Booker, Newark City Council meet to talk transition


Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker exits a voting booth at the Roberto Clemente Shalom Towers. Newark, NJ 10/16/13 (Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger 

NEWARK — Newark mayor and Senator-Elect Cory Booker met with Newark City Council members this morning behind closed doors for a frank and at times contentious discussion, council members said.

"I thought it was a good meeting. We should have had more meetings like that," said Councilman and mayoral candidate Ras Baraka. "We talked about how we can use revenue to balance the budget."

Council President Luis Quintana also said the meeting was mostly positive.

"He talked about all his projects, what he wants to continue," Quintana said outside of his council office. "As a senator he said he will continue to help." 

Several council members speaking on background said at times the meeting got heated when council members chided the mayor for not having more in person budget meetings.

When Booker steps down, Quintana becomes acting mayor and then the council has 30 days to appoint an interim mayor to fill out the rest of the term.

There was no discussion today of who would be interim mayor.

"I don't want to touch that yet," Quintana said.

Following the council meeting, Booker held a meeting with his department heads, but aside form thanking them for their service, was mum on who would be staying and would be seeing out the remaining 255 days of his administration.

"I want to say thank you to the unsung heroes of Newark," he said in front of a bank of TV cameras huddled in his City Hall office with roughly 20 senior administration officials.

"I ran for U.S. Senate principally on my record as mayor, but it's really not my record," he said referring to his senior officials.

He specifically recalled the city response to Hurricane Sandy.

"I saw the folks in this room rise to a level of leadership that exceeded the expectations of many," Booker said adding he felt, "a tremendous sense of pride."

Booker declined to comment on which department leaders would be staying or going. He did not take questions from reporters during or after the news conference.

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