Before we indulge in Mayor Booker’s bio, I would like to interject here in particular. I am big on education, especially the kind they don’t teach you at school. But some young children rely soley on the school’s assistance to help rear them and raise them into productive adults. This Mayor is special as well as his counterpart, which would be Mark Zuckerberg. Both enjoyed a nice relationship for quite some time, and it was for both of them, a meeting of the minds that something had to be done about the school system in Newark. Both men were of a priviledged background, but they grew up not taking that for granted and gave back. Collectively, both Mayor Booker and Mark Zuckerberg put their minds together and raised $100,000,000 for the school systems of Newark, New Jersey. I applaud both of these men and what they did because it will make a difference! They knew the best way to turn a bad situation around was to rely on the youth’s ability and resiliance to overcome what hardships they had as long as they had somewhere in this world to thrive. I commend them both, and I always will!
Cory Anthony Booker (born April 27, 1969) is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Booker is a former Newark City Councilman. Booker was elected Mayor in 2006, becoming the 36th mayor of Newark and the third African-American mayor of that city.
The son of African-American parents (Cary and Carolyn Booker were among the first African-American executives at IBM), Booker was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the predominantly white, affluent town of Harrington Park in Bergen County, New Jersey. He is an alumnus of Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, where he was a 1986 USA Today All-American football player. Following graduation, Booker traveled west to study at Stanford University and earned a B.A. in political science in 1991 as well as an M.A. in sociology the following year. He played varsity football — he made the All–Pacific Ten Academic team — and was elected to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) council of (four) presidents. In addition, he ran The Bridge, a student-run crisis hotline and organized help for youth in East Palo Alto, from Stanford students. While at Stanford, Booker also became good friends with Rachel Maddow.
After Stanford, Booker earned a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he was awarded an honours degree in modern history in 1994. While at Oxford, he became friends with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and became President of the L’Chaim Society, the local chapter of Chabad, and brought together a diverse community there.
Booker obtained a J.D. in 1997 from Yale Law School, where he started and operated free legal clinics for low-income residents of New Haven. He was also a Big Brother, and was active in the Black Law Students Association. Booker lived in Newark during his final year at Yale and following graduation served as Staff Attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and Program Coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.
From 1998 to 2006, he lived in Brick Towers, a troubled housing complex in Newark’s Central Ward. Booker organized tenants to fight for improved conditions. In November 2006, as one of the last remaining tenants in Brick Towers, Booker left his apartment for the top unit in a three-story rental on Hawthorne Avenue in Newark’s South Ward, an area described as “a drug-and gang-plagued neighborhood of boarded-up houses and empty lots.” Brick Towers has since been demolished and a new mixed-income development was built there in 2010.
Booker received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) degree in May 2009 from Newark-based New Jersey Institute of Technology after serving almost 3 years as mayor for ‘his outstanding career in public service as mayor of the City of Newark’. Booker also received an honorary doctorate from Brandeis University in 2009 and was a commencement speaker that year as well. That summer, Booker spoke at Jersey Boys’ State and has been a guest to subsequent Boys’ State functions. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) degree in December 2010 from New York-based Yeshiva University for ‘his bold vision for Newark and setting a national standard for urban transformation’. Mayor Booker received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in June 2011 from Williams College for the urban transformation of New Jersey’s largest city, Newark. He was also the 2011 Williams College Commencement speaker.
Central Ward Council Member
In 1998, Booker won an upset victory, beating four-term incumbent George Branch to get elected to the Newark Municipal Council, a council known for serving the Central Ward Community and for hard-fought elections.
Once on the Council, Booker proved to be an unconventional public official. In 1999, he went on a 10-day hunger strike, living in a tent in front of one of Newark’s public housing projects (Garden Spires), to protest open-air drug dealing and the associated violence. While serving as Councilman, he spent five months living in a motor home, parking “near the most notorious drug corners” to draw attention to the situation. He proposed a variety of Council initiatives that impacted housing, young people, law and order and the efficiency and transparency of City Hall, but was regularly rebuffed by a resistant Municipal Council and often outvoted 8–1. While on the Council, Booker became an outspoken advocate of education reform.
2002 Mayoral run
In 2002, rather than run for re-election as Councilman, Booker decided to run for Mayor of Newark. This pitted him against longtime mayor Sharpe James. In this campaign and the next, James’ supporters questioned Booker’s suburban background, calling him a carpetbagger who was “not black enough” to understand the city. Booker was defeated, 53 percent to 47 percent.
After concluding his service as Central Ward Councilman, Booker in 2002 founded Newark Now, a grassroots non-profit organization that connects Newarkers to useful resources and services in order to help transform their communities. In addition, Booker also became a partner at the West Orange, law firm Booker, Rabinowitz, Trenk, Tully, Lubetkin, DiPasquale and Webster, and a senior fellow at Rutgers University‘s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Booker is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was formerly a member of the Executive Committee at Yale Law School and the Board of Trustees at Stanford University.
2006 Mayoral run
As expected, Cory Booker announced on February 11, 2006, that he would again run for mayor, an intention he had made clear after his loss in 2002.
On March 6, 2006, Deputy Mayor (and State Senator) Ronald Rice entered the race, adding “that Mayor James had encouraged him to run but noted that if the mayor decided to join the race, his candidacy could change.” On March 27, 2006, James announced that he would not seek a sixth term, preferring to focus on his seat in the New Jersey Senate.
Rice ran a campaign attacking Booker for raising over $6 million for the race. Booker’s campaign outspent Rice’s 25 to 1. Booker tried to identify Rice as a “political crony” of former mayor Sharpe James, to whom Booker lost in 2002.
On Election Day, May 9, 2006, Newark’s nonpartisan election took place. This time Booker won with 72 percent of the vote, soundly defeating Rice. Booker’s entire slate of City Council candidates, known as the “Booker Team,” swept the Council elections, giving Booker firm leadership of the city’s government.
Before taking office as mayor, Booker sued Sharpe James’ administration in order to terminate cut-rate land deals favoring two redevelopment agencies. Each organization had recently been created by the Municipal Council and listed Sharpe James as a member of its advisory board. The Municipal Council claimed that these low prices were necessary to promote development in Newark’s blighted neighborhoods; however, Booker argued that the state’s “pay-to-play” laws had been violated and would furthermore cost the city more than $15 million in lost revenue if these land deals were approved at the next council meeting. Specifically, Booker referenced a case on Broad and South streets – a piece of land that would generate $87,000 under the proposed land deals yet was valued at $3.7 million under current market rates. On June 20, 2006, Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello ruled in favor of Booker, stating that his attorneys had “made a persuasive argument that campaign contributors were given discounted land deals.”
In late June 2006, before Booker took office, New Jersey investigators foiled a plot, led by Bloods gang leaders inside four New Jersey state prisons, to assassinate Booker. The plot was led by New Jersey Bloods gang leader Lester Alford, an inmate in East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey. The plan called for prisoners in four New Jersey state prisons to riot and then for Bloods gang members on the outside to assassinate Booker simultaneously. The threats against Booker were believed to be in response to Booker’s campaign promises to increase the number of police on the streets and take a harder line on crime.
Mayor Cory Booker defeated his opponents in a nonpartisan election on May 11, 2010. The final results were Cory A. Booker 21,397 votes; Clifford J. Minor 12,924 votes; Yvonne Garrett Moore 1,629 votes; Mirna L. White 415 votes.
Booker assumed office as mayor of Newark on July 1, 2006, and is only the third African-American person to govern the city since 1970. After his first week in office, Booker announced a 100-day plan to implement reforms in Newark. Some of the proposed changes included: adding police officers, ending background checks for many city jobs, an effort to help former offenders find employment in the city, refurbishing police stations, improving city services, and expanding summer youth programs.
On October 16, 2006, Booker formally introduced his administration’s first adopted Newark City Budget. The approved $697.1 million budget resulted in an 8.3% increase in the city’s property tax, which is one of the largest property tax increases in the city’s history. The budget also increased the number of city employees from 3,968 to 4,197. These increases were cited as necessary to fix the structural financial deficit and secure a solid foundation for Newark’s future. Booker pledged to not increase taxes the following year, a promise he kept – the City of Newark has not raised taxes in over two years. His administration has also since reduced the size of government with a 2009 Budget proposal containing 3935 city employees. In addition, the City of Newark has for the last two consecutive years received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, reflective of the Booker Administration’s continued commitment to an honest, transparent budgeting process ending decades of neglect and setting a foundation to balance the city’s finances.
One of the mayor’s first priorities was to reduce the city’s crime rate. Booker appointed Garry McCarthy, former Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the New York City Police Department, as the director of the Newark Police Department. Public safety in Newark has been overhauled under Director McCarthy’s lead. A new Central Narcotics Division was created as well as a Fugitive Apprehension Unit, which has been responsible for the capture of 11 out of 12 Most Wanted Felons in Newark. In addition, major technological advances have been made to crime-fighting initiatives such as citywide camera and gunshot detection systems. Community-oriented and privately funded programs such as the Crime Stoppers and Gun Stoppers anonymous tip lines have made an important impact in crime prevention and apprehension of criminals in Newark. Crime reduction has been such a central concern to the Booker Administration that Booker, along with his security team, was known to personally patrol the streets of Newark until times as late as 4 a.m. early in his first term.
Crime has dropped significantly in the city of Newark, which currently leads the nation in violent crime reduction. From 2006 to 2008, crime dropped by the following percentages: murders 36%, shooting incidents 41%, rapes 30%, and auto thefts 26%. In 2008, Newark had its lowest murder rate since 1959. Despite the success indicated by these statistics, as the global economic recession set in, robberies rose 27% in 2008 and another 10% through late June 2009. As of July 26, 2009, murders are down 42% overall, rapes are down 41% overall and robberies are down 12% since 2008.
The month of March in 2010 marked Newark’s first murder-free month in over 44 years. As of April 1, 2010, the murder rate in Newark was the second best since 1941 and crime rates for aggravated assaults, robberies, carjacking, and shootings were also down for the first quarter compared to 2009.
In addition to lowering crime, Booker has both doubled the amount of affordable housing under development and quadrupled the amount under predevelopment. Booker has slashed the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million.
Despite criticisms, Booker has also raised the salaries of many city workers. Most recently, however, the Booker Administration and the City of Newark imposed one-day-a-month furloughs for all non-uniformed employees from July through December 2010, as well as two-percent pay cuts for managers and directors currently earning more than $100,000 a year. Citing the reason for the pay cuts, Booker noted, “In 2006, we took over a city in financial crisis. We have made significant steps to address our financial future and decided that we would not balance the budget on the backs of our residents.” Booker has reduced his own salary twice since taking office, voluntarily reducing his salary by 8% early in his first year as mayor. None of Booker’s senior managers have received pay increases since taking office.
Mayor Booker’s leadership has attracted approximately $100 million in private philanthropy to the City of Newark and a variety of nonprofits and public/private partnerships have been created and used to better the lives of Newark residents. In April 2008, the Newark Charter School Fund was established to provide grants in support of Newark’s charter schools to support a successful public school system in Newark. The City of Newark also works with GreenSpaces, which has committed $40 million toward the largest park expansion initiative in over a century with a total of twenty-one park construction and rehabilitation projects scheduled for completion in every ward by the end of 2010. To support the Newark Police Department, the Newark Police Foundation was established in 2006 and provides funding and other services to the Police Department which has had a significant impact on the NPD’s ability to pay for necessary resources that would otherwise not be readily funded through the department’s budget.
In 2009, after President Barack Obama became president of the United States, Booker was offered the chance to head the new White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy; Booker turned the offer down citing a commitment to Newark.
In an effort to make government more accessible, Booker’s administration has held regular open office hours during which city residents can meet personally with the Mayor to discuss their concerns.
Booker was honored in October 2009 by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence with the Sarah Brady Visionary Award for his work in reducing gun violence.
Booker made news when on December 31, 2010, a constituent used Twitter to ask the mayor to send someone to her father’s house to shovel his driveway because her father, who was 65 years old, was going to attempt to do it himself. Booker responded by tweeting; “I will do it myself; where does he live?” Other people volunteered, including one person who offered his help on Twitter and 20 minutes later the mayor and some volunteers showed up and shoveled the man’s driveway. In 2010, Samepoint released a study that measured the social media influence of mayors around the country, and ranking the top 100 most social mayors. San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom was named the Most Social Mayor in America according to the Samepoint study. Newark, New Jersey Cory Booker was the second most social mayor, according to the Samepoint study.
Booker is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of “making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets.” The Coalition is co-chaired by Boston mayor Thomas Menino and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Booker delivered the commencement address at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, on May 15, 2010. In his address, he implored graduates to “just be you” and related several anecdotes about his own education and career, including one pertaining to a chance meeting on a plane with a woman and her children. At the end of the flight, he exchanged phone numbers with the woman, who contacted him during his first mayoral campaign, becoming a donor. One of her children became a campaign worker, fifteen years after the flight. His speech was enthusiastically received and he received a standing ovation.
Two days later Booker also delivered the commencement address at Columbia University‘s Teachers College in New York City on May 17, 2010, and at Suffolk University Law School a week later in Boston on May 23, 2010.
Mayor Booker delivered the commencement address to New York Law School graduates on May 13, 2011 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.
Booker sits on the board of advisors of the political action committee Democrats for Education Reform.