The Names in the Central Ward (and Citywide) Newark Game

Newark City Hall
Council President McIver.

Backed by a powerful combination of Mayor Ras Baraka’s operation and the Essex County Democratic Committee, in addition to her own base in the Central Ward, Newark Council President Lamonica McIver remains strongly positioned to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.

As of Wednesday morning, she is the only candidate to have submitted petition signatures to the New Jersey Secretary of State’s Office. She may soon have company, however, as Linden Mayor Derek Armstead of neighboring Union County wants to contend for the congressional seat. Commanding the larger portion of the district with organizational alignment behind her, McIver is the favorite.

Should she prevail in the July 16th primary and Sept. 18th general, Newark would look to 2025 to fill the council president’s Central Ward seat after she takes federal office.

Names in the game for that seat include Amina Bey, executive director at Newark Emergency Services for Families; and Shawn McCray, attendance counselor/ basketball coach Central HS at Newark Public Schools. There’s been some buzz this week too about a possible return by Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins. Also, Essex County Commissioner A’dorian Murray-Thomas is a potential candidate for the Central Ward.

A former candidate who ran against McIver, McCray says he’s interested and would again run in a special election for the central ward seat. “I see the seat may be open and I’m watching,” McCray told InsiderNJ. “I’ve run three times before and I did pretty well. Why not give it a shot?”

McIver’s possible departure to Congress has also renewed discussions about who will eventually

Surrogate Kenney.

succeed Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, 2025 candidate for governor. The unification of Baraka’s forces and the county committee behind McIver may not hold in time for a citywide contest. North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos remains the county favorite to succeed Baraka. Baraka’s organization has a strong and game ally in Surrogate Alturrick Kenney. Other possible contenders include South Ward Councilman Pat Council, another strong ally of the Baraka organization and the South Ward Democratic Committee chairman with deep ties in Newark’s church and recreation communities. Vanquished by Baraka in 2014, Shavar Jeffries of the KIPP Foundation could also make a comeback, says a Newark source. West Ward Councilman Dupre “Doitall” Kelly, an ally of the Baraka Organization, has his own vital base of support; and attorney Chigozie Onyema impressed in his 2022 runoff bid against Kelly.

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