Councilman Ras Baraka, the son of the late iconic writer Amiri Baraka, was elected mayor of Newark on Tuesday night.
The 45-year-old former principal at Central High School beat out Shavar Jeffries, a law professor at Seton Hall and political newcomer. Baraka reportedly lead with about 54 percent of the vote, while Jeffries received 46 percent. Both men are Democrats and Newark natives.
“The people of Newark are not for sale,” Baraka said at his victory party, likely referring to Jeffries’ power broker-bolstered campaigning. The total spending in the nonpartisan race exceeded $3.5 million.
Baraka had banked heavily on the steadfast backing of unions and the his family’s widespread supporters.
The defeated opponent conceded at his own election-night party, commending Baraka’s “deep and abiding love” for their hometown.
“The time for fighting is over,” said Jeffries.
To many, Baraka’s win signals a political major shift for New Jersey’s largest city. He became the first elected mayor since Sen. Cory Booker, who left office last year after winning a special election to the United States Senate.
"As a Newark resident and United States senator, I look forward to fully supporting him as he steps up to lead Newark, deal with our city's challenges and continue to move our city into a brighter and better future,” said Booker in a statement.
Despite Sen. Booker’s raising the profile of the city and bringing in millions of dollars, the new mayor will face a mountain of problems, including a $93 million budget deficit and a broken public school system.
"I want to thank a lot of the voters who came out and voted for me,” Baraka told NJ.com. "I think they showed tremendous faith and belief in me. It just makes me feel like I have a lot more to do."
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(Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)