Why Newark’s working families aren’t with Jeffries

Most people following the Newark Mayor’s race heard last week’sbig newsthat one of Shavar Jeffries’ canvassers was arrested for allegedly starting a fire in the campaign bus of South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.

The report was devastating — but it wasn’t even the worst news the Jeffries campaign had to grapple with last week. That honor goes to a new poll released by the Working Families Organization, which found Jeffries badly trailing Baraka, 28 to 51. More than that, the poll found Jeffries was losing support because he’s on the wrong side of one of the key issues of the mayoral race: protecting public education.  

Christie-appointed Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan to close down public schools and replace them with charters has become a lightning rod in this campaign. Just last week you had a thousand Newark students walk outof school and take to the streets because their schools are under attack – and Ras Baraka was right there with them.

Voters see and respect Ras Baraka’s full-throated support of Newark public schools, but they have increasingly deep reservations about Jeffries’ cozy relationship with Wall Street investors and profiteers who support dismantling public education. As Working Families laid out in a recent advertisement, the Jeffries campaign is being bankrolled by the same corporate education reform profiteers that support Christie & Anderson’s plans for Newark schools.

In the latest fundraising quarter alone:

– 80 percent of Shavar Jeffries’ donations came from four wealthy families outside of Newark

– $26,000 came from the wife of a former Morgan Stanley Chairman

– $26,000 came from Baltimore Hedge Fund manager Mark Lerner, a longtime advocate of dismantling public schools

– Only 5 percent of Jeffries contributions came from small donors

But all that money can’t buy Shavar Jeffries a solid record on defending public schools — or the support of the Newark residents concerned about them.

Rob Duffey is Policy and Communications Coordinator for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, which has endorsed Ras Baraka for Mayor of Newark.

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