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Newark Mayor Loses Bid For Unprecedented Fifth Term With Nebraska Governor, Bjt

May 14, 1986

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson has lost his bid for an unprecedented fifth term, defeated by a former ally 16 years after he became the first black mayor of a major Northeastern city.

Meanwhile, Atlantic City Mayor James L. Usry failed Tuesday to win his first full, four-year term outright and must face a runoff election June 10.

Newark Councilman Sharpe James upset Gibson, 53, in the non-partisan election in the state’s largest city. With 175 of the 189 districts reporting, unofficial returns showed James with 27,459 votes, or 55 percent, to Gibson’s 19,894, or 40 percent. The Rev. Oliver Brown, 44, a member of the Newark Board of Education, got 1,724 votes, while Dennis Knight, 30, a substitute teacher, got 338 votes.

James, 49, who was elected to the council in 1970, the year Gibson first took office, will take over as the city’s second black mayor July 1.

James, a college physical education professor, said, ″I hope to go to the council to join with the business community and the citizens to map out a long-range plan″ for Newark.

Gibson, in a brief concession speech, said, ″The people of this city are the best in the country. (They) have made a decision.″ An aide said the mayor would have no further comment until a news conference this morning.

When Gibson took office, Newark was billed as the worst city in America. Three years earlier, riots had claimed the lives of 26 people.

The city of 318,000 no longer is cited as a symbol of urban ills, but still has a long list of problems. More than 30 percent of its students drop out of high school, 11.8 percent of the workforce was unemployed in 1984 and one- third of the residents live below the poverty level.

Gibson maintained throughout his tenure as mayor that he had brought significant changes to the city, but his opponents said he did not have enough accomplishments in 16 years to warrant re-election.

In the gambling resort to the south, where poverty clashes with the glitter of 11 casinos, unofficial but complete results showed Usry with 6,064 votes, or 47.5 percent. State Assemblywoman Dolores Cooper received 5,820 votes, or 45 percent. Former housing administrator Bernard B. Fulton, who headed Usry’s 1984 campaign, captured 508 votes, and Councilman Harold Mosee, got 383 votes.

Usry was elected 26 months ago in a special election in which the former mayor was recalled. In order to win outright on Tuesday, he would have had to have received more than 50 percent of the vote. But Fulton and Mosee, who like Usry are black, siphoned off some of his support in predominantly black wards.

About half of the city’s voters are black.

The only white candidate, Mrs. Cooper, 63, received overwhelming support in predominantly white wards and from precincts in other wards with large senior citizen housing complexes.

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