In Newark, Baraka and His Team Intent on New Energy for the City

Baraka and McIver at the Clerk’s Office.

NEWARK – Mayor Ras Baraka and his ticket mates appeared at City Hall this morning, smiles crinkling their eyes above masks, acknowledging cheering and clapping, walking single file in the long wraparound hallway toward the clerk’s office like a crew of astronauts on their way to a deep space launch.

Actually, they were just submitting close to 20,000 petition signatures, but the palpable energy around them at the crowded event signaled decided citywide strength.

Baraka reshuffled the team this year, as he seeks to secure a third, four-year term on May 10th.

He doesn’t have a significant challenger, or so say the signs around him, but a few of his allies are likely to find themselves in key battles, especially in a couple of the wards.

Five new candidates accompanied the mayor and his other allies to deposit their petition signatures to qualify to appear on the ballot in the coming contest. As expected, the mayor supplanted John Sharpe James with Pat Council as his third ward candidate; Joe McCallum with DoItAll Kelly as his West Ward candidate; Mildred Crump with Larry Crump for one of four at-large seats; At-Large Councilman Eddie Osborne with Louise Rountree; and, in place of retiring East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, former policeman Louis Weber.

Four others: Central Ward Councilwoman Lamonica McIver, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, and At-Large Councilman Carlos Gonzalez, remain in place on the ticket.

“They bring new energy,” the mayor told InsiderNJ. “New people bring new ideas. We want to try to give an opportunity to other folks it, and it brings excitement to the campaign.”

A longtime ally of Baraka, Council heads the city recreation department.

“Patrick Council has been a staple of the South Ward for a long time, with programs like Jackie Robinson Little League; all the recreation in some way has been impacted by Reverend Council,” said Baraka, reflecting on his choice for the mayor’s home ward. “This gives him an opportunity to spread his wings after all the time he has been taking a back seat to everybody else.”

Kelly in the west represents another key change in direction for Team Baraka, as he hopes to replace Councilman McCallum, who got jammed up on corruption. “I am very disheartened that situation happened,” Baraka said. “My prayers are with Joe and his family, but we’re not going to tolerate that.

“Dupre Kelly is a kid from the west ward, born and raised in the West Ward,” the mayor said of the rapper and community activist who joined him today with other slate mates.

Facing his third term in office, Baraka hailed the acceleration of affordable housing in Newark, with an inclusionary zoning ordinance by requiring developers to set aside 20 percent of their residential units for affordable housing, in projects that consist of 30 or more new or substantially rehabilitated units.

As a consequence of that ordinance, “So much more is going to happen to create new affordable housing  as the city grows,” the mayor said. “Now it’s happening on its own, as a result of that ordinance; it’s on auto-pilot. What we are doing is organizing development in a way so that it doesn’t push everybody out.”

Baraka also welcomed the federal infrastructure act’s impact on Newark, and said the city intends to use those dollars to assist people with their mortgage payments, expand broadband to every house in the city. in much the same way that Newark has replaced its lead service lines, and supplemented its budget to avoid the layoff of fire, police and sanitation workers.

“We were able to reduce taxes in the budget – a very small reduction, but it’s the first reduction in 34 years,” the mayor said. “We are also excited about building two more [homeless] shelters, which we anticipate will help alleviate a lot of the trouble around the train station.”

The candidates on the mayor’s ticket appeared excited.

“This administration has done such phenomenal work; I want to be a part of it,” said Rountree.

“Being present shows power; just being present with the residents and the business owners of the West Ward,” said Kelly.

First elected to the city council in 1994, Quintana, with the retirement last year of Mildred Crump, his slate mate of that same year, is now the longest-serving councilman. Quintana also did an eight-month stint as mayor of the city (2013-2014) when Cory Booker moved from the mayoralty to the United States Senate.

“The mayor’s very willing to listen and work with us,” Quintana said of Baraka, “probably more so than any other mayor.”

Larry Crump, son of the retired councilwoman, takes his mother’s place on the ticket.

“My mother was in service for the people and I believe in doing the same thing,” Crump told InsiderNJ. “It’s important we take care of our residents, including our seniors, because we stand on their shoulders, and our youth because they’re our future.”

Central Ward Councilwoman McIver said she doesn’t know if former Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins will oppose her this year.

“It’s a democracy, where people are free to run,” McIver said.

For her part, she said she prides herself in being visible and accessible to her constituents.

Newark insiders expressed surprise at the time with news that Osborne – a labor leader with LIUNA – will not occupy a place with Team Baraka. But perhaps the most significant shift this year comes with the retirement from city politics – at least for now – of South Ward Councilman James, son of former Mayor Sharpe James.

“Amazing kudos to Councilman James,” Council told InsiderNJ.

The city recreation director – who stood beside legendary Weequahic High School Football Coach Brian Logan, who heartily endorsed him – confirmed Mayor Baraka’s enthusiasm for new energy on the ticket, and said he plans to supply some in the south.

“I have probably been the most present and active person in the South Ward, not just youth football and little league baseball but also pastoring in the South ward, and serving as the former vice chair of the Newark Public School Board, and as president of the preschool council. It’s always about activating people in the community and giving them a voice. This is giving them a voice. I look forward to working with the residents of the South Ward and more importantly having the residents work to build and refocus and reimagine a better South Ward.”

New Baraka Slate Mates: Rountree (At-Large) and Council (South Ward).

 

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One response to “In Newark, Baraka and His Team Intent on New Energy for the City”

  1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    TERRANCE L. BANKSTON CALLS OUT CORRUPTION IGNORED BY PAT COUNCIL

    Terrance L. Bankston, Candidate for Newark’s South Ward Councilman Calls Out Corruption That Took Place at Rotunda Recreation and Wellness Center in Newark, NJ
    Ignored by Patrick Council Director of Recreation, Cultural Affairs and Senior Services

    Newark NJ: In 2019, it was discovered that a gang used the Rotunda Recreation and Wellness Center on Clifton Avenue in Newark, NJ, to distribute, store and sell kilos of heroin, right under the nose of Patrick Council, the Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Senior Services. “This corruption was unconscionable and the fault lands squarely on the poor leadership of Pat Council, exclaimed Terrance L. Bankston, Candidate for Newark’s South Ward Councilman. “His job is to make sure that our kids have a safe-haven to go for recreation, but instead, he ignored the signs of a dangerous drug trafficking ring operating in plain sight. Mr. Council should be held accountable for dropping the ball for the protection of the most vulnerable population in our community…our children!”

    It was recently reported that the former Newark City Employees plead guilty to the drug trafficking scheme, however, the damage was done. “This is beyond comprehension! Newark city workers pled guilty to using a municipal recreation center, the very place taxpayers fund to provide our young people a safe-haven from the streets, as a stash house for the delivery of large heroin shipments and the stashing of cash from drug sales,” expressed Shavar Jeffries, attorney and education advocate. “You couldn’t make this up if you tried, and municipal leadership should be ashamed and embarrassed.” In response, Terrance Bankston said, “I concur!

    This corruption was not an instance, it was a pattern of poor leadership and improper oversight by the department’s current director, Patrick Council, who has the arrogance to now want to bring that same, dismissive, unreliable leadership to the South Ward Council seat?? That’s despicable! His bid for South Ward Councilman in 2022 should be viewed as both shameful and unworthy!

    His second-rate, substandard, unsatisfactory leadership, should not be taken seriously! The South Ward requires a collaborative and visionary leader as our next South Ward council representative. We must stop rewarding inferior candidates, for their bad behavior, because it’s hurtful, not helpful to our city, nor to the South Ward.”

    # # #

    More About Terrance L. Bankston

    Terrance L. Bankston was born and reared in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated in 2000 from Arts High School, as a Television Communications Major. Terrance attained a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science, with a concentration in Public Administration from Bloomfield College in 2004. Mr. Bankston attained his Master’s Degree in Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2007.

    Between 2005 and 2010, Terrance was hired as a political operative for the then Mayor and now U.S. Senator, Cory A. Booker, as well as a host of other local, county and state officials. Between 2006 and 2013, he served as a Director of Constituent Affairs for the City of Newark and then Director of the Newark Youth One Stop Career Center. Mr. Bankston led the agency to the status of #1 youth one-stop statewide. Under Terrance’s leadership, the agency not only met and exceeded all federal and state Workforce Investment Act (WIA) measurements, but also exceeded the state’s literacy rate. Since then, Terrance has served as the lead consultant for local and international non-profit organizations, such as Clean Water Action, the South Ward Clinton Hill Community Action Group, NewarkDIG, NJ/NY Baykeepers, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and serving as Director of the Parent Coalition of Excellent Education (PC2E).

    Most Recently, Terrance Bankston served as the Director for Student Leadership and Engagement & Special Programs at Bloomfield College, making it the 5th directorship of his career. In 2008, Ebony Magazine recognized Terrance Bankston as the top 30 under 30 leaders on the rise in the USA, which was a perfect prediction for his present position as a well-respected public servant and 2022 South Ward Councilman candidate.

    Link to full press release: https://www.facebook.com/1128510280/posts/10225108777563090/?d=n

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