Newark Mayor Ras Baraka made a pledge that if elected, all the citizens of the city would also become mayors.
“For the next four years, more than 270,000 mayors will govern Newark,” said Baraka. “Working collectively, we will empower each other, take responsibility for our families, our neighborhoods and chart our new direction.”
To help achieve that goal, Baraka appointed a transition team of community leaders, educators, business executives and union officials. The committee of more than 250 members includes parents, students, senior citizens, hospital administrators, immigrants and other people who have a stake in Newark.
“They were drawn from every ethnicity, race, neighborhood, income level, education level and political perspective in Newark,” said Baraka. “Together, we will accomplish more than any one mayor could possibly achieve.”
After a series of community forums, the committee introduced a plan called “Blueprint for a New Newark.” The 100-day plan includes reforms for public safety, community engagement, executive recruiting, education and economic development.
Last week, the city addressed its first, and arguably its most important issue: a strategy for addressing crime.
City officials, police officers, representatives from city agencies, members of the clergy and civic activists walked around various sections of the city and met with residents about problems in their neighborhoods. Police officials hope to improve relations between the Police Department and the community over the next few months. The department also plans to have at least 70 percent of the approximately 1,000-member police force patrolling the streets.
Last year, Newark saw the most violent 12-month stretch in nearly a quarter century, the city suffering 111 homicides. According to police, this year there have been 46 homicides, matching the number at this time last year.