03.22.11

Cory Booker on Newark's Future: 'Watch Us Rise'

Newsweek asked its Facebook fans to send in questions for Newark Mayor Cory Booker. In videos, watch as the mayor talks social media, Newark's five-year plan, and how citizens can collectively lead a city's revitalization.

1. Booker on his Embrace of Twitter and Facebook

“Mayor Booker,” John S. Wilson writes, “you've been praised in Newsweek and other publications for using Twitter and other social media tools to help you do your job better. What led you to adapt these tools so easily and effectively?"

In his answer, the mayor says he got great advice from a number of people, including the actor Ashton Kutcher—“My staff thought I was being Punk’d." Booker has found it helps him connect with his constituents on a more personal basis, allowing them to see he’s more than a bureaucratic city hall official. "When you get to know somebody's heart, as well as their spirit and ideas," the mayor says, "I think that's when we can work together on a much better and stronger basis."

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2. Booker on Newark’s Next Schools Superintendent

Newark high school journalist Nathalia Trujillo asked if Booker would prefer a new superintendent like Michelle Rhee—“with a well-known name and established reputation”—and if so, why? Responding to the question, Booker says it shouldn’t be entirely up to him, and that he’s working to come up with a process by which many Newarkers can give feedback—but that he’d prefer someone who could get the job done.

“Don’t sit back on your tukhus and wait for change to happen.”

“I do prefer somebody that has experience,” he says. “I think taking a chance with somebody that doesn’t have a strong background in leadership and doing this actual job would be a little bit of a risk.” He adds, “We don’t have time to waste.” Of Michelle Rhee—“a friend of mine,” Booker calls her—he’s grown inspired by her “no nonsense vision for educational excellence and her willingness to do whatever it takes to make the school system better.”

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3. Booker on Paying It Forward

A reader asks what role residents can play as part of the city’s revitalization effort, and Booker’s response is one that can be easily repurposed for any community looking to lift itself out of a rut. The answer lies in the importance of mentorship.

“I’m always encouraging people to be mentors, to get involved in some sustentative way,” Booker says, whether that’s coaches, teachers, mentors. “Democracy is not a spectator sport. Don’t sit back on your tukhus and wait for change to happen. Get out there and make it happen. Whatever your passion is, get involved.”

“None of us got here because of our own doing, we all had tremendous support,” he concludes, “and we’ve got to pay that forward to the next generation.”

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4. Booker on the 'Newark of the Future'

Sandra Henriques, a “Believer in the future of Newark, NJ,” per her Twitter bio, asks Booker how he envisions Newark in the next five years. Will there be a marina? A nightlife? Parks?

Booker answers enthusiastically, saying a massive transformation is on the way—from parks on the waterfront to more supermarkets, locally grown businesses, and “a city that is not only livable, but a destination choice for people from all around the globe.”

“That’s the Newark of the future,” Booker says, “watch us rise.”

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To see all the questions submitted to Mayor Cory Booker, and have a chance to contribute to Facebook Q&A’s in the future, like Newsweek and The Daily Beast on Facebook.

Brian Ries is tech and social media editor at The Daily Beast. He lives in Brooklyn.