Why political bosses could mean a Ramos victory for Newark

Since announcing his candidacy for mayor, Anibal Ramos has gained a great deal of attention. Photo: Newark New Jersey

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013 — Promising to build a better Newark through community policing, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. is the first of Newark’s three mayoral candidates to announce a comprehensive public safety plan. Ramos recently laid out his agenda to address Newark’s crime epidemic, if the voters choose him to replace former Mayor Corey Booker.

Since announcing his candidacy for mayor of Newark, Ramos has become the voice for community engagement. As a North Ward councilman, he addressed crimes against youth, and he highlighted the rate of gang activity. He has stressed the need for education reform as an alternative to the city’s failing schools.

As national politics highlights the growing importance of Hispanic voters, Ramos could be elected Newark’s first Hispanic mayor. In the upcoming special election in May, Newark voters will either make history with Ramos, or support one of the two African-American candidates: former Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, and South Ward City Councilman Ras Baraka.

An alliance of Newark’s Essex county political bosses could cement a commanding lead for Ramos leading up to the election. If Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, political boss Stephen Adubato, Sr., and a host of other power players are already behind Ramos, then the battle may be over before the war begins. Ramos has already raised more money than the other candidates, with over $250,000 as of the last campaign filing date. His non-partisan approach to Newark politics also makes Ramos a top contender for the city’s top position.

Ramos has already explained his strategy for implementing a new police precinct to oversee Newark’s South Ward as part of his public safety reform effort. This is the city’s most dangerous zip code, and the Ward represented by his opponent, Councilman Ras Baraka. For decades, many Newark residents believed that Newark’s policing only focused on the Central Ward; redistricting could mean a drastic change, which could work in Ramos’ favor.

Like NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Ramos strongly supports the the creation of local alliances between Newark’s police department and neighborhood community groups and civic organizations. This is a direct strategy to counter gang-activity. However, his critics ask how Ramos plans to fund these operations with Newark’s budget, and they wonder whether his initiatives will really reduce crime.

The odds are that the spring debates in this campaign will focus on the need for public safety and reducing homicides. Newark’s crime rate has soared as murders have continued to plague the city’s South Ward. These crimes have received a lot of attention; compared to the Central Ward, which is frequently patrolled by police — the South Ward has been relatively ignored.

Although Ramos’ plan is a strong start in his mayoral campaign, his candidacy is right on time as America’s Hispanic community continues to swell. This is an opportunity for the 37-year-old Newark native to turn out registered Latino voters.

In a recent press conference at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, Ramos said, “We cannot be a tale of two cities with a downtown that is vibrant while neighborhoods are being left behind.” May will show us whether the city is ready, willing and able to cast their ballots for Ramos, but ‘Jersey politics always has a way of winning the race.

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