Baraka hires third communications director since taking office

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for
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on January 20, 2016

Frank Baraff


NEWARK – For the third time since taking office, Mayor Ras Baraka has hired a new communications director.

Frank Baraff, a veteran publicist and political strategist who worked on Baraka's 2014 campaign, was brought on board earlier this month to succeed recently departed director Felipe Luciano.

Since 1979, Baraff has worked as a strategist and media consultant with politicians on the national, state and local levels. His long list of clients include 20 years with  former New Jersey governor Dick Codey, and stints working for former New York Congresswoman Bella Azbug, former Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith and West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi.

He has also served as press secretary to former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, and worked on campaigns for federal office by such notable names as U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

Prior to beginning his new job at City Hall, Baraff had been on staff at New York City strategic consulting firm The Advance Group.

In an interview Tuesday, the Maplewood native said he was compelled to return to Newark after bearing witness to Baraka's engagement of interest groups from all corners of the city.

"If you look at almost all of his programs, they have that kind of a broad base input. It's a unique way of managing a city," he said.

Upon taking office in July 2014, Baraka hired local public relations consultant Sakina Cole as communications director. Cole left the post just seven months later, however, to pursue opportunities with her private communications firm, Cole Media Inc. – which has since been awarded a no-bid contract to provide marketing and branding services for the city.

She was replaced by Luciano, a former New York City activist and television reporter, at the $106,817 post. Details of his recent exit were not immediately available.

The city also added a press secretary Marjorie Harris, to its communications roster last March.

In his new role, Baraff said he plans to increase the use of social media, video and other forms of outreach to help residents and other community stakeholders be both informed and involved in city affairs.

"I believe that there's a story to tell about Newark and about this administration," he said. "I'm going to make sure that the story gets out to people."

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