Q. Why run for mayor?
A. I am the person I am today because of the love and support of my family, neighbors and teachers in Newark. I want to give back to the city that has given me so much. Unfortunately today, crime has wreaked havoc on Newark. I remember when I was a kid, we used to look forward to the summer all winter long. It was the time when communities came alive…when on the weekends and in the evenings across this city people met outside, enjoyed the company of their neighbors and encouraged one another. Life — or at least the best parts of it — happened outside. That’s how I remember Newark, but today, we see a different reality. I want to be Mayor to pursue a sacred mission: To end the era of Newark being defined by violence and begin an era of Newark being defined by opportunity, for every child and every person who calls this city home.
Q. What do you believe is the most important issue facing Newarkers?
A. I’ve been knocking on doors and speaking with residents about my quest to be mayor for almost two years. By and large, their main issue is crime. My wife, Tenagne and I own a home in the South Ward of Newark where murders have increased by 70 percent in the last three years. We are raising our two beautiful children there. Their safety and future means so much to me. That’s why I’m running for mayor. I want to make sure all of Newark’s children have safe streets to grow up on. But this isn’t something new for me. As the third highest ranking state assistant attorney general for the State of New Jersey under Gov. Jon Corzine; president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark; a civil rights lawyers or president of the public school board, I’ve dedicated my life to fighting so that every child gets the chance that I got – and the chance they deserve.
Q. When you aren’t trying to win the war on crime, what do you do for fun?
A. I love to just play with my children (Kaleb is 9; Naomi is 7). Kaleb loves sports so we toss around the football or watch basketball games together. Noami is a character. She writes her own stories and then reads them to me…or she likes me to make up a story and tell it to her. She’s really a one-woman show all by herself at such a young age. My wife and I like to take in a movie, go to a quiet dinner or enjoy a concert. She’s my best friend. Sometimes I just like sitting at home and reading a book. I haven’t been able to do that in a long time.
Q. What’s your favorite song?
A. I have lots of songs that I like, but I generally enjoy music in terms of lyrics and verse. I’m a child of the 80s so I enjoy old school rap…Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy…verses from those artists. But my all-time favorite is Nas’ verse in “Verbal Intercourse.” To date, I haven’t heard another verse so skillful and deep. I also respect Illmatic by Nas and can have an intellectual conversation about that CD for hours. I used to be able to rip 16 bars..but I’m dating myself.