|Booker at the 2011 Time 100 Gala|
|36th Mayor of Newark|
July 1, 2006
|Preceded by||Sharpe James|
|Newark City Councilor
from the Central Ward
|Preceded by||George Branch|
|Succeeded by||Charles A. Bell|
|Born||Cory Anthony Booker
April 27, 1969
|Residence||Newark, New Jersey|
|Alma mater||Stanford University (B.A., M.A.)
Oxford University (M.A.)
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Cory Anthony Booker (born April 27, 1969) is an American politician and the current Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was first elected in 2006, and had previously served as a Newark City Councilor from 1998 to 2002. He ran for Mayor in 2002, but lost to incumbent Sharpe James; he ran again in 2006 and won against Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice. Booker is the third black Mayor of Newark.
He is a graduate of Stanford University, Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. After college, Booker won an upset victory for a seat on the Newark City Council, defeating four-term incumbent George Branch.
He has gained a reputation for his personal involvement in public service, including going on a ten-day hunger strike outdoors to draw attention to the dangers of open-air drug dealing, living on a "food stamp" budget to raise awareness of food insecurity, shoveling the driveway of a constituent upon request, allowing Hurricane Sandy victims into his home, helping a constituent propose to his girlfriend, rescuing a dog from freezing temperatures, and saving a woman from a house fire at his own risk.
Considered one of the most prominent Democrats in New Jersey, he has declared he will run for the seat in the United States Senate in the 2014 election, ending speculation that he would challenge incumbent Chris Christie in 2013 for Governor of New Jersey.
Early life, education, and career 
Booker was born on April 27, 1969 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Harrington Park, New Jersey, 20 miles (32 km) north of Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Carolyn Rose (née Jordan) and Cary Alfred Booker, were among the first black executives at IBM. Booker graduated from Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan and was named to the 1986 USA Today All-USA high school football team.
Booker went on to Stanford University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1991 and a Master of Arts in sociology the following year. While at Stanford, he played varsity football, and also made the All–Pacific Ten Academic team and was elected senior class president. In addition, Booker ran The Bridge Peer Counseling Center, a student-run crisis hotline, and organized help from Stanford students for youth in East Palo Alto, California.
After Stanford, Booker was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford, where he earned an honors degree in U.S. history in 1994 as a member of The Queen's College. He earned his Juris Doctor in 1997 from Yale Law School, where he operated free legal clinics for low-income residents of New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, Booker was a founding member of the Chai Society (now the Eliezer Society), a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and was active in the National Black Law Students Association.
Newark City Council 
Contemplating advocacy work and a run for city council in Newark after graduation from law school, Booker lived in the city during his final year at Yale. After graduation, he served as Staff Attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and Program Coordinator of the Newark Youth Project. In 1998, Booker won an upset victory for a seat on the Newark City Council, defeating four-term incumbent George Branch. To draw attention to the problems of open-air drug dealing and the associated violence, he went on a 10-day hunger strike and lived in a tent and later in a motor home near drug dealing areas of the city. Booker proposed Council initiatives that impacted housing, young people, law and order, and the efficiency and transparency of City Hall, but was regularly outvoted by all of his fellow Councilors.
Mayor of Newark 
Mayoral campaigns 
2002 election 
On January 9, 2002, Booker announced his campaign for Mayor of Newark rather than running for re-election as councilman; this pitted him against longtime incumbent Sharpe James. James, who had easily won election four consecutive times saw Booker as a real threat, and responded with mudslinging, calling him at a campaign event "a Republican who took money from the KKK [and] Taliban... [who's] collaborating with the Jews to take over Newark". In the campaign, James' supporters questioned Booker's suburban background, calling him a carpetbagger who was "not black enough" to understand the city. Booker lost the election on May 14, garnering 47% of the vote to James' 53%.
2006 election 
Booker announced on February 11, 2006, that he would again run for Mayor. Although incumbent Mayor Sharpe James filed paperwork to run for reelection, shortly after he announced he would instead cancel his bid to focus on his work as a State Senator, which he was originally elected to in 1999. At James' discretion, Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice decided to run as well. Booker's campaign outspent Rice's 25 to 1, for which Rice attacked him. As well as raising over $6 million for the race, Booker attacked Rice as a "political crony" of James. Booker won the election of May 9 with 72% of the vote. His slate of City Council candidates, known as the "Booker Team", swept the Council elections, giving Booker firm leadership of the city government.
2010 election 
On April 3, 2010, Booker announced his campaign for reelection. At his announcement event, Booker remarked that a "united government" was crucial to progress, knowing his supporters in the City Council faced tough reelections. Heavily favored to win, Booker faced former Judge and Essex County prosecutor Clifford J. Minor, as well as two minor candidates. On May 11 Booker won reelection with 59% of the vote, but with only seven of his nine Council supporters winning reelection.
Before taking office as Mayor, Booker sued the James administration seeking to terminate cut-rate land deals favoring two redevelopment agencies that had contributed to James' campaigns and listed James as a member of their advisory boards. Booker argued that the state’s “pay-to-play” laws had been violated and that the land deals would cost the city more than $15 million in lost revenue. Specifically, Booker referenced a parcel on Broad and South streets that would generate only $87,000 under the proposed land deals yet was valued at $3.7 million under then-current market rates. On June 20, 2006 Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello ruled in favor of Booker.
In late June 2006, before Booker took office, New Jersey investigators foiled a plot to assassinate Booker led by Bloods gang leaders inside four New Jersey state prisons. The motive for the plot was unclear, but was described variously as a response to the acrimonious campaign and to Booker's campaign promises to take a harder line on crime.
First term 
Booker assumed office as Mayor of Newark on July 1, 2006. After his first week in office, Booker announced a 100-day plan to implement reforms in Newark. Some of the proposed changes included increasing police forces, ending background checks for many city jobs to help former offenders find employment in the city, refurbishing police stations, improving city services, and expanding summer youth programs.
One of Bookers's first priorities was to reduce the city's crime rate. In doing so, he appointed Garry McCarthy, former Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the New York City Police Department, as the director of the Newark Police Department. Crime reduction has been such a central concern to the Booker administration that Booker, along with his security team, was known to personally patrol the streets of Newark until times as late as 4 a.m.
Booker is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bipartisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets". Booker was honored in October 2009 by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence with the Sarah Brady Visionary Award for his work in reducing gun violence. As Mayor, crime dropped significantly in Newark, which led the nation in violent crime reduction from 2006 to 2008; In 2008 Newark had its lowest murder rate since 1959, and March 2010 marked Newark’s first murder-free month in over 44 years. In addition to his crime-lowering initiatives, Booker doubled the amount of affordable housing under development and quadrupled the amount under pre-development, and reduced the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million.
Since taking office Booker has voluntarily reduced his own salary twice, reducing his salary by 8% early in his first year as Mayor. Booker also raised the salaries of many city workers. However, his administration imposed one-day-a-month furloughs for all non-uniformed employees from July through December 2010, as well as 2% pay cuts for managers and directors earning more than $100,000 a year. In 2008 and 2009 the City of Newark received the Government Finance Officers Association's "Distinguished Budget Presentation Award". In an effort to make government more accessible, Booker has held regular open office hours during which city residents can meet with him personally to discuss their concerns. In 2010 Booker was among the finalists for the World Mayor prize, ultimately placing seventh. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2012 award.
Second term 
On October 10, 2010, Booker established Let's Move! Newark as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's national Let's Move! initiative against childhood obesity. In October 2011 he expanded the program to include Let’s Move! Newark: Our Power, a four-month fitness challenge for Newark public school students run by public health advocate Jeff Halevy.
Booker gained national attention when on December 28, 2010, a constituent used Twitter to ask him to send someone to her father's house to shovel his driveway because her elderly father was going to attempt to do it himself. Booker responded by tweeting; "I will do it myself; where does he live?" Other people volunteered, including one person who offered his help on Twitter, and 20 minutes later Booker and some volunteers showed up and shoveled the man's driveway. On April 12, 2012, Booker saved a woman from a house fire, suffering smoke inhalation and second degree burns on his hands in the process. Newark Fire Chief John Centanni said that Booker's actions possibly saved the woman's life. After Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the shoreline areas of New Jersey and New York in late October 2012, Booker invited Newarkers without power to eat and sleep in his home. In February 2013, responding to a Twitter post, Booker helped a nervous constituent propose to his girlfriend.
On November 20, 2012, a melee occurred at a Newark City Council meeting attended by Booker. The nine-seat council was to vote on the successor to the seat vacated by newly-elected U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr.. Booker's opponents on the council, including Ras Baraka, sought to appoint John Sharpe James, son of the former Mayor, while Booker and his supporters favored Shanique Speight. Booker attended the meeting to deal with the eventuality of the lack of a quorum or a tie vote, in which state law would allow him to cast a deciding vote. After Baraka was refused an opportunity to address the council by acting Council President Anibal Ramos, Jr., Baraka and two other council members walked away in protest, whereupon Booker cast the deciding vote for Speight. Supporters of James stormed the stage and were held back by riot police, who eventually used pepper spray on some members of the crowd. Baraka later blamed Booker for inciting the disturbance, while Booker refused comment to the media after the vote.
In December 2012, after discussions with a constituent about New Jersey's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Booker began a week-long challenge attempting to live on a food budget of $30 per week—the amount SNAP recipients receive. When critics noted that the very name of the SNAP program shows that it is intended to "supplement" an individual's food budget, not be its sole source, Booker replied that his aim was to spark a discussion about the "reality" that many Americans rely solely on food stamps to survive.
Public opinion polling 
Throughout his mayoralty, Fairleigh Dickinson University's public opinion poll PublicMind, has asked New Jersey residents statewide whether or not they have heard of Mayor Booker, and whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him.
2014 U.S. Senate campaign 
On December 20, 2012, Booker announced that he would explore running for the seat in the U.S. Senate currently occupied by Frank Lautenberg, ending speculation that he would challenge Chris Christie in the 2013 race for Governor of New Jersey. On January 11, 2013 Booker filed papers to form a campaign committee, but has still not announced if he will run. Roughly one month after declaring his interest in running for the Senate, incumbent Lautenberg announced he would not seek reelection.
According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll in March 2013, Booker is the leading Democratic candidate, being the choice of 50% of those polled; he expanded his lead from a January 2013 poll that showed him as the choice of 42% of respondents, after Lautenberg dropped out. Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and a professor of political science at the University said, "Booker’s early lead will be helpful in attempts to raise money and rally the party behind his candidacy".
Other activities 
Obama association 
In 2009 after Barack Obama became President of the United States, Booker was offered to head the new White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy. Booker turned the offer down, citing a commitment to Newark.
Booker generated controversy on May 12, 2012, when he appeared on Meet The Press as a surrogate for the reelection campaign of Barack Obama and made remarks which were critical of that campaign. Booker stated that the attacks on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital were "nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright." The comments were subsequently utilized by the Romney campaign against Obama. Booker made follow-up comments clarifying that he believed Obama's attacks on Romney's record at Bain were legitimate but did not retract his point about attacking private equity in general. Two weeks later, Booker's communications director Anne Torres tendered her resignation, although she maintained it was unrelated to Meet the Press.
Affiliations and honors 
Booker sits on the board of advisers of the political action committee "Democrats for Education Reform". Booker is currently a member of the board of trustees at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was formerly a member of the Executive Committee at Yale Law School and the Board of Trustees at Stanford University.
In May 2009, Booker received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Newark-based New Jersey Institute of Technology for "his outstanding career in public service as the Mayor of Newark". In May 2009, Booker received an honorary doctorate from Brandeis University, and was a commencement speaker that year as well. Booker received another honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in December 2010 from Yeshiva University for "his bold vision for Newark and setting a national standard for urban transformation". In June 2011, Booker received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and served as that years commencement speaker at Williams College for the urban transformation of Newark. In May 2012, Booker received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Bard College and gave the commencement speech at the graduation. In 2010, Booker delivered the commencement addresses at Pitzer College in Claremont, California on May 15, Columbia University's Teachers College in New York City on May 17, and Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, a week later on May 23, 2010. Booker gave the commencement address to New York Law School graduates on May 13, 2011, at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. He delivered a commencement address to Stanford University graduates on June 17, 2012, at Stanford Stadium. He also received an honorary degree at Fairleigh Dickinson's 69th Commencement Ceremony in May 2012. In May 2013, Booker gave the commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis and received an honorary doctorate of law.
Booker's 2002 mayoral campaign, which he lost, was chronicled by filmmaker Marshall Curry in his documentary Street Fight. The film was nominated in 2005 for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Since 2009, Booker has starred in the documentary series Brick City. The series focuses on Booker and his efforts to improve Newark by reducing crime and bring about economic renewal. Brick City won a Peabody Award in 2009, and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2010.
Mark Zuckerberg donation 
In July 2010, Booker attended a dinner at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he was seated with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, who had no known ties to Newark, announced in September 2010 that he was donating $100 million of his personal fortune to the Newark school system. According to an article in the New York Times, Booker and Zuckerberg continued their conversation about Booker's plans for Newark. The initial gift was made to start a foundation for education. The gift was formally announced when Booker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Zuckerberg appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The timing of Zuckerberg's donation was questioned by some as a move for damage control to his image, as it was announced on the opening day of the movie The Social Network, a film that painted an unflattering portrait of Zuckerberg. On her show, however, Winfrey told the audience that Zuckerberg and Booker had been in talks for months and had actually planned the announcement for the previous month, and additionally, she and Booker had to force Zuckerberg to put his name to the donation, which he had wanted to make anonymously.
Conan O'Brien "feud" 
In the fall of 2009, Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien engaged in a satirical on-air and YouTube feud with Booker, with O'Brien jokingly insulting the City of Newark, and Booker responding that he would ban O'Brien from the Newark airport. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the feud to end during a prepared comedy bit, telling Booker to chalk it up to a head injury suffered by O'Brien less than two weeks earlier. Booker then appeared on O'Brien's show and assured viewers that the feud was over and that he was actually a big fan of O'Brien, who agreed that every time he made a joke about Newark, he would donate $500 to the City of Newark and also made a $50,000 donation to the Newark Now charity, which was matched by NBC Universal.
Personal life 
Booker regularly exercises and has been a vegetarian (for health and environmental reasons) since his days as a student at Oxford. He abstains from alcohol, is uninterested in needless accumulation, and "has no known vices or addictions" other than books and coffee.
Named in 2013 as one of Town & Country’’s "Top 40 Bachelors", Booker has never been married. In a column in a college paper, Booker admitted regretfully that as a teenager he had "hated gays", which prompted speculation if he himself is gay. When asked, his spokesperson refused to comment on the matter.
In 2009 Booker told U.S. News & World Report that he was raised in a religious household, and that he and his family attended a small African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Jersey. One of Booker's maternal great-grandfathers was caucasian, and Booker also has other European and Native American ancestry.
From 1998 to 2006, Booker lived in Brick Towers, a troubled housing complex in Newark's Central Ward. In November 2006, as one of the last remaining tenants in Brick Towers, Booker left his apartment for the top unit in a three-story rental on Hawthorne Avenue in Newark's South Ward, an area described as "a drug-and gang-plagued neighborhood of boarded-up houses and empty lots". Brick Towers has since been demolished, and a new mixed-income development was built there in 2010.
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- Cory Booker official campaign website
- Mayor Cory Booker City of Newark biography
- City of Newark, NJ – Contact Information
- Newark Now website
- PBS series P.O.V. web site for Street Fight
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Profile at Ballotpedia
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
|Mayor of Newark
July 1, 2006–present