By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
In the fight for control of Newark City Hall, Councilman Ras Baraka has been considered the frontrunner all year. But today it was his opponent Shavar Jeffries, a former assistant attorney general, who made the most noise.
Jeffries attended a Mother’s Day luncheon put on for him by his powerful allies in Newark’s North Ward.
“We’re gonna be ready to go on election day, and I predict Jeffries will be the next mayor of the city of Newark,” said Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
“We need your support, need to bring every last friend, family and neighbor to the polls tomorrow and then we’re gonna have a party all night tomorrow night and we’re going to wake up Wednesday and get to work together,” Jeffries said.
Baraka has scheduled a walking tour of Newark for late today and this evening.
He did a round of media interviews outside City Hall this morning.
“We’re very confident. We’ve been doing work in the community for 20 years and no slander or lies or commercials or mail is gonna make people disbelieve what they’ve known for 20 years. And we’re gonna work hard on election day to get out the vote and make sure the people come out to vote,” Baraka said.
The Newark Star-Ledger endorsed Jeffries over the weekend. Baraka said that was to be expected.
Independent expenditure groups — or IE’s — have spent heavily for both men. A pro-Baraka ad links Jeffries to Wall Street hedge funds.
“Chris Christie’s allies and the Wall Street hedge fund types have an agenda,” says the ad.
“It’s obvious to me the hedge fund guys are putting money in his IE. What does that mean? Why are they interested in his candidacy?” Baraka asked.
“When we win tomorrow, it’s gonna be because of the people of Newark. There’s no hedge fund or Wall Street person going into that booth tomorrow,” Jeffries said.
Meanwhile, in the city of Paterson there are eight candidates for mayor tomorrow. City Council President Andre Sayegh has the party establishment backing. Former Mayor Joey Torres is attempting a comeback. And incumbent Mayor Jeff Jones is asking voters to reelect him.
And in the city of Trenton, where government has mainly stood still as Mayor Tony Mack tried and failed to withstand corruption charges, there is a field of six mayoral candidates tomorrow, led by Mack’s DPW Director Eric Jackson, former Public Safety Director Jim Golden, and Deputy Mercer County Clerk Walker Worthy, Jr.
Trenton, Paterson and Newark all have big problems — crime, budget deficits, poverty, troubled schools — but the competition for these mayors’ seats is fierce nonetheless, and just maybe a new leader can make a difference.