Today we have our final Newark Mayoral Candidate, Anibal Ramos Jr.. The North Ward Councilman has been a councilman for seven years now, a Newark School President, Director Dept. of Economic Development, Training and Employment and the Department of Citizen Services for Essex County. Learn more about North Ward Councilman and his plans for Newark here.
1. I have asked this question of both Mayoral Candidates and part of it did come to fruition. So here it is if the state were to give back local control of Newark Public Schools what would be your priority, barring in mind last week it was announced that fiscal control will return over the summer to local control?
As a former school board member, including serving two terms as the president, I share the frustration of every Newark resident who feels disenfranchised by the state’s prolonged presence in our district. I look forward to the day when the state returns control of the Board of Education to the people of Newark. However, with local control comes increased local responsibility. After all, we know what our children need. Whether we have control of the district, my priority has always been the children. Our focus must remain on ensuring all of our children have access to a great education, whether in a charter, magnet or traditional public school. As mayor, I will ensure our public school offerings are vastly improved to meet the needs of our students and prepare them for the global, ever-changing demands of the 21st century.
Anibal Ramos Jr. at our Town Hall Meeting on Education
2. Economic Development in your ward, the North Ward has been very important to you. Could you tell us what you are most proud of and what you as Mayor would like to do?
As the councilman representing the North Ward for the last seven years, I am especially proud of the economic development projects that have occurred throughout the ward, specifically the Mount Prospect Partnership. ThePartnership has been invaluable, serving as a community-based non-profit organization that fosters the best possible neighborhood for residents and businesses. The Partnership has served as a catalyst, laying the groundwork for economic revival in the North Ward. Moreover, we have seen the development of market rate and affordable housing in the Ward.
In addition, I am proud in my role on the Council inbringing Panasonic’s world headquarters, Teacher’s Village and other such projects into Newark. As mayor, I will continue to fight for more economic development opportunities and local job creation in the downtown area and throughout the city.
3. Crime in the city has been on the rise recently and of those crimes domestic abuse rates high in the North Ward can you tell me what you would do city wide for crime in general and what programs would you enact or support to quell domestic violence?
Every time I hear that someone has been shot or murdered in our city, my heart breaks and my blood boils. The hard-working men and women of our police department are doing in incredible job, but our department is understaffed. I have worked with the department to establish partnerships with other law enforcement agencies and have fought to get them access to the technology they need to better fight crime. As mayor, I will find the funds to put more officers on the streets, increase foot patrols in high-crime areas, and give our police department the tools they need to prevent crime in the first place. And I won’t stop there. As mayor, I will make it my priority to securefunding for adult-supervised programs after school and on weekends to ensure our children have viable alternatives to a life of crime on the street. Domestic violence is a scourge on our community. I will work closely with our Family Success Centers throughout the city to provide resources to families in crisis and give women alternatives to staying in an abusive relationship.
4. It has recently been reported that Barringer (3 oldest High School in The United States) High School will break up into separate schools, but many are also worried about keeping the name Barringer. What is your opinion on the name?
Barringer High School has a rich history of graduating some of Newark’s most recognizable figures, such as the late Congressman Donald Payne Sr., former NFL star Andre Tippet and current Essex County Executive Joseph N. Divincenzo. However, over the past few years, the school has not performed at a level worthy of the talents of our students.
I support the concept of breaking up the school into twosmaller, more manageable schools in which students can get more individualized attention under the Barringer name, while enhancing the school’s fine tradition. I also believe the new schools will provide more resources for these 1,500 students. One of the schools is based on hands-on inquiry and experiential education principles such as teamwork. The other focuses on using history to understand ourselves, with an emphasis on civics.
It is important to note Newark students have more choices for attending excellent, free public high school than in any other city in New Jersey. We offer magnet schools to charter schools to one that even offers free college credits.Students and parents at Barringer High should be afforded quality education, course selection opportunities and a safe environment that other high schools students are offered.
We need to ensure all kids receive an excellent educationfrom pre-K through high school, with the full expectation that every Newark graduate will be prepared to pursue college or trade school.
5. Our property taxes under the current administration has gone up considerably and yet our services such as sanitation, street cleaning, walking police officers have been on the decline. What would you do to help the citizens of Newark?
For too long, we spent more money in Newark than we collected in tax revenue. Moreover, the c has relied on one shot revenues for a greater part of the last 10 years leading up to 2006 to balance its budget. This is a structural deficit. If you did this with your household finances, eventually you’d find yourself in bankruptcy court. Every year,Newark went to the state with our hands out. However, over the last few years, the City Council has imposed fiscal discipline on the administration. For the first time this year, we will have a budget that is balanced and without the need for additional state funding. We are now on solid financial footing. The city weathered the storm of the worst economic downturn of our lifetime.
Currently, the city has about 1,500 less employees than it had prior to 2006 and many contract areas such as legal have been reduced. As a council member, I led the charge to eliminate the Council’s public relations contract and reduce other wasteful perks. I do not drive a city car nor have a city phone.
As mayor, I will work to increase revenues by continuing to attract new investments, while taking a close look at every department in city government to determine how we can more efficiently serve the residents of the city.
6. Name three people you admire and why?
My parents remain my inspiration. My father, who worked for more than 30 years at a factory in the East Ward, taught me work ethic. My mother focused on academics, pushing me to focus on schoolwork and embrace opportunities to learn.
I was fortunate to get into Our Lady of Good Counsel in Newark, but we did not make enough to pay the tuition. Without hesitation, my mother took a part-time job at a store in downtown Newark just so I could go to school.
My parents’ commitment made it possible for me to attend Rutgers, Newark, where I met another person who changed my life: Professor Clement Price. I took his graduate course in African American history and was fortunate to have him as my senior year adviser. There is no better teacher or role model in the educational community; Dr. Price is one of Newark’s scholarly treasures.
And, finally, I must note my admiration for Roberto Clemente, who played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a humanitarian who always had a sense of civic responsibility. He gave his life trying to help victims of a tragic earthquake in Nicaragua rather than just live the life of an idolized celebrity athlete.
One of the largest Little Leagues in the city is named after him, as well as a school in my ward. There is also a statue of Clemente in Newark, celebrating his civic responsibility.
7. If you’re elected Mayor, your number 1 priority is?
I want to ensure the safety of our residents. Fighting crime has been my priority as councilman and will be the central focus of my administration. Newark can never achieve its full potential when our residents are being gunned down oncity streets in broad daylight, when parents are afraid to let their children play outside or when our hard-working business owners are being robbed at gunpoint. My administration will continue to raise private money toprovide our police with every resource they need, such ascameras and gunshot detection devices, to prevent crimeand take criminals off the streets. My administration will enforce truancy laws and curfews and fund afterschool and summer programs that positively engage our kids.