John Sharpe James to seek Newark council seat
March 17, 2012 by admin
NEWARK — The political wheels in Newark continued to turn today with John Sharpe James announcing his desire to fill Donald Payne Jr.’s At-large council seat, should Payne win his bid for Congress.
John Sharpe James, pictured in this 2010 file photo, will seek Donald Payne Jr.’s council seat if Payne goes to Congress.
James, the son of former Mayor Sharpe James, came in fifth in the 2010 race for four At-large council seats, when Newark returned all four incumbents to office. Today he said he should be considered to fill the seat if Payne leaves.
“As the 5th highest vote getter in the last Councilman At-large race, I officially wish to be appointed to the seat should it be vacated by Council President Payne,” James said in a statement.
A decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan, James attended Morehouse College and received his Juris Doctor from Rutgers-Newark. He said his primary focus would be on the city budget.
“Newark is facing a fiscal crisis with very little emphasis on reducing the budget’s structural deficit, current deficit or planning for future spending,” James said. “One shot budget fixes are insufficient to insure financial stability and increased taxes have a devastating effect on seniors and those on fixed income.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker has repeatedly said that he inherited a $180 million deficit from James’ father, Sharpe James. Since 2006, Booker officials say that deficit has been whittled down to roughly $60 million.
In 2010 John James ran on the Newark First team, which was deeply critical of the mayor’s administration. Booker is almost certainly going to seek an alternative to James.
“The mayor will take a keen interest in who fills Payne’s seat,” said Booker chief-of-staff Modia Butler.
Payne Jr. announced his candidacy Friday to fill his father’s 10th District Congressional seat. Payne Sr. died last Tuesday after a battle with colon cancer. Newark Councilman Ron Rice is also seeking Payne’s seat, throwing an otherwise sleepy year in local politics into overdrive.
If Payne Jr. wins he will have to vacate his council seat in January and the city council will have 30 days to vote for an interim council person. If the council is tied , Booker will cast the deciding vote. The city will then have to hold a special election to fill Payne’s seat