Newark election 2014: candidates compete for council seats

By Naomi Nix/The Star-Ledger
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on May 11, 2014

The City Clerk's Office conducted a ballot drawing for Newark's 2014 election


NEWARK — While it’s the campaign antics in Newark’s mayoral election that make headlines, city council races can be even more competitive.

A total of 48 candidates are competing for nine slots — and in some cases, who the likely winner will be is anyone’s guess.

Those throwing their hats in the ring are numerous and diverse. There are longtime incumbents, political legacies, as well as young and fearless hopefuls.

Although they may be running with similar platforms — from lowering crime to improving education to fostering economic development — the candidates have brought their individual approaches to how to move the city forward.

"It’s large," said Clement Price, the city’s historian and professor at Rutgers University-Newark. "I believe it’s a manifestation of the kind of energized local politics here in Newark."

Take a look at what they have to offer.

CENTRAL WARD: Councilman Darrin Sharif is fending off competition to maintain his council seat in the ward, from former Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins and central ward Democratic chair Andre Speight.

Independent candidates Rafael Brito and Czezre Adam say a change in leadership is vital to tackle the tricky issues facing the ward, such as crime, the need for better development and an ailing school system.

Sharif points to a slew of development projects, including luxury apartment buildings, senior housing and retail space that have popped up under his leadership. He hopes to continue fostering relationships with colleges, nonprofit organizations, businesses and residents to create meaningful programming, such as tutoring and job training for local residents.

"People said they were looking for jobs and economic opportunity," he said. "That’s been a big, important achievement."

It’s a record, Sharif argues, that is better than his chief rival, Chaneyfield-Jenkins. The Star-Ledger has reported that Chaneyfield-Jenkins owes thousands of dollars in back taxes and has made controversial financial expenditures while she was on the council.

Chaneyfield-Jenkins, who is running on Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka’s ticket, did not respond to requests for comment. On Baraka’s campaign website she touts her role in establishing small-business loan programs and the Newark downtown special improvement district.

Speight, who is backed by Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries, is running on a platform of expanding social services for seniors and employment opportunities.

SOUTH WARD: Here, at-large Councilman John Sharpe James, a decorated veteran and son of former Mayor Sharpe James, is running against Brian Logan, a police detective and popular football coach.

Raised in Weequahic, James was 2 years old when his father was elected South Ward councilman.

James is backed by Baraka and hopes to tackle rising taxes, crime, unemployment and social services for seniors.

On the Jeffries ticket, Logan has spent the past two decades working as a Newark police officer and football coach at West Side High and Weequahic High.

If elected, he aims to build a better bridge between religious leaders and the police department to lift at-risk teens and to expand job-skills training for youth and adults.

Newark entrepreneur Jarmar Bass said he wants to increase arts and cultural offerings in the city, expand options for recreational activities for kids, and transition more cops from desk jobs to patrolling duties, among other initiatives.

NORTH WARD: After dropping out of the Newark mayoral election, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos is running for a third term on the city council against Luis Lopez, who is running on Baraka’s ticket.

Ramos is running on Jeffries’ ticket. Under his leadership, he said, the North Ward has seen new recreation facilities, more housing opportunities and increased neighborhood collaboration with the police department.

If elected, he’d focus on reducing wasteful spending (including in the city council) and find creative ways to address public safety.

Lopez, former principal of Roberto Clemente elementary school, said he wants to reduce crime and unemployment and address the lack of recreational opportunities for young people. He is the founder of the Roberto Clemente Baseball League.

WEST WARD: This race was thrown wide open after Councilman Ron Rice decided not to seek re-election. Kevin Waters, a city pension fund supervisor and founder of the West Ward Little league, is running on Jeffries’ ticket. Joe McCallum, Rice’s senior aide, is running on Baraka’s ticket.

If elected, Waters, a former municipal council aide, said he would like to find ways to raise revenue to put more cops on the streets, expand employment opportunities and promote healthy families. "The only thing that is really relevant is making a difference," he said.

McCallum also wants to tackle public safety issues and expand job opportunities for city residents, but said his experience under Rice will help him get the job done.

Maryam Bey, a former school board member and aide to former Councilwoman Bessie Walker, said she wants to address prisoner re-entry, offer increased support to neighborhood schools, and open more Boys and Girls clubs.

EAST WARD: After more than 15 years as an East Ward city councilman, Augusto Amador doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon. Amador, who is running on Jeffries’ ticket, is seeking a fifth term. He faces competition from four independent candidates.

Luis Correia, a Marine Corps veteran and current aide to at-large Councilman James, is running on a platform of freezing tax rates and consolidating services to save money.

Similarly, Jonathan Seabra, a recent master’s graduate in public administration at CUNY, wants to stabilize taxes, increase public safety and beautify the ward.

AT-LARGE: Call the at-large council race the Wild West. Incumbents Mildred Crump, Carlos Gonzalez and Mayor Luis Quintanna face competition for four at-large seats from 15 other candidates.

In addition to Gonzalez, Jeffries is backing Terrance Bankston, Wilfredo Caraballo and Lynda Lloyd. Caraballo, a former Democratic assemblyman, said he was interested in running to help Jeffries reduce crime and stabilize the city’s budget deficit.

Lloyd, a Newark public school teacher, said in addition to fighting crime and expanding employment opportunities, she hopes to pour more resources into mental health services, increasing healthy foods options in the city and monitoring environmental issues.

On the other side, Baraka is backing Crump, Newark Public Schools Athletic Director Patrick Council and union leader Eddie Osborne. Council, who is also the pastor of St. John Baptist Church, said he aims to empower neighborhood associations to address residents’ needs.

Though not on a ticket, other candidates carry their own weight, such as school board member Marques Aquil Lewis and former school board member Alturrick Kenney.

Come Tuesday, Newark voters will have their pick. "Eighteen people running for at-large is a lot of people, but I think it’s a good thing," Kenney said.

For a full list of the city council candidates click here.

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