Mayor Ras Baraka’s slate in four contested council races is having a mixed night; Central Ward Councilwoman LaMonica McIver won outright, but two of Baraka’s endorsees will likely face runoffs and a third came in dead last in his race. Baraka himself turned back lone challenger Sheila Montague by a landslide margin in the mayoral race.
In the East Ward, Baraka slate member Louis Weber is far behind his two main opponents, both of whom are – like Weber – retired Portuguese American police officers.
Michael Silva, the choice of retiring incumbent Augusto Amador and Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark), narrowly leads 2018 candidate Anthony Campos 36-34%, which will trigger a runoff election in June. A relatively unheralded candidate, Jonathan Seabra, is in third with 16% of the vote, and Weber has just 14%.
The East Ward race was probably the most watched council race in the city, especially after it was revealed that Weber was accused of sexual assault in 2009 and had an unusually high number of use-of-force incidents while he was a police officer.
Baraka’s choice in the West Ward, rapper and 2018 candidate Dupré Kelly, is headed to a runoff against attorney Chigozie Onyema. Kelly has 38% of the vote to Onyema’s 30%; former South Ward Councilman Oscar James is in third at 13%. Lyndon Brown, Lavita Johnson, and Michelle Lyn Middleton all got 10% of the vote or less in the contest to succeed disgraced Councilman Joseph McCallum.
And on Baraka’s home turf in the South Ward, left open by retiring Councilman John Sharpe James, South Ward Democratic chair and Baraka ally Pat Council is far ahead, but it’s looking like he’ll also have to deal with a runoff. Council has 46% of the vote to second-place finisher Terrance Bankston’s 18%, with 268 provisional ballots and an unknown number of vote-by-mail ballots outstanding.
Four other candidates in the South Ward – Trenton Jones, Christina Cherry, Douglas Freeman, and Cynthia Truitt-Rease – got 16%, 10%, 7%, and 4%, respectively.
McIver, meanwhile, easily turned back challenger Shawn McCray in the Central Ward 65-35%. The two previously ran against each other in 2018, with McIver winning a runoff election 56-43%.
Regardless of how the still-undetermined East, West, and South Ward races shake out, Baraka’s allies will make up a majority of the nine-member council no matter what. All four of Baraka’s endorsed candidates for at-large council seats won unopposed, as did North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.