By Joe Petrizzo
Newark Mayor Cory Booker will take the floor on March 12 in “An Evening with Hon. Cory Booker,” hosted by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. Booker was originally scheduled to appear in February, but the event was canceled because of a scheduling conflict, according to Rebovich Director Ben Dworkin.
Dubbed “Supermayor” by his supporters, Booker has grown to national prominence for his personal service to his constituents. During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he invited Newark citizens to his house via Twitter so they could charge their cell phones, warm up, eat, use the bathroom and watch DVDs. Time called him a superhero for rescuing a woman from a burning building and saving a dog from freezing to death in the most recent snowstorm. During the Snowpocalypse of 2010, Booker braved the icy roads of dangerous neighborhoods to deliver blankets and diapers to destitute families without heat or supplies.
Time has also crowned Booker the “Mayor of Twitter” because he tweets an average of 100 times per day. He’s known for his witty tweets. Once a man from Ireland asked if Booker could fix his city’s pothole problem and the mayor replied, “I’ve got 99 problems & your ditch ain’t one.”
An NJ.com poll revealed that 80% of respondents felt Booker tweeted too much.
“That is just the way things are done nowadays,” Dworkin said.
Booker has been criticized for appearing to be a flashy and popular politician and not doing anything other than sensational things to help the people of Newark. On March 5, Booker gave his State of the City address, in which he outlined all his accomplishments as mayor since taking office in 2006 and all that he hopes to get done before his term ends in 2014. He started with his tackling of corruption in Newark.
“I led our city in perhaps our least sexy but most important endeavor of my time as mayor — the hand-to-hand combat of a full-scale management turnaround,” Booker said.
In his speech, Booker said his efforts have led to the indictment of 19 city employees who were stealing taxpayer money. Since productivity of city employees has increased, $15 million has been saved in overtime pay for the police department alone. City departments have seen employee absences decrease dramatically.
Booker also addressed Newark’s crime problem and suggested that Newarkers could help reduce crime by assisting the city’s children.
“You want to fight crime?” Booker asked.“Read to a child. You want to fight crime? Support your local public school. You want to fight crime? Volunteer at an afterschool program because we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
“For 2013-14, Newark has over $1.5 billion of additional projects moving forward in the pipeline,” he said.
These projects include the new headquarters tower for Panasonic and a new building for the French pharmaceutical company Biotrial.
Booker has his eyes on a statewide prize in 2014. Earlier this year, he announced he would run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg.