NJ Spotlight on Cities: Do We Have a Shared Urban Agenda?

Lee Keough | October 12, 2016 | Planning
Setting priorities for the Garden State’s beleaguered urban areas at Newark conference this Friday

Credit: NJTV News Online
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Does New Jersey need an urban policy agenda, one that targets the specific needs of our cities?

Many think that, in order to revive our urban areas, we need to make them a priority — and that we need strategies to address the problems of failing schools, crime, crumbling infrastructure, strained social services, and inadequate economic development. That’s why the need for an urban policy agenda will be a major theme of this year’s NJ Spotlight on Cities to be held this Friday, October 14 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Some of the question we hope the conference will address include: Is our school funding formula fair? Is our reliance on property taxes unfair to our cities? Should we have a statewide approach to poverty, to crime, to the urban infrastructure?

The morning’s keynote speakers, Gov. Thomas H. Kean and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, both of whom have been outspoken about the need for carefully considered urban policies, will talk about our past and present efforts to address these various needs.

Phil Murphy (D), candidate for governor
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), a candidate for governor
Later in the day, attendees will have a chance to participate in an interactive session that builds a New Jersey urban agenda, one that prioritizes what the state should be doing to improve our cities.

The conference’s last session will feature the candidates and potential candidates for governor in 2017 – including Democrats Phil Murphy, former ambassador to Germany; Thomas Byrne, former Democratic state chair and son of former Gov. Brendan Byrne; and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset), who has announced his candidacy on the GOP side, will also join the panel.

These candidates will be asked to articulate their visions for New Jersey cities and what they see as our priorities for the future. We will share with them, as well as with the audience, the results of recent poll questions and our interactive “Build a Plan.”

Attendees will be able to ask the candidates directly what they envision for the future of our cities, and what we need to do in order to realize those visions.

Tickets are still available.