PolitickerNJ secured an advance tape of a new television special called “Newark at a Crossroads,” which features mayoral candidates Ras Baraka and Shavar Jeffries. Until the campaign Baraka served concurrently as principal of Central High School and South Ward Councilman. Jeffries is a former state Assistant Attorney General and past President of Newark Public Advisory Board. One hot-button for both is how to strategically integrate the traditional public school system with the growing network of independent charter schools.
Baraka would impose a moratorium on all “public schools initiatives,” including efforts to expand school choice. Jeffries is considered far more progressive on education matters — he’s a school chocie advocate – and is openly critical of Superintendent Cami Anderson’s abrupt, damn-the-stakeholders approach.
Baraka has secured far more union endorsements than Jeffries (including Newark Teachers Union, a branch of UFT, and NJEA, which represents Newark school nurses), and is also backed by one of the prominent names in Newark politics, convicted criminal Sharpe James. Jeffries has secured the endorsement of the Payne family (William Payne and his son, the current 10th District Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.).
Consider that first family feud – the James’ and the Paynes –just the first circle of an endless series of political convolutions in Newark that have little to do with schoolchildren and lots to do with adult ambitions far beyond the mayoral race.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the TV special:
“Well, he doesn’t have any experience,” Baraka, Newark’s South Ward councilman, said. “I mean, even [now Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey] Cory Booker when he came to Newark, New Jersey became a councilman first.”
Jeffries, a former state Assistant Attorney General, countered with a rhetorical right cross for Baraka.
“He has no record of performance. In fact, it’s a failed record,” Jeffries said. “As councilman for the South Ward, murders have gone up 70 percent. There is no development in the South Ward. Foreclosures are up. Unemployment is up.”