NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Voters in Newark will head to the polls Tuesday in the race for mayor of New Jersey's largest city.
Mayor Ras Baraka is hoping for a second term as he faces City Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins.
"Just to have my peers and people I love, and people I don't know cheering for me, makes me feel great," said Chaneyfield Jenkins.
She has no hesitation talking about her past challenges: financial worries, losing her job, her home, losing four sisters and her mother to breast cancer.
Her strength, she says, is what Newark needs.
"One of the things you will have with a Chaneyfield Jenkins administration is honesty and transparency. If there's a problem we will fix it," she said.
Some say she has a tough battle against the popular and sometimes controversial Baraka, who is leading the city through its current renaissance.
"We took the city when it was in serious financial difficulty, $93 million deficit," said the mayor. "So us repairing the deficit, hiring 450 cops, police officers weren't being hired in the city, promoting them, reducing the unemployment rate in the city from 12 to 7 percent, getting the schools back under local control."
The two candidates have squared off in debate during the election, giving their visions of what's next for the city of Newark, with growth, jobs, and crime reduction being key issues.
"When the mayor says crime is down, people in the neighborhoods don't feel that," said Chaneyfield Jenkins.
And while the mayor says new statistics actually took Newark off the list of the most crime-ridden cities, he acknowledges there is more work to do.
We caught up with Baraka after the swearing-in ceremony elevating officers in the police and fire departments.
"We have reduced crime every single year in the city, 117 murders when I first took office. Homicide rate is down by 30 percent," he said.
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Voters head to polls Tuesday in election for mayor of Newark
More TOP STORIES News