Just a few hours after being elected as the new mayor of the city of Newark, Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the idea of winning the election has not sunk in yet.
“At first it didn’t because I’m getting all these press inquires, I think I am the mayor or something,” said Baraka.
After the results of the election were in and after being named the winner, Baraka said that the first thought he had was about his parents and how they had a part in his campaign. Baraka said that he recalled the time his father was passing out flyers by Beth Isreal Hospital before his death and how his mother wanted to see him win the election.
One of the issues Baraka is set to face is the budget deficit. With Newark estimated to have a deficit of $93 billion, Baraka said that city officials have to sit down and talk to state officials and begin working on both short- and long-term strategies. In order to solve the issue, Baraka said that the city has to find a way to get additional revenue.
“Ultimately the structural deficit is not going away and we have to grow revenue in the city, we have to find revenue and we have to grow the city,” Baraka said.
While the state could take control of the city, Baraka said that he does not believe that state officials are interested in taking over because they have their own issues to deal with.
Baraka said that he has not spoken to Gov. Chris Christie since his victory, but he plans to work with the governor and any other official for the betterment of Newark.
During the mayoral election, some officials did not support Baraka in the race. Although he has not spoken to many since election night, Baraka said that he is going to sit down with as many people as he can to move the city forward, including Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
Now as the mayor-elect, Baraka also plans to work on school reform within Newark. He said that his position surrounding schools has not changed and that he plans to deal with the One Newark plan that Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson introduced.
“I think that is a problem that we have to deal with immediately,” Baraka said. “The superintendent did reach out to me. She left a message on my cell phone. I do intend to call her back and sit down and talk specifically about things like that. The One Newark strategy, that I think is not going to work in our city. And parents and leaders in this community just frankly were not engaged enough around it, so we’re going to have to talk about that.”