Politics Research

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Political Science ・MLA ・8 Sources

Newark is controlled by a nine-member city council that operates in accordance with the Optional Municipal Charter Law Act, which is part of the Mayor-Council local government system that has been in place since the referendum's adoption in 1954. The council members are elected on a non-partisan basis during regular municipal elections or in the general election held every four years. Each of the five wards elects a representative, and the remaining four are chosen by the entire city (Jindrich 157).
Above the council is the mayor, who serves as the city's general head.Currently, Newark is under the leadership of Mayor Ras Baraka, whose term expires on June 30, 2018. Luis A. Quintana, the first Latino Newark mayor, served in an acting capacity between October 31, 2013, and November 4, 2013, when he was officially sworn in. Luis was preceded by Cory Booker, who untimely resigned to become a junior senator in the US. During May 13, 2014, Newark mayoral election, Baraka won to become the 40th Newark mayor in history. The city is democratic, leaning with its senate and congressional leaders Democrats.

Just like Newark, Santa Cruz is led by a mayor and a city council. The city's political growth has been hindered over the years by the rise of activists who seemed to oppose everything they disliked. The city's politics can be attributed in part to the student activism in the UCSC with the introduction of freedom to vote for people aged 18. These students were liberal activists and could shift voting patterns to suit their preferences, however noble the political and economic decisions made for the city. Also, they produced leaders as some joined active politics; two became Santa Cruz mayors. Environmental activism informed voting decisions among the students and locals (Domhoff and Gendron n.p).

In 1979, the activists joined together to elect two of their own into the city council. Two others were elected in 1981. These politicians were left-leaning Democratic members. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of a progressive wave. This was a group of activists and students who challenged the conventional political leadership and took the mantle to lead. The mayoral elections and those of council members are held after every four years. Its senators and members of Congress are all from the Democratic Party.

Public Schools

Newark is faced with problems of high school enrolment. About 16% of its residents aged above twenty-five years skipped high school; an almost similar number did not graduate while about 68% graduated. A mere 12% had a bachelor's degree. The city has a public schools board, Newark Public Schools Board of Education (BOE), made of nine elected representatives. The committee serves for three years. The members represent various parts of the city as well as different professional qualifications. For members to be considered for election, they have to be proposed by council members and the mayor as seen this year. Such polls often attract low voter turnout. The board is an advisory body to the city council and considers decisions pertinent to schools (Jindrich 160).

Santa Cruz is home to some popular public schools offering quality education to the city public. The schools under the city council government are under the tutelage of a public school board. The seven-member board of education serves for four years after which they are replaced by an election. Furthermore, the committee meets twice a month on Wednesdays. The current board's term expires in 2018.


Newark is arguably one of the most dangerous cities in the US. If past studies and criminal activities are anything to go by, then the city is faced with a significant security challenge. Although the number of homicides reported has been dropping over the years before rising again, the occurrence of even one case is unfortunate enough for such a city. Other crimes such as car-jacking are on the rise. More illegally owned firearms have been recovered by the police in the recent past. It seems like murders, gun violence and homicides are the order of the day for Newark City police department. Ranked at number six among the most dangerous US cities, things could not be any worse for Newark regarding crime.
On the other hand, Santa Cruz is also faced with crime and insecurity. It boasts of having both the highest property crime and most violent crimes in the US. With 3.5% of its population homeless, the city is faced with yet another criminal problem of addiction to drugs. Public safety and control of crime is a significant policy issue faced by the city council and the residents as well (Domhoff and Gendron n.p).


The primary law enforcement in Newark is the Newark Police Department that is owned by the city. The police force boasts of over one thousand officers in its service. Other security operators in the town include Essex County Sheriff's Office, New Jersey Transit Police Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Departments. The New Jersey State Police also offers patrol services in the city. There are police officers working in the city universities and colleges such as Essex County College Police Department, New Jersey Institute of Technology Police Department and Rutgers University Police Department. These parties primarily promote safety and security of the city inhabitants. In Santa Cruz, Police Department is the most critical police force supporting law and order. Through the toll-free number 911, the public can make emergency calls to the department and receive help.

Fire Department

Newark city is served by a dedicated group of about seven hundred fully employed and paid firefighters. The Newark Fire Department (NFD) has sixteen firehouses spread across the city from where they operate. The crew is divided into three battalions each under the deputy chief. All the forces are available for twenty-four hours throughout the week. The fire department is efficiently organized with diversification into all sorts of rescue missions in air, water and fire extinguishing engines.

On the other hand, the UC Santa Cruz Fire Department is mandated with the protection of life and property against fire as well as rescue missions. Primarily, the department just like that of Newark, responds to emergencies, participates in developing fire protection mechanisms in construction, prevents fire, educates the public and prepares for unmitigated disasters. The department is fully equipped to handle fire outbreaks across the city offering service 24/7. Other private fire departments also help in mitigation of fires in the city. It emphasizes on the protection of the city from fires, marine accidents and medical emergencies; pledging to offer only the best.


The Newark Housing Authority is responsible for control of housing establishments in the city. The agency aims at promotion of affordable house built by the residents of the town having been empowered. Thus, it encourages economic growth and independence among the city residents. It has over eight thousand housing units in the city with forty-four housing communities. The public housing complex provides many city residents with a glimmer of hope for being housed. New units are being constructed on a regular basis to meet the national demand. However, just like many other cities in the US, Newark also experiences housing shortages, this continues with an increase in demography. Affordability of housing units is a problem the residents have to contend with (O'Dea).

For Santa Cruz, the housing problem is acute despite the government's efforts. Only recognizing 8% percent of housing units, the government imposes high taxes to remaining 92% to compensate for those excluded. The tendency has the demerit of making housing unaffordable to quite some renters in the city. The city political leadership seems hell-bent on frustrating the residents' a bid for affordable housing. Homelessness and the housing crisis are real in Santa Cruz. The rents charged for housing units are higher than wages paid. The city is recovering slowly from an economic depression in 2009. People have to juggle between various jobs to make ends meet and also afford to house. Additionally, the number of housing construction licenses being issued by the city council is lower than the demand, only 499 in 2016 (Gumz). There is an urgent need for affordable housing as it is in Santa Cruz.


On average, about a hundred thousand of Newark's residents are employed in the white collar sector. They go to work daily in insurance companies, finance, health sector and the government. Over a thousand law firms are employing many people in the city. It is also a transportation city complete with vast investments in the airports, marine port and railway transport. The city can also be said to be more industrial with a heavy presence of industries. The previous governments, especially since Cory Booker's election, initiated a public-private partnership geared at creating investments in Downtown as a way to deal with unemployment. The economic problem of unemployment has not been lost on the city. However, the city is still faced with unmitigated high rates of unemployment. From the 2010 statistics, about a third of the city residents are poor.

Newark's significant industries would not be without mention of insurance. As the third largest insurance centre in the whole of US, Newark is home to Prudential Financial, Mutual Benefit Life, Fireman's Insurance and American Insurance Company, all significant entities. The city also has other industries represented by big companies such as IDT Corporation Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey and NJ Transit. In 2013, Panasonic moved its headquarters to the city. Upmarket food stores have also been opened to alleviate food shortages experienced in the past.

In the case of Santa Cruz, the bulk of its economy is concentrated in tourism, agriculture, high-tech and education. In agriculture, the city is a home to organic farming, being home to California Certified Organic Farmers Association. The major tourist attraction centers are Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk beach, the Redwood forest in Santa Cruz Mountains and the Monterey Bay. The topmost employer in the city is the University of California at Santa Cruz followed by the county and city governments. The agriculture, tourism and high technology firms also employ more people. The unemployment rate was estimated at 5.6% in 2015; rate is higher than that of the entire US. The economy is on course towards recovery has suffered a significant crisis in 2009; it is projected to grow in the future.

Challenges to Development

In the case of Newark, corruption in the city council has hampered progress. Only one mayor, Cory Booker, has not been involved in corruption scandals in the city's history. Additionally, political activists have hindered development by opposing every initiative they did not like. Environmental activists and university students are mainly to blame for the derailment of the city's growth since the 1970s. The economic development policies have not been any good either.

Development challenges also mar Santa Cruz through the entire economy. However, most blames goes to the economic crisis the city went through sometimes back. The difficulties experienced in housing, water supply, infrastructural development and human resources development must be addressed. The city faces the acute water problems, something that should not even exist in this century especially in America. Although chances of another recession occurring soon are minimal, it does not mean that the people are not suffering already (Guzman).

Works Cited

Domhoff, G. William and Richard Gendron. The Leftmost City: Power and Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz: Avalon Publishing, 2008.

Gumz, Jondi. Housing crisis puts Santa Cruz County renters in distress. 26 August 2017

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20170826/news/170829733>. Accessed 16 December 2017.

Guzman, Kara Meyberg. Economist forecasts continued growth for Santa Cruz County. 30 June 2016.

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20160630/NEWS/160639971>. Accessed 16 December 2017.

Jindrich, Jason. "Suburbs in the City: Reassessing the Location of Nineteenth-Century American Working-Class Suburbs." Social Science History, 36. 2 (2011): 147-167.

Colleen. Shortage of affordable housing explored at NJ spotlight on cities. 20 October 2016.

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/10/19/chronic-shortage-of-affordable-housing-explored-at-nj-spotlight-on-cities/>. Accessed 16 December 2017.

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