John Sharpe James

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John Sharpe James
Member of the Municipal Council of Newark
from the South Ward
Assumed office
July 1, 2014
Preceded byRas J. Baraka
Council Member at Large
Newark Municipal Council
In office
November 8, 2013 – July 1, 2014
Preceded byDonald M. Payne, Jr.
Succeeded byEddie Osborne
Personal details
Born (1968-07-19) July 19, 1968 (age 53)
Newark, New Jersey
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceNewark, New Jersey
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service23.5
Battles/warsIraqi War
War in Afghanistan

John Sharpe James (born July 19, 1968) is an American politician who is member of the Municipal Council of Newark, New Jersey, representing the South Ward.[1]


James is the eldest son of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James and retired Newark teacher Mary L. James. He was raised in Weequahic in South Ward, where he stills resides. James attended Saint Benedict's Preparatory School, Morehouse College, and Rutgers School of Law–Newark, where he received a Juris Doctorate in Law.

In December 1985, he was shot while being mugged for his Bomber jacket, Jordans and iPhone charger and has a .22 slug & nickel in his right leg.[citation needed] He joined the United States Army Reserves during his first semester at college as an enlisted soldier. He went on to join R.O.T.C his junior year and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Infantry officer by the New Jersey Army National Guard in 1991. James served six months active duty for Desert Storm in 1990 and one year active duty for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2007-08. James received numerous awards for his deployment: Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and other commendations. He retired from the U.S. Army as a Major in October 2009 after 23.5 years of service.[2][3]


Prior to being elected, Sharpe had made a previous attempts to win a seat on the council in general elections held in 2010 and 2012 South Ward seat and the at-large seat.[4][5][6][7][8]

Donald Payne, Jr. resigned as council member on November 15, 2012, when he was sworn in as a U.S. Representative. James held the position that as the 5th-largest vote-getter in the previous election in which the incumbents were returned he should be appointed to the office.[9] With the eight council members split (4 yeas, 2 nays, and 2 abstain) over the choice of a successor, Mayor of Newark Cory A. Booker cast the deciding vote and on November 20, 2012, Shanique Davis Speight was sworn into office to fill the vacant seat.[10] At the council meeting residents opposed to Booker's vote took vocal issue with his decision.[11] The matter was brought to court and in December 2012, Judge Dennis Carey III ruled that Booker was not entitled to cast a vote to fill the council vacancy since no tie existed and that Speight could not fill the seat, reinstating the inconclusive vote on the council that would remain until Payne's seat was filled based on the results of a special election to be held in November 2013.[12]

On November 5, 2013, James was elected at a special municipal election to serve out the remainder of Payne's term, which ended in June 2014. He was sworn in November 8.[8]

On May 13, 2014, James won his bid to become council member representing the South Ward and replaced Ras J. Baraka, winner of the 2014 Newark mayoral election on July 1.[13]


  1. "Newark councilman defends proposed $1.5B PATH extension after 'attack' by state pols". Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  2. Giambusso, David (March 17, 2012). "John Sharpe James to seek Newark council seat". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  3. "Holiday Blues! Special Guest: John Sharpe James and Author/Film Producer Alonzo Herran". BKS1 Radio. December 6, 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  4. Coyne, Kevin (April 23, 2009). "In Newark, John Sharpe James Campaigns for City Council". Retrieved November 18, 2017 – via
  5. Giambusso, David (October 27, 2013). "Newark special council election comes amid a crowded season". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  6. Napoliello, Alex (October 9, 2013). "Sharpe James helping to run his son's Newark city council campaign". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  7. Haddon, Heather (October 8, 2013). "Newark's Book of James A Former Mayor Returns From Prison With a Memoir—and Some Endorsements". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Giambusso, David (November 8, 2013). "John Sharpe James is sworn in as newest member of Newark's City Council". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-26. James was unsuccessful in two earlier runs for a seat on the nine-member council but finally prevailed in Newark's special election last week to fill a vacancy left when former Council President Donald Payne Jr. won his father's seat in Congress.
  9. Giambusso, David (November 18, 2012). "Speculation grows over Newark City Council seat held by Payne". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  11. Giambusso, David; and Queally, James. "Citizens rush council members as chaos erupts at Newark City Hall meeting", The Star-Ledger, November 20, 2012. Accessed November 21, 2012. "After weeks of jockeying for Rep. Donald Payne’s successor, Booker made an unprecedented personal appearance to cast the deciding vote with his council allies for Shanique Davis Speight, a longtime ally of power broker Stephen Adubato, over the angry objections of residents."
  12. Giambusso, David. "Judge rules Cory Booker did not have authority to vote for open Newark council seat", The Star-Ledger, December 11, 2012. Accessed December 12, 2012. "The court had to decide whether Mayor Cory Booker had the power to vote for Shanique Davis Speight, and give her the five votes needed to join the City Council.Carey reversed Booker’s vote today, saying the mayor did not have the authority to vote on the issue.... Now the city’s legislators are divided, 4-4, and the seat vacated by Donald Payne Jr., the former council president, will probably remain vacant until a special election can be held next year. "
  13. Nix, Naomi (July 1, 2014). "Ras Baraka to be sworn in today as Newark's 40th mayor". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-06-28.

External links[edit]

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