Three Newark neighborhoods are holding a runoff for city council
Voters in Newark’s East, South and West wards will go to the polls on Tuesday to settle three runoff elections for City Council in seats where incumbents did not seek re-election.
The most heavily guarded contest takes place in the East Ward, where two former Newark police officers face off for the seat of Augusto Amador, who is retiring after 24 years as a councilman.
In the southern district, Patrick Consulting nearly secured a first-round victory with 45.65% of the vote, less than 200 votes to win the seat without a runoff. The influential Democratic municipal president of the southern district and running mate of Baraka now faces Terrance Bankston, who spent seven years as an aide to Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Councilman John Sharpe James no longer shows up,
The West Ward presents a match between two young rising stars: the rapper who sells platinum Dupre “DoItAll” Kelly and Chigozie Onyema, lawyer and former Assistant Commissioner for Community Affairs under Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. The incumbent, Joseph McCallum is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks.
The best candidate in the May elections does not always win the June run-off. In 1998, 29-year-old Cory Booker forced Newark Central Ward Councilman George Branch to a runoff, but Branch led Booker by 340 votes. In the second round, Booker won by about ten percentage points.
While there have never been more ways to vote in New Jersey, Newark voters are still not sold on pre-election voting. Newark declined to exercise its option under a relatively new law to use early voting in municipal elections.
But during the non-partisan municipal election on May 10, only 11% of voters turned out to vote. Just under 16% of all ballots this spring were cast by mail.
While Baraka won re-election with a landslide of 83% of the vote, more than 90% of Newark’s registered voters did not vote for him.
While House Budget Committee Chair Eliana Pintor-Marin (D-Newark) was an early supporter of Silva, most of the political establishment is now on board: Baraka; Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark); city councilors Anibal Ramos, Carlos Gonzalez and Luis Quintana; Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo; Sheriff Armando Fountoura; and Congresswoman Shanique Speight (D-Newark.
Silva finished 36 votes ahead of Campos in the May 10 election, 1,104 to 1,968 (35.6% to 34.6%). Jonathan Seabra finished third with 478 votes (15.4%), followed by ex-policeman Louis Weber, who was running on a list with Mayor Ras Baraka before his campaign imploded over allegations of sexual assault. He obtained 449 votes (14.5%).
In May 2018, Amador finished first in a field of five candidates, beating Campos by 269 votes, 43%-35%. Amador then won the June run-off by just 83 votes, 1,824 to 1,741 (51%-49%).
Due to low turnout in 2018, Campos got four more years on city council, even though 89.1% of voters in his neighborhood did not vote for him.
Kelly finished first in May, beating Onyema by 352 votes, 1,489 to 1,137 (38%-29%). Four other candidates trailed far behind, including former South Ward councilor Oscar James, who won 519 votes (13%).
This is Kelly’s second bid for public office. He ran for a seat at large in 2018, but got 8,452 votes behind Councilman Eddie Osborne.
McCallum was forced into a runoff in 2018 after leading Tomecca Keyes by 111 votes, 31%-28%. He won the June elections by 299 votes, 56%-44%.
The council received 1,941 votes (45.7%) in a field of six candidates in May, ahead of Bankston (761) in a race of 45.7% to 17.9%. Bankston edged Trenton Jones by 82 votes to advance to the second round.