NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — City Councilman Ras Baraka declared victory Tuesday evening in the race for Newark mayor.
Around 9:15 p.m., Baraka declared on his website: “Victory is ours!! We are the mayor.” He also issued several tweets declaring victory.
He later went on to address his supporters.
“It’s never been about me. It’s always been about we,” Baraka said as he claimed victory before a standing-room-only crowd of thousands at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
He pledged to take all the residents of Newark with him straight to the mayor’s office, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.
“We have to be the mayor that cares for all of the people. We have to be the mayor that makes sure that we fights for all of the people; that keeps our schools open and makes sure they’re good,” Baraka said.
Baraka won 53 percent to 46 percent over former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, Dennis reported.
There was no immediate comment from Baraka’s challenger, former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries.
The winner will take the seat held by Cory Booker, who served from 2006 until he stepped down last year after he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
A crowd of supporters cheered as Baraka cast his vote Tuesday. He emerged from the voting booth and said, “Victory.”
“I think that the peoples’ voice will be heard at the end of the night, and we will come out victorious,” Baraka said earlier.
Jeffries arrived at the polling place with his wife and their two children. His 9-year-old son asked if it would be OK to skip school. Jeffries said that was not an option.
“I look forward to winning today and waking up tomorrow and getting to work for the people,” Jeffries said.
Supporters for both candidates came out in force Tuesday.
“Our public schools is crying out and we need help, and we really feel that Ras Baraka, he can do it,” a Baraka supporter said.
“He’s going to prove himself that he really can do it, and that’s what we want. We want to change the city of Newark,” Baraka supporter Albert Baraballo said.
“I believe that Shavar definitely is something new and definitely something that Newark really needs right now,” Jeffries supporter Dennis Webb said.
Acting Mayor Luis Quintana satyed neutral.
“Whoever may be the winner tonight, we are ready to move with them in the transition letting them know that public safety has been a concern and must continue to be a concern of ours,” he said.
Jeffries, 39, a former Newark school board president who is now a law professor at Seton Hall University, has the support of the independent Newark First organization.
His ads have accused Baraka of voting to increase his own pay while laying off police in Newark, where murders spiked to a 10-year high in 2013.
“My mother was killed when I was young, so I understand now what it means to be touched by violence,” Jeffries said.
Baraka, 44, son of the late poet Amiri Baraka, has the support of the labor-connected New Jersey Working Families organization, which has paid for ads that accuse Jeffries of being a pawn of moneyed outside interests.
“I mean, if people don’t know the other guy, that’s why they have to spend all the money to trash me, because they don’t know him,” Baraka said.
Baraka has said Jeffries’ campaign is being funded by political bosses with ties to Gov. Chris Christie. Jeffries admits getting money from many groups, but says he isn’t close to Christie.
At times, the campaign has gotten ugly, including fist fights among supporters, a torched campaign bus and so many campaign signs destroyed that Quintana put out a reminder that defacing signs is illegal.
The two candidates also have significantly different stances on several issues.
On how to fight violent crime, Jeffries wants more police officers while Baraka wants the city to rely on existing officers and state police to fight crime.
Other cities across the state, including Trenton, Paterson, Bayonne, Long Branch and Ocean City, also held elections Tuesday.
In Paterson, former mayor Joey Torres defeated City Council President Andre Sayegh, despite strong Democratic Party backing for Sayegh, according to a published report.
In Bayonne, preliminary results showed neither incumbent Mark Smith nor his closest challenge, police Capt. James Davis, captured 50 percent of the vote, according to a published report.
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