On Sunday night, Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries posed a question to the Facebook universe.
“38 murders in the South Ward this year and now you want a promotion? Really?” tweeted Jeffries, a South Ward resident and former state Assistant Attorney General, in a targeted attack on South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.
The Tweet went to the candidate’s Facebook page and the following is Baraka’s lengthy reply:
“One of the candidates wrote on his page that there were 38 murders in the South Ward and I want a promotion. Really? Well actually it’s only a promotion in title and authority for me. When we become Mayor- I am the only candidate that will take a considerable pay cut. This is a sacrifice for me and my family. But to the point, I was an elementary school teacher for about 10 years and I helped hundreds of students to love literature and embrace math, but there were many more that I couldn’t help because of lack of resources and lack of support. I became an administrator with the purpose of delivering more resources and solid support to the classrooms so teachers like me could affect more students. We are doing the same in the ward. We know that there is a concentration of poverty in the West and South Wards. There is an extreme segregation of resources. The unemployment, foreclosure and poverty rates that exist in those wards are just a macro of parts of the East, North, and Central [Wards] where small pockets of the same exist as well. It is time to organize our community around the abundance of resources that we have and deliver jobs, economic growth, and support for struggling families to the most troubled areas of our city. This is the job of the Mayor. It is not enough to point out the troubles in our city we have to actually have a plan for growth. Not only do we want and deserve the promotion as you call it but we want to take everyone with us! But since we mentioned shootings. In 2006 there were 104 shootings in Newark, in 2007- 107…2009 – 81 and 2010 – 92. There were more murders in our city in the years that one of my opponents sat as the Assistant AG in the state than there are presently. So if I sat in the AG’s office and helped to develop a plan to reduce crime in the state why didn’t my plan have any real affect in my city and more importantly my ward? As he watched us protest in the streets for at least 5 or more years what was he doing? Yes I know developing a plan to reduce crime – a plan that must’ve worked everywhere but Newark. It’s just troubling to think that if I had all of those resources and all of that background in law enforcement why wouldn’t I send more police, more resources, more programs, to the neighborhood where my wife sleeps and my children come to play. I know, I know – because it’s really the job of the Mayor of the city. Let’s stop playing games and find ways to end systemic black on black crime that exists in all of our cities not just between our youth but us as well…some of my opponents are running for Mayor, some are just running against me..but I’m running for the people of Newark!”