The legendary political machine in Newark’s North Ward continues to play an outsized role in city elections, including this week’s contested race for three seats on the Newark Board of Education.
The Moving Newark Forward slate of candidates backed by mayor Ras Baraka, Senate President Pro-Tempore Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) and North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos won the three school board seats in a landslide. In the North Ward, the margin was around 14-1.
The numbers are evidence of the political skills of Ramos and North Ward Democratic chairman Sammy Gonzalez, who played a key role in turnout out voters in the school election.
The North Ward produced the highest voter turnout in the city. In a field of eleven candidates, the three Moving Newark Forward candidates were closely clustered together, with just 126 votes separating the top vote-getter, incumbent Tave Padilla, from the third place finisher, Shayvonne Anderson.
Padilla received 1,549 votes, followed by A’Dorian Murray-Thomas (1,505) and Shayvonne Anderson (1,423). The next highest vote total of the other eight candidates in the North Ward was Leah Owens, who received 164 votes.
The vote totals in the recent school board election were consistent with other recent elections in Newark. In the May 2018 municipal elections, the North Ward gave Baraka 80.3%, the mayor’s highest ward percentage in his re-election campaign.
This is the organization originally founded by the venerable Steve Adubato, Sr. at a time when the North Ward was mostly Italian-American. Over the last 40 years, the machine has transitioned to a constituency with a Hispanic majority without missing a beat.
With Adubato now retired, the North Ward machine is now run by Ramos, Gonzalez, and Phil Alagia, the chief of staff to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.