Booker said Wednesday his work with the city is not complete. “I am not leaving here at all,” the 39-year-old mayor said. “I’ve been hearing rumors all over the place. I will remain in the city of Newark for this first term. I made a commitment to the city of Newark.”
Booker also said he plans to run for re-election in 2010.
“If Barack Obama said to me, he’s having problems with his vice president-elect or a cabinet position, I would do anything I can to help, but I believe where I am best is Newark, New Jersey,” said Booker.
Mark Alexander, a top policy adviser to Obama during the campaign, said he has no information on whether Booker has been talking to Obama’s campaign about a job in Washington.
“Cory was a great supporter from an early point in the campaign,” Alexander said. “Obviously he’s a great mayor and he’s a great leader for our country and I hope he does something to help out. How that comes out is his decision.”
Speaking with some fellow Newarkers last night, I was asked if Booker would be sticking around. His lack of success in the recent local elections in the city seemed to spell a troubling trend that the mayor is disengaging from city business.
I don’t think he would leave (The Wire-savvy readers might call that “pulling a Carcetti”). Booker has not only staked his reputation on the city’s ability to lead the nation in substantial improvement, but he’s brought in a number of key players that might get burned if the mayor were suddenly to back out of his commitment.
Cory Booker is a politician that still suffers from the ailments of optimisim and sincerity. He’s too deeply invested in the people here to suddenly walk away. While he might well be offered some tempting opportunities to take a position in the Obama administration and define urban policy, it strikes me that he wants to see the policies he’s set forth in Newark bear fruit before he takes on a more wide-ranging position.
The mayor is a talented and intelligent policymaker and still very young in his political career. Completing his first and even serving a second term in office will let him follow through on the city’s resurgence and only add to his credentials as an effective leader. No one else in the nation could claim to be the catalyst of change to turn around what many consider the worst city in America to one of its most vibrant and exciting assets.
If Booker succeeds in driving change in Newark, his future prospects will be truly limitless.