communism, Bret recommitted himself to politics - as a Republican. He made national headlines in 1992 when he took on and upset the infamous Hudson County Democratic Machine to become the first Republican Mayor of Jersey City since 1917.
After 75 years of one-party machine rule, Jersey City was hurting -- crime, corruption, and poor public services combined with out-of-control spending and soaring taxes to drive jobs and residents out of the community. Those who couldn't afford to leave had to watch helplessly as the equity in their homes was destroyed. Bret attacked those problems head-on, building coalitions across party lines to do what's right one issue at a time and improve the lives of his fellow citizens. His innovative solutions to public policy problems have turned the city around, and have won him national acclaim as a leader for the future.
The result? Bret has been reelected twice -- with 69 and 59 percent of the vote -- achieving the greatest winning margin for a mayoral candidate in the history of the city, and becoming the city's longest-serving Mayor in more than half a century. Even more remarkable: in his last reelection victory, Bret won 45 percent of the city's African American vote, and a stunning 70 percent of the city's Hispanic vote.
A dynamic executive with the courage to lead and win, Bret has attracted profiles and praise from all over -- Time magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Reader's Digest have all written glowingly of his successes, Jack Kemp has called Bret "the gold standard of political leadership," and Bill Buckley has called him a future presidential contender.
Bret believes Ronald Reagan said it best: The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become. Bret believes we have it within our power to make that dream possible for each of our fellow citizens. He and Lynn want to help make that dream real, and want to pass that dream on to their children, Shaylin and Hans, because they believe it is the good fight which is the good life, and love for others that leads to happiness.