The name of attorney Kenyatta K. Stewart of Paterson’s First Ward, corporation counsel for the City of Newark, has emerged as a possible mayoral candidate as New Jersey’s third largest city staggers into next year’s election with the fresh memory of its last chief executive headed to jail.
A native of Paterson, Stewart joined Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley (HHR) as a staff attorney in October of 2008 and in August 2012, became the firm’s first unnamed partner. Notably, he led the 2010 investigation into the infamous Paterson voter fraud and witness tampering case on behalf of Councilman Kenneth McDaniel in 2010. Stewart also played a pivotal role on the “Dream Team’s” defense preventing the prosecution from taking former Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garner’s position in her criminal case.
Stewart earned his Juris Doctor degree from Hofstra Law School in Hempstead, New York in 2007. He interned with the Honorable Patricia P. Satterfield of the Queens, New York Supreme Court, the Honorable Ronald Hedges, former District of New Jersey Magistrate Judge, the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the Cochran firm. He was also a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Hofstra Moot Court Association.
Amid all the jockeying in the aftermath of former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ conviction last month, establishment insiders always enthusiastically entertain the name of Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) as a clear-the-field kind of candidate. But Wimberly – the Hackensack football coach with young sons still in college or on their way to college – has always resisted the mayoralty.
Wimberly is also a potential candidate for speaker of the General Assembly if a fistfight erupts between sitting Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) and Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19) and Democrats seek a compromise. Close to Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie, Wimberly would have an upper-hand in any conversation about a Northern alternative to Prieto.
That said, he hasn’t ruled out a 2018 citywide run himself, but he is a big fan of Stewart. A source told InsiderNJ that the assemblyman is intrigued by a Stewart candidacy, and when InsiderNJ contacted him and asked him his reaction, he said he had heard Stewart’s name in the last few days and when he did, “The name brought a smile to my face,” Wimberly said.