Newark councilman Carlos Gonzalez turns down mayor's offer to be a judge

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on September 12, 2014

NEWARK — A game of political chess in Newark ended in a stalemate today.

Newark at-large councilman Carlos Gonzalez turned down an offer from Newark mayor Ras Baraka to be a judge in the city municipal court, which would have left his at-large seat open.

"I want to thank you for nominating me for the position of municipal court judge for the city of Newark," Gonzalez wrote in a letter dated today to Baraka.

"After much consideration and consultation with family, friends and community leaders, I have decided to continue serving the community as a councilman at-large for the great city of Newark."

Baraka was seeking to nominate Gonzalez to replace Honorable Bahir Kamil, the letter said.

Gonzalez said he first met with the Baraka administration about the possibility of leaving his council seat for a judgeship about three weeks ago.

The at-large councilman said he told the Baraka administration he would accept the nomination on Wednesday.

Baraka then sent the city council a letter nominating Gonzalez for the job, two council members confirmed.

But Gonzalez said he changed his mind yesterday after consulting with community members.

"It would have been morally wrong for me to surrender a position that we have fought so hard to obtain," he said in an interview.

Gonzalez's move to leave the council to become a city judge would have been a political opportunity for Baraka, who needs five votes on the nine-member council to get any of his proposals passed.

During the may election, Gonzalez ran on Baraka's opponent Shavar Jeffries's ticket.

But, Baraka was still able to tentatively solidify five votes on the council during a runoff election June.

A vacancy on the council would have given Baraka an opportunity to get another ally on the council.

A city spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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