Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ras Baraka is Elected Mayor of Newark

The New York Times reports that:
Councilman Ras Baraka, the fiery scion of a militant poet, was elected mayor of Newark on Tuesday, signaling a likely shift in the direction that New Jersey’s largest city had embarked upon for most of the last decade.

Mr. Baraka rebuffed a spirited late surge from a political newcomer, Shavar Jeffries, a law professor with an improbable Horatio Alger-like life story, in a bitter contest marred by incendiary rhetoric, arrests and charges of vandalism. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Baraka was leading with about 54 percent of the vote, compared with 46 percent for Mr. Jeffries, according to unofficial results.

“We are the mayor!” Mr. Baraka shouted at his victory party, as a six-piece funk band played an original song with the refrain, “Who did we vote for? Raaaaas Baraka.” Mr. Baraka added, “The people of Newark are not for sale.”

The race between the two Democrats was expected to be Newark’s most expensive election ever. Mr. Jeffries enjoyed a sizable financial advantage thanks to outside groups, while Mr. Baraka relied on his family’s name and fervent union support, and he tapped into misgivings about the previous mayor.

That mayor, of course, was Cory A. Booker, who won the first of two terms in 2006 as a fresh reformer. Yet while Mr. Booker unquestionably raised the profile of his adopted city, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars, he never could erase lingering suspicions among some of Newark’s power brokers that he was an outsider.

Mr. Booker left office last year after winning election to the United States Senate. When an interim mayor, Luis A. Quintana, indicated that he was not running for office, the dynamics were set for what some viewed as a referendum on Mr. Booker, as well as a watershed moment for the future.

“Baraka’s win suggests that the Booker years didn’t vanquish the old guard,” said Andra Gillespie, a professor at Emory University and author of “The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America.”
When the masses are united and organized, we can and will prevail over the power elite. Baraka's election is a reminder that the progressives can fight the power and seize power. Elections matter, people. Congratulations, Mayor Elect Ras Baraka!

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