The backroom politicking in Newark right now revolves around At-Large Councilman Carlos Gonzalez, but sources are wondering out loud if the local conversation may boomerang up to the assembly.
Mayor Ras Baraka wants a solid fifth vote on the nine-member city council.
At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana is volatile – but so – in his own way – is South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James – son of former Mayor Sharpe James.
Quintana’s already been mayor and is unlikely to be mayor again.
James is a different story.
He’s got the U.S. Army background and his own family pedigree.
Most Newark insiders see him as a future candidate for mayor.
In anticipation of James and or Quintana going off the reservation, the mayor wants a firm fifth vote, hence Baraka’s decision to nominate Gonzalez for a judgeship.
His replacement would be Pat Council, the mayor’s choice to lead the South Ward Democratic Committee.
The North Ward has a choice, sources say.
It can either rally around Gonzalez and fight – or trade out the councilman in exchange for the mayor agreeing not to challenge the establishment’s standing assembly people in 2015: specifically Assemblywomen L. Grace Spencer and Eliana Pintor Marin.
Unsurprisingly, sources say Quintana and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos favor leaving the seat empty, with a special June election deciding a Gonzalez replacement.
Other council people are in the mix now, with arm-twisting ongoing: pro Council Baraka argument on one side and pro vacancy on the other.
Asked about the local back drama as its potential impact on county politics, Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones said, “I just want to see good government down there [in Newark]. As Newark goes, so goes the county.”