Newark Mayoral Candidate Cory Booker Gains Ground With Key Endorsements

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Cory Booker, the Newark mayoral candidate, gains ground in the mayoral race by picking up several key endorsements from the state’s most powerful labor unions.

Former city councilman Cory Booker picked up several key endorsements in the first few weeks of Newark’s mayoral race, including garnering the support of three of the state’s most powerful labor unions.

Booker, 36, picked up an endorsement from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 617, whose 3,500 members supported Mayor Sharpe James in the past. Union officials say they are now backing Cory Booker’s campaign because they are ready for drastic change and believe Booker will bring it to the city.

“The members of Local 617 have decided it is time to move the city forward and to make a change. After

meeting with Cory Booker and listening to his vision for the city, we believe he is the one to make that change happen,” says Rahaman Muhammad, president of SEIU Local 617.

Last month the city got a possible hint that labor unions could be switching teams in this 2006 mayoral race, when another of the state’s most powerful unions, NJ Laborers Union Local 1153, also endorsed Booker for mayor.

The 25,000-member statewide union was the first union in the election to publicly announce its support for Cory Booker. Local 1153, which has 1,100 members in Newark, said it believes that the community activist is the best person to revive the city and create opportunities for working families.

Laborers Local 1153 Business Agent Eddie Osborne says “I have lived in Newark all my life and Cory Booker has changed my belief of what this city can become. He has reached out to my neighbors and me and has convinced us that this city needs not just change, but the right type of change.” Osborne went on to say at the NJ Laborers rally on February 22 that “Cory Booker will bring an energy and credibility to the office of the mayor that Newark hasn’t seen in many years. Our members are ready to work to elect Cory Booker as our next mayor.”

Meanwhile, The Newark Fire Officers Union Local 1860 on Feb. 28 voted 66-4 to endorse Booker. The union, which has endorsed James in the five previous mayoral elections, said the Local 1860 based its decision to change on the candidate’s record in city government.

“We believe in Cory Booker and we believe he is sincere in his mission to improve Newark and the quality of life for residents in the city of Newark,” said John Sandella, president of Local 1860.

But perhaps the biggest clue that Booker, who lost the 2002 mayoral race to James by 3,500 votes, may be gaining ground came this week when Booker gained endorsement from the Bronze Shields. The organization is comprised of 300 black members of the Newark Police Department.

Bronze Shields member and past president Anthony Kerr said the group’s call for a change in city leadership was born in part by a growing community insensitivity and low morale of members in the police department.

"In the 2002 election we endorsed Mayor James,” said Kerr saying the mayor had done some good work.

“But it comes a time when you need fresh ideas and a ‘Sharpe change,’” he said referring to James’ 1986 campaign slogan and victory over then-incumbent mayor Ken Gibson.

James has held the mayor seat for five consecutive terms since 1986. “Even in our organizational structure we set term limits of officers so other dynamic individuals can step up and lead,” says Kerr.

The Newark mayoral election will be held on May 9th. All eyes will be watching to see if change will occur.

About Cory A. Booker:

Cory A. Booker, 36, is a community activists and a partner in the Newark, NJ law firm of Booker, Rabinowitz, et al. He is also founding president of Newark Now, a grassroots nonprofit to help tenant associations in Newark. Cory Booker served as central ward councilman from 1998 to 2001, where he increased security in public housing while also developing additional playgrounds. In December 2005, Black Enterprise magazine named Booker one of the “Best and Brightest under 40.” He was previously recognized by TIME Magazine as the “Savior of Newark,” and in ESQUIRE as one of the country’s “40 Best and Brightest.” For more information visit http://www.corybooker.com.

Andrea Anderson

Contact:     

Sakina Cole

Press Director, Booker Team for Newark

973-733-2006 or 973-517-3492

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