Names like Payne, Rice, James, and Baraka will all appear on council ballots this May, carrying a long, and sometimes pained, history of political battles. Of the 40 candidates who have filed for council races so far, 11 have strong family connections to Newark politics, and of those, seven are incumbents or considered viable by political observers.
“The famous line from Tip O’Neill is that all politics are local,” said Carl Sharif, a political advisor on decades of Newark political campaigns and former campaign manager to Mayor Cory Booker. “In Newark, all politics are personal. All politics are family.”
But in Newark, where homegrown credentials are a practical pre-requisite for office, familial ties are no guarantee of a political alliance.
Newark is at an intersection of small-town politics and big-city opportunities: politicians who embed themselves into the political system have substantial resources to wield and few challengers to unseat them — Sharpe being the obvious example.
If we want to build sustainability that outlives our current leadership, we need to become intentional and focused on developing the leaders of tomorrow.