Darrin Sharif

Baraka on Newark campaign bus burning: "I don't know who did it"

Baraka on Newark campaign bus burning: "I don't know who did it"

NEWARK - Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka reacted to an apparent attempt on Sunday to set his red-white-and-blue campaign bus on fire.

"I don't know who did it, or why," said Baraka, the South Ward councilman. "It's silly - it's not going to stop us from doing anything. All it's going to stop us is from is being on the bus."

According to a Newark Fire Department spokesperson, the city fire department responded to a 7:01 a.m. phone call on Sunday about a "small fire" at 421 Central Avenue, next to Baraka's Central Ward campaign headquarters. The fire was found centered on a seat inside the Baraka campaign bus.

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Baraka campaign bus torched in Newark

Baraka campaign bus torched in Newark

NEWARK - Days after the Newark mayoral race became a two-man campaign, one candidate's preferred mode of transportation was set on fire next to his Central Ward campaign headquarters.

According to a press release from the campaign of South Ward Councilman and Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka, the red-white-and-blue Baraka campaign bus was torched early Sunday morning.

"The popular campaign bus that prominently featured Ras J. Baraka's image and campaign slogan "Believe in Newark" was vandalized and set on fire early Sunday morning," the prepared statement read.

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Newark mayoral race becoming proxy potential gubernatorial contest

Newark mayoral race becoming proxy potential gubernatorial contest

NEWARK - The last few days of the shifting Newark mayoral race could leave a casual observer to wonder if they are standing on Newark's Broad Street or Trenton's State Street.

While events have conspired to whittle the race down to two candidates, several notable New Jersey politicians and power brokers who have either been governor, run for governor, want to be governor or who help to install governors have swarmed to the Newark race. The atmosphere could resemble a Cold War geopolitical chess game to some, with the fate of the state's largest city at stake.

On Wednesday, both North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif dropped out of the race, with South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries left to battle for Newark's top political spot.

But shortly before these developments, the Newark landscape was being shaped by those who like to dig in the Garden State's political dirt.

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Sharif says he will vote no tomorrow on MUA

Sharif says he will vote no tomorrow on MUA

The victor this year in a Central Ward war of attrition, Councilman Darrin Sharif says he still cannot support the municipal utilities authority (MUA) championed by Mayor Cory Booker.

"It's a sad thing," Sharif told PolitickerNJ.com. "I'm not going to vote for it. I wanted to let the hearings run their course. I have, and I'm not going to vote for it."

Like fellow no vote Council President Donald Payne, Sharif said he does not believe Booker has the requisite votes on the nine-person council to pass the MUA, which would generate money to plug a $70 million budget hole and avoid what the mayor estimates would be a 37% tax increase.

A former chief-of-staff of Booker's and son of onetime inner circle mayoral ally Carl Sharif, Sharif ran an aggressive campaign against foe turned mayoral ally Charles Bell in May - forcing a June run-off that Sharif narrowly won. 

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Central Ward residents blast Booker's water lease plan

Central Ward residents blast Booker's water lease plan
State Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Newark) addresses, from left, Mayor Cory Booker, Council President Donald Payne, Jr., and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif.

NEWARK - Bedlam ensued by slow degrees tonight at Bethany Baptist Church as Mayor Cory Booker outlined a plan to lease the city's water infrastructure and met the scorn of an entrenched opposition.

"We believe our MUA (municipal utilities authority) and other austerity measures will help us get through this time," argued the mayor, hours after a mostly skeptical city council again voted to defer the matter.

The second of Booker's five ward whistle tour to discuss his MUA, designed to plug a $70 million budget hole this year and take chops at the budget in the years ahead, this Central Ward venue featured the front-of-the-room presence of new Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif.

Sharif had observed last night's West Ward fiasco and vowed to rule his hearing with a stronger hand. The Rev. Bill Howard tried to help early when he reminded residents packed into the basement gym, "Glad to have you in the church."

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Delay today, but Quintana says he has no intention of voting for mayor's MUA

Delay today, but Quintana says he has no intention of voting for mayor's MUA
Newark At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana

Political trouble in Brick City gurgled up to the surface this afternoon for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, as a new blood city council signaled they don't intend to back his policies without a fight.

Or maybe not at all.

"If my boiler breaks down, I don't give my house to the bank; you can get a loan to avoid selling it," said At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, reflecting on the mayor's desire to put control of the city's water supply in the hands of a muncipal utilities authority (MUA). 

The move would enable the city to avert what Booker says is a 37 percent tax hike to plug Newark's $180 million city deficit.

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Unofficial results in Newark's Central Ward: Sharif beats Bell by 25 votes

Unofficial results in Newark's Central Ward: Sharif beats Bell by 25 votes

Darrin Sharif, son of veteran political operative Carl Sharif, tonight defeated incumbent Central Ward Councilman Charles Bell by 25 votes. 

Unofficial machine totals with 32 of 32 Central Ward districts reporting show Sharif with 2,328 and Bell with 2,308 votes.

The challenger grew his lead by five votes after a tally of absentee ballots, according to the Essex County Clerk.

Bell's defeat tonight occured despite his having the backing of the Central Ward Democratic Committee, the North Ward Democratic Organization and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos and, most significantly, Mayor Cory Booker.

Insiders knew it would be a long night when absentee ballots showed Sharif with a small edge - 46-41. The drama of a close contest intensified with Sharif up and 31 of the ward's 32 districts reporting when a voter in District 29 voted, then went back into the booth to vote again, prompting Sheriff's officers to case the scene.

Essex Clerk Chris Durkin said 59 provisional ballots are outstanding, a mass of votes likley divided between both men.

For the moment, Sharif stands supreme in the Central Ward.

Booker's chief of staff from 1998 to 2000, the 48-year old director of operations for the Urban League of Essex County, and his father, startegist Carl Sharif - disagreed with Booker's decision to back Sharpe James era relic Bell instead of selecting a Central Ward candidate from within his inner circle.

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Election Day in Trenton and Newark

Election Day in Trenton and Newark
Newark Central Ward challenger Darrin Sharif

Settling urban contests where the top two vote-getters failed to get 50% plus one in May 11th non-partisan elections, Newark and Trenton will hold runoff elections today.

In Trenton, former Mercer County Freeholder Tony Mack is the favorite against At-Large Councilman Manuel Segura.

Mack was the first place finisher on May 11th with 2,357 votes. Segura received 1,862 votes. Since then, Mack amassed the endorsements of retiring Mayor Doug Palmer, third place finisher Eric Jackson, and many others.

Both candidates oppose the sale of portions of the city's waterworks, a proposed $80 million revenue generator championed by Palmer, which is also on today's ballot. 

The Newark election pits Central Ward Councilman Charles Bell against challenger Darrin Sharif.

Last month, Bell received 2,974 votes to Sharif's 1,577 in a seven-person race.

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Hypothetically, what if Booker passed up second term and took a job in Washington?

Rumors that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is interested in joining the Obama administration – possibly to replace Adolfo Carrión Jr., as the White House Office of Urban Affairs – prompts an explanation of the process to fill a vacancy should the unconfirmed speculation turn out to be accurate.  If Booker were to leave office before September 13, there would be a special election in November 2010 to fill the remaining 44 months of his term.  If he were to leave after that date, a May 2011 special election would be held.  The City Council President would become the Mayor until the results of a special election are certified. 

The prospect that Booker might decline to serve his second term – the one he just spent nearly $8 million to win last Tuesday with 59% of the vote – could create some last minute maneuvering in the race for City Council President.  Right now the job belongs to Mildred Crump, but Donald Payne, Jr., re-elected last week as a Councilman-At-Large and also an Essex County Freeholder (as well as the son of a U.S. Congressman) is considered a leading candidate to get the job when the Council reorganizes on May 1.  The Central Ward council seat is still undecided: incumbent Charles Bell and newcomer Darrin Sharif (the son of Booker’s mentor) will face off in a June runoff.  None of the nine City Councilmembers would have to give up their seats to run in a hypothetical special election for mayor.

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Quintana's name appears on signs with Sharif's in Latino-dominant region of Central Ward

Quintana's name appears on signs with Sharif's in Latino-dominant region of Central Ward
At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana (right) and Central Ward Councilman Charles Bell, before the election.

NEWARK - A swashbuckling political survivor for two decades up here in the North Ward who has jumped from one team to the next in the name of independence, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana knows some alliances matter at least long enough to get a win.

A member of the Booker Team, the Quintana brand is not exclusive to Booker's candidates.

"I'm independent," said Quintana, the highest vote-getter among at-large candidates in 2006.

A case in point is the northern portion of the Central Ward, where roughly 30 districts are the provenance of the North Ward Democratic Organization, which Quintana challenged in 2007 with his quixotic run against state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark).

Some of Ruiz's allies still sting from Quintana's rebellion that year and don't appreciate being in a position of having to sell him along with the rest of the Booker Team, which includes Central Ward Councilman Charles Bell.

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The Back Room

National progressive group backs Watson Coleman in CD12

The Progressive Democrats of America Co-Founder and National Director Tim Carpenter and State Chair Mary Ellen Marino today endorsed Bonnie Watson Coleman for the Democratic nomination in the 12thCongressional District.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 24, 2014

Organization to honor Gov. KeanAn event next month for Community Options, Inc. will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the organization's founding and honor Governor Tom Kean, Sr., a was an advocate over 25 years ago for bringing individuals with developmental disabilities out of state institutions into small group homes.Robert...


How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >


(4-23-14) Bridgegate Witnesses Not "RATS" if Testimony is Forced -Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision last week was covered in most newspapers and blogs as an affirmation of the... more »
(Absecon Island, NJ) --With his shocking win in last year's election, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian emerged as one of the most intriguing figures in the New Jersey political... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is the only Tea Party group that endorsed Mitt Romney. These guys are the Vichy French of the Tea Party movement. They're the guys who say 'Viva la France,' and then you can't find them when the fighting starts. Come on." - GOP strategist Rick Shaftan, on the Independence Hall Tea Party group.

- PolitickerNJ.com


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