Newark's Living Mayors: Cory Booker

Jan 31, 2017

Programming Note: Cory Booker will join us this Friday, February 3rd at 8pm as Newark Today Presents "The Four Living Mayors". He will be joined by fellow former mayors Ken Gibson, Sharpe James and current mayor Ras Baraka for what will be a historic night.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker at City Hall
Credit Newark Public Library

Cory Booker was elected as Newark’s mayor in 2006. Booker, a one-time all Pac-10 football tight end at Stanford University, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship from the University of Oxford before earning his J.D. from Yale Law School.  His career in politics started almost immediately after his time at Yale, winning a seat on Newark’s city council.  He lost a heated contest for mayor against Sharpe James in 2002,  but when James decided not to run again, the people came out in numbers to support Cory Booker.

“We don’t want this to be a faction taking over city hall.  We want this to be the community reclaiming city hall for itself and for the values that are most central to Newarkers.  We’re trying to create, and I said this in my staff meeting this morning, a mission driven campaign, a value driven campaign.  This campaign really is about the most core issues of quality of life in Newark,” Booker told WBGO before his election in 2006.

During his tenure, Booker doubled the production of affordable housing in Newark and city population rose.  Crime numbers even dipped slightly by 2013, a priority of his administration back when he was mayor-elect.

“Public Safety, public safety, public safety,” exclaimed Booker in a 2006 interview at WBGO.  “And we have to look at it in a comprehensive fashion.  So it does involve policing, getting many more cops onto the street.  Making sure that they are responding to the urgencies of residence needs, but also about reforming how we’re providing for our children in the first place.  With more recreational programs and more comprehensive services for our kids and help for our kids.”

Booker became a mythic figure to some during his time in Newark.  He made national headlines when he rushed into a burning building to save a woman.

“I’m a neighbor who did what most neighbors would do, which is to jump into action and help a friend,” Booker said in a 2012 press conference.

At one time, mayors Booker and James had a very public rivalry.
Credit NJ Advance Media/The Star-Ledger / Courtesy of Newark Public Library

After seven years as city mayor, Booker would win a United States senate seat replacing the late Frank Lautenberg.

“They all said to me, if we put you in Washington, don’t go down there to score victories for a party or for politics, but go down there to work for people,”  Booker said in his 2013 victory speech at NJPAC.

As a US Senator, Booker has emerged as one of the most promising young politicians in Washington.  But when the senate is out of session or there’s something going down in Newark, Cory Booker always makes time to return to his favorite city.