Baraka to deliver second 'State of the City' address in March

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on February 29, 2016

Mayor Ras Baraka delivers the annual State of the City address inside City Hall in Newark, NJ 3/17/15

 

NEWARK – Mayor Ras Baraka is just two weeks out from delivering his second "State of the City" address.

The mayor will sum up the year that was on March 15 at 6 p.m. at the the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Victoria Theatre.

According to a release issued by the city earlier this month, Baraka is expected to focus largely on his administration's accomplishments in economic development and public safety, and other areas in which he is "carrying out his vision for the future of Newark."

During last year's address at a packed Council Chambers at City Hall, Baraka proudly trumpeted declines in violent crime during his first year in office, including a 40 percent reduction in homicides during the first quarter of 2015.

Those gains were short-lived, however, and Baraka has acknowledged challenges in tackling crime and public safety issue at a recent string of Town Hall meetings, Newark recorded 105 homicides last year, an increase that prompted him to merge the city's police and fire departments.

The remainder of the year has also been characterized by similar ups and downs for the first-term mayor.

He scored a major victory in securing a promise from Gov. Chris Christie to return the city's school district to local control after more than 20 years – a deal that coincided with the ouster of controversial school superintendent Cami Anderson. Since then, however, he has faced criticism for what some early backers believe has been a move toward the center in the city's heated education debate.

Interest from developers and private sector businesses have remained strong over the last year, with hotels and other projects springing up in and around downtown.

While last year's address was given before a packed Council Chambers at City Hall, the 2016 version will be moved to NJPAC. The City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a proposed $7,500 gift to the theater for use of the facility.

This year's address will be aired on Newark government access television and may be streamed live on the city's website.

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