Redditors! Had a great time answering your questions during my first AMA and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation. I’ll start answering questions at 7pm ET. Also, I plan on answering some of your questions in video which you can watch by following my wire. Ask me anything!

Here is proof

UPDATE: I'm answering some questions in video -- will post these in the thread and below:

Cory Booker on the Stability of Newark

Cory Booker Reacts to Baby Sloths

Cory Booker Tells You Where to Eat in Newark

Cory Booker Responds to Reddit #DuckProblems

Cory Booker On Harriet Tubman's Influence

UPDATE: Wrapping up after a little over 4 hours...thank you for all of your questions! I'll revisit the thread later on and answer a couple more.

Comments: 1115 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

newark_throwaway473 karma

Hey Mayor Booker,

In your last IAmA, I asked the 2nd most upvoted question, which got 881 points, but it seems that you refused to answer it. A lot of redditors seemed to also want an answer, so I'll repost a paraphrased version of it here, for your convenience. See below. Redditors, click the link for added commentary by other Newark students.

Link to my original post:

I'm probably one of the very few redditors who has actually dealt with Newark first hand, being a CEO of a Newark-based startup, and an NJIT Alumni (B.Eng, M.Eng).

  • Why are drugs still being openly sold downtown, on the corner of Broad and Market (especially during rush hour)?
  • Why does it take 2+ hours for Newark police to respond to 911 calls in the Broadway section?
  • Why are NJIT students constantly getting mugged, with Newark/NJIT police too busy "ticketing students" to do real patrols? (Patrol the damn subways, that's where all the muggings happen!).

(I'm using a throwaway, because of fear of Newark political retaliation, which is all too common these days. The last thing I need is for a city official to close me down)

corybooker759 karma

You’re not alone in expressing this concern – I’ve heard it from others and really appreciate the students over the last month that have reached out to me over social media, my office, emails etc - many of the students haven't just asked for help or criticized but also offered help. For that, I'm grateful.

Our police department has been working around the clock to identify specific problems affecting the university and downtown areas and has made great progress. Allow me to first put this question in context. Since 2006 murders citywide are down 17%. Shooting incidents are down 27%. Rape is down 38%. Aggravated assault is down 12%. Auto theft is down 26%. Is it enough? Absolutely not. But this is progress that has meant thousnads and thousands of fewer victims of crime in our city. We’ve done this with fewer resources, as we’ve shared in the pain of the recession and subsequent budget cuts that have faced communities across the country.

So what has NPD done to address your specific NJIT and downtown area concerns? Over the past few months our police leadership and staff from my office sat with every university police department chiefs and members of their teams. We have determined how to better work together and share critical crime information. Just last month I brought my Police Director, Police Chief and other brass to sit with the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor and his team. We now share data that has never been shared before and do so on a weekly basis. We are engaged in a variety of interagency operations, including a joint NJIT Police, NJ Transit Police, and NPD undercover taskforce that has focused on the subway issues you mentioned. Since the launch of this initiative we have taken four teams of juveniles doing repeated robberies off of the streets (note, also, that most of these robberies you’re referring to are robberies of iphones from pedestrians). We opened the first ever downtown precinct less than 200 feet from the corner of broad and market that also covers the university area. Crime in the area covered has dropped 18% in its first quarter of operations. This statistic reflects a timeframe that precedes new investments in the precinct which include a plain clothed unit which will do even more to confront any remaining drug dealing.

Your police response time comment also needs context. We have a 90 second ceiling for calls received to dispatch of a police unit for any “priority seven” crime (a violent – broadly defined – crime in progress). There are instances where cell phone calls go to the state police or a neighboring municipal dispatch center, and then must be transferred which causes a delay. We simply can’t control that and it’s an issue around the country. That said, once a unit receives that sub 90 second dispatch, it depends where in the precinct they are, but it typically takes less than five minutes for them to arrive on scene. This is all part of a highly sophisticated and computerized prioritization process that assures that units don’t respond to calls in the order they’re received, but rather respond based upon need. We monitor these times weekly and quickly identify any failures to meet standards. Taking a report for a crime that has already happened is important, but we, like most cities in this country that are facing diminished police resources, have to send our police where they’re needed most, when they’re needed most. Is it highly inconvenient and frustrating for someone waiting for a police car to report a theft? Understandably so. Does it happen much less often than you imply? yes. Also note that we’ve even gone so far as to create phone and web reporting systems to unclog our dispatch queue of calls for which an officer response might not be needed (noise complaint, etc.). This has and will continue to drive down response times for non-priority calls and offers a alternative reporting method for people who don’t want to wait for officers to respond to non-emergencies.

Finally, in the next month or so I hope to schedule community meetings with students at Rutgers and possibly at NJIT too before the semester ends. I'd love to not only discuss safety issues but also many of the issues going on in Newark. Our city is going through a dynamic period of change and improvement and the student population is critical to our progress. To find out about those meetings follow me on twitter, facebook and/or waywire.

Jethuth_Chritht276 karma

Would you ever consider a campaign for President in 2016 or beyond?

corybooker1530 karma

Yes! Unequivocally I would consider running for President of the New Jersey Star Trek Club in 2016. I have been a lifelong Trekker and to run for such an important position would be the fulfillment of a childhood dream - up there with defending the Earth from The Borg. . . Now if you were talking about President of the United States. . . please. 44 people have held that position in the history of our country. We need to stop looking at that as the be all and end all of elected service. This country needs more people that focus on where they are and the urgent call to service before us. In fact, if we were to be honest, were do we need greater leaders right now - the White House or Congress. I believe Congress. I hope to join that great body and am strongly considering a run to do just that. My focus and passion right now has more to do with serving Newark in 2013 than anything happening in 2016. Oh and "Boldly Go for Booker For Enterprise Captain 2016!"

Dr_Medic345159 karma

Now, who is your favorite Captain?

corybooker808 karma

Jean-Luc Picard

  1. he's clearly the most captain-like of all the captains

  2. he has the best haircut of all the captains in the Universe

HobbitFoot339 karma

I sense some folical favoritism.

corybooker498 karma

it's not just follicle favoritism -- it's hair hate

DrMcIntire135 karma

Hi Mayor Booker!

I would like to know what you consider an essential characteristic of a leader in the 21st century.

Thanks for all your work, and all the best for any future aspirations.

corybooker296 karma

Wow, thoughtful question. Two things come to mind immediately, Authenticity and Courage. I want leaders who are courageous, who are willing to tell the truth even if it means that it might hurt their electability; who everyday fight the good fight and even amidst discouragement, frustration, or even loss, get up the next day and courageously fight, advocate and lead through action. Without courage, it is hard to manifest any other virtue with consistency.

Finally, I think leaders should not be about conformity to what others might want but they should be fearlessly loyal to their own ideals, principles and values. This doesn't mean that they don't compromise, grow, or change views but that they stay truthful to themselves. I crave authenticity from my leaders, co-workers and friends. I think it was Lincoln who said something like: "Everyone is born an original but sadly most die copies." This world needs originals.

tmag14132 karma

As someone who works in, and knows, NJ politics, you a very likely going to be US Senator in a few years. Once in the Senate, what will you do to end the drug war?

corybooker359 karma

The drug war is an absolute failure. It is consuming gross amounts of our national treasure and destroying the lives of millions of people that could, with the right policy, be far more productive in our society. More than this, it is a strong contributor to the continuance of cycles of poverty and the further frustration of existing gross racial disparities. I am outraged by this reality and have and will dedicate much of my time and energy to helping our nation get out of this trap that is adversely affecting all of us.

How many more tax dollars will we sink into this travesty? How many more potentially productive lives will we allow to be destroyed? We have done many things in Newark to try to address this issue and have had good successes - but ultimately they are islands of excellence amidst a sea of failure. I am very motivated to become a United States Senator to work on these issues, joining the voices already doing so. I do wish more people on the Federal level would speak up forming a chorus of compassion and conviction for constructive reform. If elected I will be a loud and relentless voice for change and pragmatic policies that empower people and save tax dollars. If you are interested in my views on this issue, PLEASE, PLEASE READ MY POST FROM MY LAST AMA ON THIS ISSUE also copied below:

The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential. I see the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars being poured into the criminal justice system here in New Jersey and it represents big overgrown government at its worst. We should be investing dollars in programs and strategies that work not just to lower crime but work to empower lives.

It anguishes me how we seem to be so content with national and state recidivism rates of around 60% and how a staggering number of young black men are involved in the criminal justice system.

My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle.

And it is a dangerous world for people caught up in the drug trade for it is so associated with violence. Data from Rutgers University is chilling: Over 80% of Newark's murder VICTIMS have been arrested before an average of 10 times.

I could go on but you asked about solutions and not about me reciting the problem.

Newark has attacked this problem in numerous ways:

Reentry. We developed the state's first office of reentry, raised philanthropy and other grant dollars to support it and have some impressive data. Our office has connected well over 1,000 men and women with work and a number of our programs are producing some great results. One I will mention here is our Fatherhood program. The recidivism rate for this program has dropped among participants from over 60% for nonparticipants to 7% for participants. This one program has saved NJ taxpayers millions and actually helped contribute to our treasury because these folks are paying taxes and supporting their families. A little more about this program. Instead of condemning men for not being good fathers and preaching to them about how they should take care of their kids, this program looks to empower them in their fatherhood mission. The men are partnered with mentor dads, there are parenting classes, group activities with their kids and a partnership is created with the mother of the children. The men are helped with finding jobs and even with suits and more for interviews and work. All of this is so much cheaper than continued incarceration and it empowers participants (mostly black and latino) breaking the cycle of imprisonment. The challenge is funding . . . I work to raise money for it every year. Shouldn't we be investing in programs like these instead of pouring more and more dollars into programs that fail to achieve societal goals, perpetuate racial disparities and bleed countless tax dollars?

Court reform . . . I discussed this in another answer but by having youth courts, veterans courts, drug courts and more, we are finding that we can empower people to stay out of jail and turn their lives around as opposed to get chewed up in the system. Court innovation is critical and Newark is leading the way in New Jersey thanks to great partners like The Center For Court Innovation in NYC.

Jobs. It is so critical that we find ways to rapidly attach people to work when they come out of prison even if they are minimum wage transition jobs. Newark has done a lot in this area. I'm particularly proud of our Clean and Green program taking men and women right from returning from prison and giving them jobs helping to clean and green our city.

Treatment. This is critical. Our state is just recently stepping up to expand treatment and make it a mandatory alternative to incarceration. In Newark we have some great treatment options but they too need more funding. Treatment saves taxpayer dollars, empowers individuals, stops recidivism, heals families and helps us all.

Legal Help. Our nation's legal service and advocacy organizations are starving and so many people are getting chewed up by the criminal justice system just because they are poor and lack legal support. Newark New Jersey started our nations first ever pro bono legal service practice to support people coming home from prison. You would be amazed at the number of people who come out of prison, want to get a job and try to do the right thing but then their lives are entangled by countless legal problems and barriers that could be overcome with with some administrative legal support. Our program: Reentry Legal Service (ReLeSe), has given tremendous support to hundreds and hundreds of men and women coming home from prison, has helped them get ID, deal with outstanding warrants, expunge records and much more. And again, this program has saved taxpayer dollars by helping to liberate people from the cycle of recidivism.

There is much more I can list in terms of things happening in Newark that point to solutions (I say "point to" because all of the things above are too small to deal with the thousand or more people that come home from prison each year in Newark and are supported by non-reoccurring grants and philanthropy - not sustainable streams of resources). But for my final point let me invoke the great Frederick Douglass.

Douglass says; "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men." So much of this problem could be solved by strong education systems and other systems of support for our children before they get in trouble. So let me offer this as a final action item to heal our nation, end many insidious racial divisions and exalt our country's highest ideals. Mentoring. It takes 4 hours a month to mentor a child, the amount of time most watch TV in a day. There are hundreds of kids in Newark on waiting lists for a mentor: a positive adult in their lives who cares. Mentoring has demonstrated a profound ability to dramatically lower incarceration for youth and even lower early unsafe sex practices. And it has shown to boost youth outcomes from self-esteem to dramatically increasing school performance. EVERYONE who is qualified should be mentoring a child who is not their own OR encouraging others to do so OR supporting mentoring organizations. If every so-called "at risk" kid in Newark had a mentor we could dramatically end future crime in our city. So please advocate for policy changes, challenge our current system, fight for change but before you point fingers at all the things that aren't being done by others, look in the mirror at your self and ask could I be doing more for our kids.

In the end BIG changes are made most by small acts of kindness, decency, love and service.

edsurge101109 karma

Hi there! What's the biggest win in education that you've had in Newark since you've been mayor? Is Zuckerberg's $ making a difference for students & teachers?

corybooker191 karma

I'd love to get into some specific policy victories AND please check out the website documenting the strategies in which we have invested the philanthropy.

But I would say the biggest win is that we have put education at the center of our policy and community agenda. I've seen more debate, discussion, collaboration, investment, philanthropy, passion, change, and movement around education in the last few years than in the previous ten. We don't have unanimity of ideas in Newark but everyone is far more focused and involved in education than before I was mayor.

There is no greater call for a community than to secure pathways for success for its children. There is no greater imperative for our country than to ensure that all of our kids - no matter what their background - have an abundant opportunity to develop their genius, gifts and dreams. Our democracy is dependent upon a robust and excellent educational system.

I am so proud that we have significantly increased the number of high performing seats available to Newark kids by expanding high performing magnet schools, charter schools, and opening new public school models. Further, I am proud that we are not tolerating the long term enduring failures of individual schools who are not serving the genius of our kids and have had the courage to close low performing, low enrollment schools that were failing at unacceptable rates. But your question was what was the biggest education win . . .

I'd say the it was pulling everyone together and getting a new teacher's contract passed and accepted. From the unions to our republican governor, everyone came together and agreed that we would have a contract that focused on empowering teachers, thorough support in professional development, substantive peer review, and specific financial incentives for teachers that accept more significant challenges or who perform at high standards. Please find out more about Newark's advanced teacher's contract. It is a model for the country. And affirms what I believe is so important: Our teachers are the most important factor in a school that will affect student performance. We must support them, empower them, help them develop in their profession, give them more compensation and ultimately hold them accountable for results through a fair evaluation system.

Finally, remember, while teachers are the most important in school determinant of student success THE most important determining factor of a student's success is what happens at home and in the community. We have done some substantive things to work on this issue. One of the innovative ones I'm proud of is a program called "My Very Own Library" - that will by the end of this year help almost half of our grade school students have 10 or more books of their own choosing to own at home. This is part of a larger literacy effort going on in our city. Please read about that too on the same site.

babyslothspictures101 karma

Hey Mr. Mayor! First off I'm a huge fan. My question is if you win the senate election would you be worried about Newark since a new person would be mayor?

corybooker126 karma

thanks for your question babyslothpictures! here's my response.

tmag1486 karma

How has your relationship with Governor Christie helped you? How has it hurt you?

Edit: sp

corybooker303 karma

It is not about me. It is about Newark. My relationship with the governor has helped our city. The fact that, across party lines, the governor and I have found substantive areas where we could work together - on education issues, economic development, budget issues, etc - has done nothing but help our city. This does not mean that I agree with the governor across the board - in fact we have many disagreements. On everything from marriage equality to his cutting of the Earned Income Tax Credit, there are so many areas we disagree. But I can't let our disagreements erode our ability to join together on common ground and make progress. To that end, I am grateful to the governor for joining me in putting aside partisanship, our policy disagreements and even our own politics and being a real partner in our spaces of agreement.

But you did ask about me. . . I have taken criticism for my relationship with the governor and even for doing one spoof video with him. But I stand by all of it. Frankly, I am a bit exhausted by the partisan nature of our nation and the mistaken belief that we can't be fierce advocates for important issues and not be civil to one another . . . even friends with one another. We are losing something if we can't even show kindness to each other, can't laugh with each other, can't bond or connect across our disagreements. In the end, we have so much more in common than that which separates us - this country can only rise if we see our common spaces as a foundation upon which to build a better America.

GrundReport83 karma

How do I get a job working on your Senate campaign??

corybooker115 karma

I have not officially started my campaign for the 2014 Senate race yet. But in this early exploratory stage we are slowly bringing on staff. The best thing to do now is to register at if you want to volunteer, donate or even eventually work for the campaign. I hope in the months ahead to have more formal leadership on board that can take resumes for staff jobs, organize volunteers and begin to lead more formal efforts should the campaign kick off. So please register and in the months ahead don't hesitate to reach back out to our campaign offices. Thanks so much!

nabrotastic69 karma

Since you have an undying love for Ben and Jerry's, if you had the opportunity to create your own ice cream flavor what would it consist of and what would you call it?

corybooker237 karma

I do have an outrageous love for Ben and Jerry's - And I confess it is a bit of an ego-laden dream to have a flavor name inspired by me. But call Ben and Jerry's a guilty pleasure and a flavor name an unholy desire - so here goes.

I credit my twitter following for helping me here. I got many great suggestions for flavors and flavor names from people and this is now my favorite crowd sourced flavor:

Dough Unto Others: Cookie Dough, Coffee Ice Cream, Cake Batter Ice Cream, with swirls of creamy peanut butter (cause this whole thing is a little nuts).

Frajer62 karma

Mayor Booker you are so great at tweeting, do you feel social media is integral to politics today? PS can you fix a pothole here?

corybooker163 karma

Thanks so much for the compliment on my tweeting. It is such a powerful tool for connecting/serving/interacting and learning.

I think we are only at the beginning of seeing the impact of social media in politics. Frankly, I hope and believe that social media can be a constructively disruptive force in politics. The last decade many people have been talking about "E-Government" but we need to move to "We-Government." The spirit and practice of social media and technology today is really about bucking the hierarchical, top down, inside out paradigm and moving toward the collaborative, cooperative, interdependent model. In social media and the world of technology people work together, there is "open source", there are feedback loops, transparency, data is free and available, and people build and contribute on common platforms and we all benefit. Government needs to catch up to that. It needs to be more interactive, more open and more accessible to community contributions in real time.

So many people have come to see politics as a spectator sport. We relegate ourselves to cheering for our side - to giving color commentary on what is happening. We divorce ourselves from the process and hope that "those people" down in Washington fix things. Well the reality is there exists powerful, potentially limitless wisdom, experience, knowledge, ingenuity and creativity in our Nation. That deep well of resources needs to be a part of the process, and government needs to have a real partnership with people. Right now I don't think we are anywhere near where we need to be in creating that partnership.

So yes, social media is a beginning. I hope government and elected leaders don't use social media just as an announcement system - telling the world what they are doing - but instead as an engagement system, a system to foster collaboration, transparency, and substantive partnership. But this is just a beginning. Ultimately we need to get our politics and government away from left/right, zero sum game governance and begin to realize the multiplier effect that comes from government that really is a space where we all are engaged, active and invested in forming and fostering a better nation where we all win.

As for your pothole . . . . Yes I can! (but no I won't).

fucdatsit55 karma

Hello Mayor Booker!
Would you rather fight one Chris-Christie-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized Chris Christies? Please answer this, my curiosity keeps me awake all night long.

corybooker62 karma

Interesting twist on this question. We had some fun with this my response here.

Wad_Squad40 karma

Are you Batman?

corybooker106 karma

Please! I am a 40 something, out of shape, overweight, guy who looks ridiculous in tights - there will be no pictures. Now there is significant evidence that Batman IS from Newark. And one of my staffers (Matt Klapper) does look a little bit like the boy wonder. . . . truth be told there is nothing Dark Night about me.

I love comics, I love superheroes. I've been inspired by this fiction all my life and dreamt as a kid about living such a daring life of do-gooding. But now that I'm older and my Underoos don't fit anymore, I have a much more mature understanding of heroism.

Newark has gifted me a daily run-in with true heroes. They teach in our schools, they organize their blocks, they serve in my fire department and police department, and they leave their families behind answering the call of their country and fight in foreign lands under unimaginable conditions.

More than this, Newark has taught me that real heroism isn't seen in an individual act, it is seen in those people who get up every day, do what is required of them on the job, they serve their families, they take care of their homes but then, above and beyond that, they serve others; they volunteer, they do small acts of relentless kindness every day and in do so in so many ways. Their acts may be small in the moment, but over their lifetime, these acts of decency, kindness and love make a heroic difference in the lives of others and in the strength of their community.

In this sense, any of us can be a hero and too many of us miss our opportunities to manifest heroism.

Alice Walker once said, "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." We all have super powers, we just don't use them as often as we should.

JoBo9437 karma

I was always curious as to your religious beliefs. I am a Progressive Christian, and hope you are one too, how big of a part does faith play in your politics?

corybooker129 karma

Yes I am a Christian and I consider my self Progressive. In addition to my own faith, I've also taken a lot of time to study other faiths. I love to learn about these other traditions and often wish I had more time to do so. I want to thank those mentors from other faith traditions that have helped me learn and grow in my understanding.

But here is something I wrote that really encapsulates my beliefs about faith and religions:

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people;

before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children;

before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors.

In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

HarbingerOfFun31 karma

Greeting Mayor Booker!

I will be working this summer in Newark, what is your favorite place to grab a bite?

corybooker48 karma

So many places! Had a little fun with this's my response

sobo31024 karma

It seems that you give out your number a lot to people on twitter. Does anyone ever abuse having your number and keeps on calling it?

corybooker104 karma

It has happened but supper rare. Most people are good and respectful. Most people in Newark that I give it to are just looking to help, for help, or to be connected to information.

I sincerely believe that most people are good and that we should err on the side of trusting others. I'd rather trust too much and get burned sometimes than not trust enough and miss out on the incredible connections and inspiration I've found in other people.

973areacode23 karma

Mayor Booker,

What's your plan to attract young professionals to live the city? The Ironbound is vibrant but the downtown is generally desolate after sundown. Thanks!

corybooker32 karma

Great question. But ouch! Ouch! I soooo hope you see the change happening in the downtown. Not only are literally millions of people pouring into our downtown during evenings now for entertainment at The Prudential Center and NJPAC but you can see all the development happening:

In addition to new development in our neighborhoods and an emphasis on affordable housing (we doubled the rate of affordable housing production, creating over 1600 units with another 400 under construction), a 24 hour downtown has been a priority since I took office almost 7 years ago. We’ve made a lot of progress, and after years of population decline, Newark has actually seen its first population growth since the 1950’s. Last year we saw a billion dollars of development across the city, and Newark is now home to over 30% of New Jersey’s new commercial and multi-unit residential housing construction. We have another $1.5 billion of new construction in the pipeline for next year, which will push many neighborhoods (including the downtown) to their tipping points. So, within the next year we will have completed or broken ground on: the first two new hotels in Newark’s downtown in 40 years, the first new office towers (several of them) in 20 years, and hundreds upon hundreds of new residential units and the multi-million dollar refurbishing of Military Park one of our key downtown green spaces – this will also stimulate so much more development, more restaurants, more bars, more small businesses. This is simply Newark’s biggest development period in generations – we are creating great momentum and fantastic things lie ahead.

slartibartfast518 karma

Hi Mr. Booker! I want to know what advice you would give YOUR 23 year old self now, if you could? (I'm 23 and a student).

You are a huge inspiration to me. Thank you for being you.

corybooker42 karma

I tweet out advice to myself often. Some people think they are just my somewhat corny platitudes but they are usually something on my mind that I want to remind myself of, reinforce to myself, or that I've found useful. Here is a recent tweet I would definitely have liked to have heard at 23:

Don't be so hard on yourself, you are more beautiful than you think, wiser than you know, and created for a greater purpose than you realize.

I hope you find that meaningful . . . I wish you all the best.

Greeceshallriseagain14 karma

Hello Mayor Booker (from Morris County!): Why do you think your leadership style is so effective? Who is your biggest political influence and why? (Alive or dead).

corybooker13 karma

thank you for your question - here is my response