NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Residents of New Jersey’s largest city and its capital city will elect new mayors to take over from interim leaders who served out the terms of incumbents.
Mayoral races in Trenton and Newark top the list of contests around the state on Tuesday. Paterson, Bayonne, Long Branch and Ocean City are among other cities also holding elections.
The polls opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. throughout the state.
Voters in Newark will choose between City Councilman Ras Baraka and former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. The winner will take the seat held by Cory Booker, who served from 2006 until he stepped down last year to run successfully for U.S. Senate.
The race has featured an expensive television advertising war in recent weeks. Baraka, 44, son of the late poet Amiri Baraka, has the support of the labor-connected New Jersey Working Families organization, which has paid for ads that accuse Jeffries of being a pawn of moneyed outside interests.
A crowd of supporters cheered as Baraka cast his vote Tuesday. He emerged from the voting booth and said, “Victory.”
Jeffries, 39, a former Newark school board president who is now a law professor at Seton Hall University, has the support of the independent Newark First organization. His ads have accused Baraka of voting to increase his pay while laying off police in Newark, where murders spiked to a 10-year high last year.
Jeffries arrived at the polling place with his wife and their two children. His 9-year-old son asked if it would be OK to skip school. Jeffries said that was not an option.
In Trenton, six candidates are vying to replace Tony Mack, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February and is due to be sentenced this week. Mack refused to leave office for nearly three weeks until a judge’s order forced him out, and he was succeeded by City Council President George Muschal, who is not running.
Trenton’s candidates are James Golden, a former Philadelphia police officer; Eric Jackson, a former Trenton director of public works; Oliver “Bucky” Leggett, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor; City Council member Kathy McBride; Paul Perez, an Army veteran and security consultant; and Walker Worthy, the Mercer County deputy clerk.
If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two will enter a runoff.
State monitors will be on hand in some locations in an effort to ensure fair elections.
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