Editorial By Monsignor William J. Linder
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was successful in his bid for re-election May 8, defeating Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins by receiving about 77 percent of the vote.
I congratulate Baraka on his victory and I’m glad it was a clear cut win. We must support Baraka going forward in his second term.
The mayor is very involved with the youth in our city and he has been for a good number of years. He was principal of Central High School from 2007 until 2013 when he decided to run for mayor the first time. He was responsible for many reforms there. The kids know him and they identify with him.
Baraka is a Newark native and a product of the Newark Public Schools. He was a teacher when the district was first placed under state control in 1995 after allegations of severe mismanagement. He ran for his first term in 2014 campaigning to take back local control of the public schools.
After getting elected to his first term, Baraka worked with then Gov. Chris Christie on the city’s education system. In June of 2015, Baraka and Christie jointly announced that the Newark public school system would transition back to city residents’ control through the creation of the Newark Educational Success Board, which was tasked with setting benchmarks and developing a clear pathway to return of local authority.
The Newark School Board regained full local control of the school district Feb. 1 of this year, more than two decades after the state first took over. Now city residents can feel like they have a voice in the education of their children.
Baraka also expanded the city’s youth employment program after taking office. Last year, more than 2,700 young people participated in the program that sends youth to job sites throughout Newark for about a month during the summer. That’s compared to 1,000 who were involved in 2014.
Exposing young people to jobs and responsibilities early is a good thing. It keeps them busy and gets them thinking about their future. It also helps them learn about money management in a practical way.
Mayor Baraka is a positive influence on the young people in Newark. The youth of our city need that.