Newark Mayor Cory Booker is Back But With Baggage - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

The Honorable Julien X. Neals (far right) swears Cory Booker in for his second term as Mayor of the city of Newark. (Source:

As far as inauguration’s go, Cory Booker‘s second term installation as mayor of Newark was quite nice. But “nice” is a disappointment compared to the reception his supporters gave him four years ago when people were turned away from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center because it was packed to the gills; and when all of the nine city council people installed that day were favored by him. Since then he has become somewhat of a celebrity. In fact, Booker’s good friend and talk show host Gail King sat on stage at the inauguration with Booker’s family, and @CoryBooker has almost 1.1 million twitter followers.

His inauguration this year was solemn and respectable. But compared to the cheers and hallelujah’s that erupted from the folks who backed Ras Baraka and Darrin Sharif, two newly instated city council members who challenge Booker on several major issues, its evident that some things are changing in Newark.

That’s not to say that Booker isn’t still popular in Newark. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have won the election with 59% of the vote. Locally, he has accomplished some of his campaign promises, including a reduced crime record–New Jersey, leads the nation in reducing gun violence with a 46% decrease in shootings over the last three years–and increased business development.

“We’re doing everything from making more loans available, partnering with business incubators, creating bonding support …” said Booker after the inauguration. “There are a lot of things that we are doing to support local businesses.”

For example, the Black Wall Street project broke ground in Newark’s West Ward back in December 2008. The project, led by the black-owned Mid-Atlantic Alliance, developed affordable and eco-friendly housing. The mayor blogged that it was a triple win involving “local minority developers creating wealth, construction jobs … and affordable homeownership … for more residents.”

But this year, Booker has a lot to contend with, including a $180 million budget deficit. The city budget he proposed for 2010 last week calls to lay off 651 employees, including many of the 300 policemen he hired to reduce crime. Plus he wants to create a municipal utilities authority that will offset the deficit by $50 million but allow a private entity to control Newark’s watershed, an option that has his critics steaming.

“I really disagree with selling the resources of the people. We need to sustain working people’s lives, their jobs, and not depend on corporatism,” said Baraka, newly installed south ward councilman who defeated a Booker ally.

If the city does start to outsource services, it seems there might be plenty of opportunity for the city to increase contracts to black-owned businesses. Booker has taken symbolic measures in the past to show his concern for the working class and the poor in Newark–even going so far as to live in a housing project to draw awareness to the plight of the poor. Making sure that black-owned businesses get fair access to contracts with the city is one way to start making his symbolism real.

For more information on Cory Booker: Power Player: Cory Booker

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.