Monday, March 10, 2014

Newark mayors race: Who is Ras Baraka

With the Newark Mayoral election right around the corner ( May 13, 2014 ) I have decided to post information about both candidates Ras Baraka and Shavar Jefferies so that voters can get an idea of who they may be voting for. This information is taken from the web sites of both men. First up the prohibitive favorite, Ras Baraka. George Cook

Ras J. Baraka has served as South Ward Councilman since May 2010 and is running for Mayor in the 2014 election. A native of Newark where his family has lived for over 70 years, Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools and went on to receive a BA in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, DC and an MA in Education Supervision from St. Peters University in Jersey City, NJ. In addition to his many accomplishments as the South Ward Councilman, Baraka is credited with transforming Central High School where he has served as principal since 2007. Baraka’s love for teaching and education is matched only by his passion for political equality. An accomplished legislator and administrator, Baraka has tackled issues affecting the current and future quality of life for Newark residents, including employment, public health and safety, development, and civic engagement.
As South Ward Councilman Baraka’s many accomplishments include; legislation recognizing violence as a public health issue, the Homestead/Abandoned Properties ordinance and an ordinance requiring early closures for retail stores and restaurants to curb loitering. Additionally, under his leadership the South Ward police substation was re-opened, the Bergen Lyons Clinton Special Improvement District was created, Key Foods Supermarket opened in the South Ward providing jobs for Newark residents, and over 1.2 million dollars has been awarded to non-profit organizations. Baraka has also supported initiatives geared towards youth development such as South Ward READS and the South Ward Youth Development Center and he created the Senior Citizen’s Committee, a group of committed residents addressing issues for seniors.
A community organizer for over 20 years, he energetically ran his first campaign for mayor in 1994, at the age of 24, after returning home from Howard University. On September 27, 2002 He was appointed Deputy Mayor where he served until 2005, when Newark Municipal Council voted for Baraka to fulfill the unexpired term of the late Councilman Donald Tucker as South Ward Councilman. Baraka established Newark’s Committee on Violence, served as a key organizer for the Newark Ceasefire Peace Initiative in 2004, and is a founding member and served as chairman of the historic 1st National Hip Hop Political Convention.
Ras Baraka is the son of renowned poets Amina and Amiri Baraka and the loving father of three daughters. A published author, his latest work Black Girls Learn Love Hard is dedicated to the life of his late sister, Shani Baraka. 


Improving Quality of Life

Developed Legislation to Acknowledge and Address Violence as a Public Health Issue In February 2012, the Municipal Council unanimously voted to support a resolution sponsored by Councilman Baraka to acknowledge and address violence as a public health issue.  The landmark resolution highlights the public health significance of violence and suggests that the city of Newark pursue programs that identify risk factors, design interventions to address these factors and evaluate the effectiveness of programmatic efforts.
Developed Legislation to Address Complaints on Loitering - To address community concerns on noise and disturbance around retail stores, Councilman Baraka sponsored an ordinance that for restaurants and retail stores on designated streets to close at 10 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, and 11 p.m. on Fridayand Saturday.
Developed Legislation to Address Abandoned Properties and Blight – To address abandoned properties and blight in the South Ward, Councilman Baraka is in the process of developing legislation that will provide the legal framework for a Homestead Program. The program will allow for the city to deed over selected city of Newark properties that are in need of rehabilitation to qualified city residents who are willing to rehab and live in the home for a minimum of five years. This South Ward Pilot Program is underway and is anticipated to expand citywide.
Creation of South Ward General Assembly Meetings - Since July 2010, Councilman Baraka has hosted monthly community meetings called the South Ward General Assembly. These meetings have engaged district leaders, block associations and residents and have provided a direct line to city agencies to address quality of life issues in the South Ward.  The meetings have also spurred engagement between neighborhoods to share best practices and ideas on improving their communities.
Expanding Opportunities for Youth – Established the South Ward Youth Council
In an effort to expand opportunities for youth to collaborate and communicate on community issues, Councilman Baraka created the South Ward Youth Council (SWYC).  The SWYC provides students in grades 9-12 citywide with social activities in a safe and positive environment, while promoting individual self-esteem and leadership through participation in community meetings, events and community service projects.
Secured Funding for the Jackie Robinson Little League and South Ward POP Warner - When economic constraints threatened to eliminate the Jackie Robinson Little League and South Ward POP Warner, Councilman Baraka stepped in and secured thousands of dollars that would allow youth in the South Ward to continue to participate in both leagues.
Repaved Madison Avenue Playground – Keeping his commitment to improve recreational facilities children in the South Ward, Councilman Baraka secured funding for the repaving of the Madison Avenue School Playground.  Additional upgrades included new adjustable basketball hoops and a baseball diamond.
Established the Shani Baraka Skills and Drills Summer Camp - Established in memory of Shani Barka, the Shani Baraka Skills and Drill Summer Camp opened in the summer of 2012 to over 170 Newark children. This free camp taught boys and girls the fundamentals of basketball, while instilling the foundation for confidence and team work.  Guest Speakers were also invited to speak to campers about the dangers of domestic violence.
Partnered with Newark Public Schools to Launch the Ras Baraka Summer Youth Camp – In a partnership with Newark Public Schools, Councilman Barka launched the Ras Baraka Summer Youth camp in 2012 with over 75 South Ward youth.  The camp has provided free workshops in art, music, dance and cultural education.
Transformation of the former Clinton Place Firehouse into the newly renovated South Ward Youth Development Center
Established South Wards Reads Literacy Program

Empowering Senior Citizens

Established  Senior Committee - In 2010, Councilman Baraka established the South Ward Senior Committee as a vehicle to address issues concerning senior citizens. With the help of Former Councilwoman Bessie Walker, the Senior Committee has been involved in various activities which include Annual Senior Fitness Day and the Unsung Hero Awards.
Renovation of Nellie Grier Senior Center

Securing our Neighborhoods

Opened Bergen Street Mini-Precinct - After two years of  diligent work,  Councilman Baraka successfully opened the South Ward Police Substation in partnership with Newark Police Department.  The substation located at1049 Bergen Street is operational and provides additional officers seven days a week, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Secured Additional Patrols by Essex County Police - As a result of the efforts of Councilman Baraka and 5th District Police Captain Eugene Venable, and in partnership with the Essex County Sherriff’s Office, additional patrols by Essex County police vehicles have been added to the South Ward on Elizabeth Avenue, Lyons Avenue, Clinton Avenue and Chancellor Avenue.
Annual 24 hours of Peace Cultural Event – Councilman Baraka hosts this event along with local and nationally recognized talent to advocate for peace and gun control.  The event which is held on Clinton Ave, a notoriously dangerous section of the ward, aims at ensuring 24 hours of peace, fellowship, cultural enrichment and education.

Spurring Economic Development

South Ward Special Improvement District - The formation of a Special Improvement District that will encompass a large portion Clinton Avenue, Bergen Street and Lyons Avenue. That will include safety, cleanliness and a marketing campaign that will attract a variety of businesses along these corridors.
Key Foods Supermarket - Located at Springfield Ave & 10th Street. This is the first supermarket constructed in the south ward in decades.
Shopping Plaza at Elizabeth and Meeker Avenue - Councilman Baraka with the assistance of the Economic and Housing Development department worked closely for two years to attract new ownership for the property that had been severely damaged in a fire. The damaged property sat as an eyesore for several years.  The new site plans include a shopping plaza.
Bergen Street Development - The designated land will be redeveloped into 45 units of affordable housing with commercial space. The project is slated to commence in 2013. The Bergen Street Development LLC, is an African-American Company consisting of local developers.
Opening of Genesis Hope Building - Located at 634Clinton Avenue.
Renovation of 2 Osborne Terrace

Learn more about Ras Baraka at his campaign web site:

No comments: