By David Cruz
Mayor-elect Ras Baraka may tell Newarkers that they are all the mayor, but some of them are actually council members and those councilmembers will need to be on the same page with the new mayor if his ambitious agenda is to move forward. Securing two victories in last night’s council runoff gave Baraka allies a five to four majority on the council.
“It was very important that we got the two victories yesterday because now we have the predominate vote on the council. We need five votes in order to move the city forward, and it was just important because morale purposes because the mayor, we just won an election on May 13, and it was a mandate,” said Baraka campaign manager Amiri Baraka Jr.
Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins easily won her runoff election last night and returns to the city council after an eight year absence, a solid Baraka supporter.
“A mayor and a council have to work together; they don’t always have to agree but they have to have open lines of communications in order to make things happen. We don’t wanna have gridlock happen like it is in Washington,” said Chaneyfield Jenkins.
One winner who was not on the ballot was incumbent councilwoman Mildred Crump, who won her election in May. She’s expected to be re-elected president when the council reorganizes on July 1. As such, she will set council agendas and often whip votes for the mayor she helped elect.
When comparing the previous mayor to the new mayor on being hands on, Crump said,”Yes he is, but in a different kind of way. There’s a way to be hands on when your territorial but there’s also another way to be hands on when it’s cooperative. So, I’m looking forward to the new way of being part of a hands on government.”
A united front will be necessary going forward as the city tries to avoid a state takeover of its finances and struggles for more control of its schools. Although they met a few weeks ago, Baraka was not at an event in the city today where Gov. Chris Christie was in attendance.
On his meeting with Baraka, Christie said, “I’ve said everything I wanna say about that.”
In a city with so many urgent matters to address, Mayor-elect Baraka will need all the help he can get. Yesterday’s victories were an important first step. But relations between Newark mayors and their council counterparts are notorious for starting strong and ending badly. The mayor elect will need to get things done quickly while he has the council.