A few readers of Our Story have maybe been perplexed my interest in the city of Newark over the past few weeks, and might think our local politics aren’t really interesting to anyone outside our physical borders. I think, though, that if you take a look at what’s happening here, that you might find yourself fascinated by the tale of a city about to experience a resurgence similar to Baltimore and New York. Newark is an underdog that, for decades, has languished in flagging attempts to recover from damage done by the 1967 riots. For the past forty years, the city has been trying to rebuild, heal the wounds of poverty and racism, and recover from its reputation as politically corrupt and a hotbed for crime.
Newark has been “turning a corner” since as far back as 1990 — bringing in new development, arts, and culture — but its growth over the past decade has come in fits and starts as the city continues to struggle with crime and poverty. For many, a change in administration has come to mean a new era for the development of the city.
In 1995, Stanford-educated Rhodes scholar Cory Booker saw the potential of this city, and a place where he could make a difference with his life. He moved into one of the most run-down neighborhoods to identify with the people living there and find out how best he can help turn it around. His social concern developed into a political interest, and, four years ago, he ran for mayor and narrowly lost in a brutal campaign against five-term incumbent Mayor Sharpe James.
But, after staying under the radar and continuing to develop grass-roots support in the city, Booker ran again in the 2006 mayoral race. This time, his 10-year commitment to the poor of this city, his idealism, and his new approach to governing seems to have struck a chord with Newarkers looking for the next phase in the city’s history. Last night, Booker won the mayoral election in a 72% landslide.
??New York Times?? reporter ??Damien Cave?? has summarized this story in an article entitled, “Cory Anthony Booker: On a Path That Could Have No Limits”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/nyregion/10man.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. Booker’s success could mean a real change for the city of Newark: safer streets, better education, and real growth for this city of 280,000 just five miles from Manhattan.
The “Everything Newark”:http://blog.newarker.info blog will continue to follow the story of the historic changes on which the city is about to embark. So, stick around — things are just about to get interesting. 🙂