Bell builds support in the Central Ward

NEWARK – Former Councilman Charles Bell is generating considerable support in the Central Ward as Newarkers continue to jockey for position in the event that former Councilwoman Dana Rone loses her appeals and does not return to the governing body.

"I did pick up the petitions and I had more than enough as of last night's gathering," Bell told "I am running, yes, but at the same time, I'm hoping Miss. Rone is successful in her appeals. That would solve my problems, but if she is not successful I am prepared."

In the community room of the New Hope Baptist Church on Tuesday night, Bell received the blessing of Central Ward Democratic Committee Chairman Dwight Brown.

"It was a gathering of some supporters who are supportive of me going back into the system to help stabilize it," said Bell, 65, a retired labor official with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers Union who served on the School Board for 27 years before serving on the City Council from 2002 to 2006. He is also a veteran of the Newark Housing Authority.

Bell can now claim the support of state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), former council people Bessie Walker, Raz Baraka and Gayle Cheneyfield-Jenkins, Brown, and numerous clergy people.

The support of Brown is significant. A member of Steve Adubato’s team at the North Ward Center, he was elected chairman of the Central Ward Democratic Committee earlier this summer.

"I think the ward will line up with the chairman," said Brown of his endorsement of the former councilman.

"Charlie Bell’s independent enough to represent the ward, and he will bring some needed experience to the council," Brown said."There was little institutional knowledge on the council, and I think he will serve as a stabilizing force."

Defeated by the Booker Team in 2006, Bell said of his conquerors, "I feel that the job has overwhelmed them. The magnitude of the job is too much. That's the basic problem."

On Thursday, Bell has a meeting scheduled with representatives of Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

"They called and asked for me so I’m going to sit and talk to him," said Bell. "I’m open. I just hope I can be of service to the city."

He also intends to meet with the Payne family by the end of the week.

Asked about tomorrow’s meeting, Booker political operative Jermaine James said he wants to be certain local battles do not overwhelm a critical political objective on Nov. 4th.

"We want to make sure we get Barack Obama elected," said James.

A native of North Carolina who married his high school sweetheart and came to Newark with the labor movement, Bell has gotten more buzz than other potential candidates because he has good political alliances and high name ID in the Central Ward. But sources say there are over 20 people who have expressed interest to the municipal clerk.

During his two years out of office, Bell said he has enjoyed his wife and family, and played some golf. Convincing his wife that he should pursue the Rone seat if her case goes against her was his toughest job, he said.

"With the help and guidance of my pastors, I was guided," said the prospective candidate. "This mission is not about Charles Bell. It's about the people of the City of Newark."

Bell builds support in the Central Ward