Reported by April Taylor
The woman, who worked for the city during Booker’s tenure, said that she thinks it was money and the promise of investment that made Booker attractive to voters. But many Newarkers, including the woman he interviewed, were more than disappointed with the actions taken once Booker was in office. In fact, the woman even stated that she voted for Booker for Senate because she wanted him out of the mayor’s office.
Financial disappointments included Booker attempting to privatize the city’s water supply and squandering a $100 million gift from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the city’s schools receiving no direct benefit. In terms of contact with his constituents, many felt that he was much more out of touch than what he had campaigned to be. He seemed more available for television appearances than to meet with citizens in City Hall. As Burroughs put it, while the media was busy believing Booker was a “real-life Captain America…to Newarkers, he was as illusory as that Marvel film image.”
Burroughs’ interaction with Baraka left a much different impression than the one painted for him of Booker. Baraka talked about how Newarkers’ self-hatred prevents them from truly believing the city can be changed for the better. Baraka’s defeat of an opponent who spent millions of dollars trying to undermine his credibility and accomplishments was possible because of his grass-roots connection to the city as a school teacher, vice principal, principal, and city councilor. Baraka’s campaign mottos were meant to embody self-empowerment rather than sell the notion that outsiders have the answers Newark needs to become stronger and more vibrant. As Burroughs puts it, Baraka is “an ordinary man who needs his people’s help. But first he needs the energy and actions from their self-confidence. If, as mayor, he can channel that, Newark will indeed enter new arenas first.”