As Newark’s Central Ward heads toward a significant 2022 election season, consider the fact that since
the George Branch era, no other ward in Brick City has faced quite as much political volatility.
The late Councilman Branch, who died in 2009, served for 16 years as leader of the sprawling Central Ward. He lost the seat in 1998 to none other than Cory Booker (pictured, top), who famously received the campaign counsel of the late Carl Sharif to walk the entirety of the ward if he wanted to win.
Booker ran for mayor in 2002 rather than pursue reelection. Charles Bell won the vacant seat the same year Booker failed to unseat incumbent Mayor Sharpe James, who subsequently imploded on corruption charges.
In 2006, Dana Rone, running as a member of the Booker for Mayor Team, won the seat. Jammed up on a charge of abusing her power, Rone surrendered the Central Ward throne in 2008, prompting a special election. This was the same year Barack Obama successfully pursued the presidency. A come-backing Bell wrested the seat from labor leader Eddie Osborne, despite the latter’s attempts to transmogrify the national-sized “O” in Obama to his own symbolic local advantage.
Bell ran for reelection in 2010 – this time with Mayor Booker behind him, not against him – only to lose to Carl Sharif’s son, Darrin Sharif. Sharif ran for reelection in 2014 and lost 62-37% to Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, an ally of the Ras Baraka for Mayor Team.
Chaneyfield Jenkins and Baraka lost their way together, and the councilwoman ran against the incumbent mayor in 2018 rather than pursue the Central Ward seat. Baraka ally Lamonica McIver won the seat and now faces reelection in 2022, presumably against none other than a come-backing Chaneyfield Jenkins.