NEWARK – The COVID-19 crisis hit the Crump family hard, putting paterfamilias Larry in the hospital at a particularly terrible time, when his wife had pneumonia. Crump didn’t even have a room, just a bed in a little section on the side and when he called his family, in severe physical distress, he didn’t know if it would be for the last time.
Separated from his ailing wife and nowhere else for their children to go at the height of the pandemic, the the faith-centered Crumps pulled through, in part with the help of their family and friends, as fraternity and masonic brothers other Newarkers did what they could to ease the crisis.
“I was able to come out of there,” said Larry Crump, who spent three days in the hospital. He credits God – and his physician with – saving his life. The latter called an audible at the hospital to give him a large amount of intravenous Vitamin C.
Ultimately, Crump says he came out more determined to help others.
“When you’re in a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen, it focuses you on what’s important,” the bow-tied councilman told InsiderNJ. “It focused me on my family, and my family extends beyond my blood. The people of the City of Newark are my family. I say this all the time, but if my neighbor is not successful, I’m not successful.”
The sitting At-Large Councilman, having occupied the seat left by his mother Mildred Crump, who
retired last year, Larry Crump is running unopposed to secure a four-year term as a member of the Baraka Team. That’s the group of allies put together by Newark incumbent Mayor Ras Baraka, who on May 10th seeks a third term as leader of New Jersey’s largest city.
A former chief-of-staff to his mother, Crump said he learned the tough local political trade going back to when his mother first won her council seat in 1994. “We do the best we can to help, and I’ve helped people who have called me every name but the son of God,” Crump said with a laugh. “Some people yelling do need the help, and no matter what side of the election you’re on, you help. I learned that from my mother. Many times the same people who yelled at her and cursed her out, came up to office and asked for money or assistance. So, I’ve always strived to help, but I became more focused after COVID. Once I became a councilman it was even more important, the realization that I’m here to help as much as I can. It is amazing, the people who stopped up for us. At the end of the day, it’s a place of strength. My wife and I – our family – we got a second chance.”
He intends to use the chance wisely in his work, he said.
A son of Newark’s South Ward, Crump studied banking and finance and graduated from Morehouse College in 1991. He learned campaigns and elections from the late Carl Sharif (who worked on his mother’s first successful council campaign) and graduated from Rutgers Law School in 1998. He immersed himself, along with his close friend former West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice, in the activities and campaigns of the Young Democrats. “I learned from Carl Sharif to be thoughtful in doing the campaign and not reactive,” he told InsiderNJ. “You can win by just following your process and staying the course. That’s what we did. We laid out the theme of my mother’s campaign. That’s why she was so successful, and when she won ran for mayor and lost and came back with Cory Booker, people thought she was still an elected official. It’s because she never left the people.”
Morehouse augmented his Newark roots with lifelong deep connections and friendships.
“When people ask me about going to an historically black college, I tell them to prepare themselves for one of the best experiences of their lives,” Crump told InsiderNJ. “At Morehouse, everyone is rooting for you. Everybody is successful. I met people at Morehouse, and from the first day of freshman year until today, we are still good friends. The Class of 1991 has a Zoom reunion every Friday. It’s just an amazing thing. Morehouse pushes you and makes you a stronger person.”
When he came back home from Morehouse, Crump worked at AT&T for four years in processing and cost analysis for different AT&T centers around the country, on issues directly impacting people’s company jobs. “That experience helped me in trying to balance what’s necessary versus a want especially during COVID,” said Crump. His community involvement experience coaching little league, a parent boy scout leader, and Toys for Tots. His legal training prepared him, he said, to be a more effective tenant advocate.
Crump is a proud member of Team Baraka.
“The mayor and his team did an amazing job during the pandemic,” he said. “Some people disagreed with the shutdown but they do not have all the information he has. We elected him and put him in a place of trust and he did the right thing for the people and the people coming to visit. In the long run, it helped make Newark a safer city and I am 100% behind what he did with the mask mandates and shutting down the city. We are where we are right now because it takes a strong leader to do that. There’s not a crisis we need to get ahead of the city. We’re already prepared. We’ve been through the initial volley of COVID and the Omicron, but the city is prepared for anything that will come down. We have great visionary leader who is doing great things.”
He described Team Baraka as a strong local ticket, with candidates united by a commitment to the community.
“The first thing I believe is Newark is in our hearts,” said Crump. “That’s critical. We won’t always agree, but we’re not disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. We may not take the same path but we all want to do something better for the residents. It’s important to have a team like that. Everyone has different strengths. People stand up at council meetings and say we’re puppets, behold to the mayor. That’s not true. I’ve never gotten a phone call about how to vote. That doesn’t happen, at least as far as I know. All the individuals are type a personalities. We want what’s best, and won’t blindly follow the mayor.”
Crump prioritizes seniors, those who are economically disadvantaged, the homeless, and has a particular passion for combating autism. He attended this week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new arts live and work space at 505 Clinton Avenue, historically a troubled part of town. The new building, Crump said, “helps anchor that area. The police station is the main hub but then this location right there, residents living in a building vacant and abandoned building and fostering the arts, will help the neighborhood.”
Never a proponent of marijuana legalization, Crump as councilman said now that it’s here, he wants to make sure sellers have equal opportunity to distribute. “If it’s here everybody should prosper,” he said, as he seeks thoughtful implementation of legalization in the city.
Crump never intended to run for his mother’s seat, he says.
The mayor and his team had slated Crump’s running mate, Reverend Louise Rountree, for Mildred Crump’s seat.
The son would fill the term and hand off to Rountree, he told InsiderNJ, but an opening occurred with the retirement of At-Large Councilman Eddie Osborne, he said.
Crump backed Baraka’s 2014 run for mayor, when he defeated Shavar Jeffries.
“It was 2013, believe, and I talked to the mayor and Middy [Baraka, the mayor’s brother]. I knew Shavar and a lot of people tried to pull me that way,” he recalled. “But I believed Ras was going to take Newark to the next level. My mother’s office was next door to his. I saw a lot of what they did and wanted to be a part of it. My mother was definitely a part of it eight years ago and this is an administration that started with a $90 million deficit that this year lowered property taxes. Among all the other accomplishments, how do you not continue to move forward with such great progress? I love the city. I want to see nothing but good, and if we continue doing what we’re doing, the sky’s the limit.”
If it seemed a long way from his own personal throes, and the throes of his wife, in the middle of the COVID crisis, for Crump it was still based in the community, and it was still the same place, and ultimately, he said, it was a place of strength.