Newark mayor's race: Baraka awash in labor union endorsements

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 04, 2014

Milly Silva, executive vice presdeint of 1199SEIU endorses Ras Baraka for mayor of Newark


NEWARK — As principal of Central High School, Ras Baraka was technically in management. But in his run to be the next mayor of Newark, the South Ward Councilman is decidedly a union man.

Baraka declared himself the progressive candidate early in his campaign against former assistant state Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, and at least 11 labor groups have lined up to bolster that claim.

Today, Milly Silva, former candidate for lieutenant governor and the executive vice president of 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers, joined the chorus of labor leaders to back Baraka in the May 13 election.

“He has spoken out in support of 1199 members when they needed it the most,” Silva told supporters gathered at Baraka’s East Ward headquarters. “We are confident that as mayor, Ras Baraka will move Newark forward to a brighter future.”

Baraka, who is on leave from his job at Central High, did not mention Jeffries by name but addressed an attack the Jeffries campaign has been leveling at him since the start of the race.

“Last night, we had some desperate people who got up and said Ras Baraka is a divider,” Baraka said referring to a candidate forum at Essex County College. This is not a room of division ... Newark will be together and working people’s lives will be transformed in this city."

Baraka has also picked up nods from SEIU Local 617, SEIU Local 32BJ, the Communications Workers of America and the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.

As South Ward councilman, as a principal and as a community activist, Baraka has long spoken out in support of low-wage workers and railed against city layoffs in 2010.

“You can’t say you’re for kids and then lay off their mothers and fathers,” he said.

Now, the unions that represent those workers are lining up back his run for mayor.
“There’s clearly a momentum factor here,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. She said union support translates into donations and boots on the ground to move votes on election day.

The support Baraka has received also indicates the unions see him as the favorite, she said.

“The unions are attempting to guess which individual is most likely to win,” Harrison said. “For Baraka that’s very good news.”

Jeffries has some political firepower behind him as well, including four out of five Democratic ward chairs, three sitting councilmen and William Payne — patriarch of one of Newark’s best known political dynasties.

“I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about the support that Councilman Baraka has,” Jeffries said. “We have support in every ward of this city. We have support in every sector of this city.”

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment