Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries received his first union endorsement last week from Local 97, which represents 9,000 members. Many reside and work in Newark.

“I am proud to stand here in support of Shavar Jeffries for mayor,” said John J. Gerow, president of Teamsters Local 97. “Our working families need safe neighborhoods. Shavar has tested solutions for reducing crime and supporting at-risk gang-involved youths. As the third highest ranking official in the attorney general’s office, Shavar served as an integral leader in the design and implementation of the statewide crime plan that reduced crime three years in a row.”

A poll conducted by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s office has Councilman Ras Baraka beating the former assistant attorney general. According to reports, 68 percent of those polled gave Baraka a favorable rating. Jeffries received a favorable rating from 50 percent. The PolitickerNJ, one of Jersey’s leading online newspapers, is conducting an online survey and currently has Baraka ahead of Jeffries 53 percent to 28 percent.

Baraka is well-known in Newark, and it shows. He has the support of most of the major unions and political organizations. Baraka, who calls himself the progressive candidate, has lined up at least 11 labor groups and a chorus of labor leaders that say they will back him in the May 13 election. Jeffries, the reformer, promises to end the favor trading in government and modernize the institutions. Three months ago, it looked as though he had no shot of winning.