Martin G. Barnes

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Martin G. "Marty" Barnes (March 15, 1948 – December 28, 2012) was an American Republican Party politician from Paterson, New Jersey. He served as Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey for five years. He was the first African-American mayor in Paterson's history.

Electoral history[edit]

Prior to his time as mayor, Barnes served as a City Councilman from Paterson's 3rd Ward and was first elected to the City Council in 1974. After being re-elected five times by his constituents, in 1997 Barnes was chosen by his colleagues to replace Bill Pascrell, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives, as mayor. Barnes won a special election to serve the remainder of Pascrell's term in November 1997 and then won a full four-year term in the city's May 1998 municipal elections.[1] He was the first Republican elected mayor by Paterson voters since Lawrence "Pat" Kramer was elected in 1978, although Paterson's elections are not conducted on a partisan basis.

Barnes ran for a second full term in the May 2002 municipal elections but lost decisively to Jose "Joey" Torres, who became Paterson's first Hispanic mayor with his win. Controversy surrounding Barnes' business dealings (see below) led to his defeat.

Controversy[edit]

Near the end of Barnes' term, he was included in a statewide investigation of corruption in several cities. The investigation led to an forty-count indictment of Barnes handed down by United States Attorney Chris Christie on January 25, 2002. In announcing the indictment, Christie cited,among other things, Barnes' forcing of contractors to pay for trips he took while mayor and providing "female companions" to accompany him. Barnes also was charged with extortion and graft, the latter due to his dealings with an Irvington, New Jersey paving contractor who had earned $16 million in city contracts.[2] It was largely through his dealings with this contractor, United Gunite, that the investigation into Barnes deepened, as the firm had been accused of paying bribes to many municipal officials statewide.[3]

Barnes initially denied the charges and promised to fight them vigorously, but his declarations of innocence fell largely on an apathetic voterbase and his support dwindled to the point where he was defeated in the general election by a significant margin. In July 2002, two months after Barnes' defeat, he entered into a plea bargain with the federal government which resulted in a 37-month prison sentence in 2003. Although he was admitting guilt, presiding Judge William Bassler did not believe that Barnes had taken full responsibility for his actions. Bassler specifically noted that Barnes' blamed his crimes on overwork and getting "caught up" in city politics, for his inability to see that what he was doing was wrong. In sentencing, Bassler said that Barnes had betrayed the trust of the citizens of Paterson, the city, and his family with his conduct.[3]

Death[edit]

On December 28, 2012, Barnes died in his Pennsylvania home he shared with his wife and son Gregory. He was 64 years old.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mayors of Paterson". Patersonpl.org. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  2. ^ "Corruption: Paterson mayor accused of graft". NJ.com. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  3. ^ a b "Former Mayor of Paterson Is Given 37 Months for Bribery". New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved 2011-09-29. Former Mayor Martin G. Barnes of Paterson was sentenced to 37 months in prison today on charges of taking $200,000 to $350,000 in bribes and gratuities from city contractors. During the sentencing, a federal judge expressed concern that Mr. Barnes failed to take responsibility for his actions even after pleading guilty. ... 
  4. ^ Clunn, Nick (28 December 2012). "Northjersey.com : Obituaries : Notable Obituaries Martin G. Barnes, Paterson's first black mayor, dies at 64". The Record. Retrieved 29 December 2012.