Carla Katz is the former president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1034, where she represented 16,000 public and private sector workers across New Jersey. She has also been a lecturer at Rutgers and a panelist in many venues.
Katz writes about politics and issues impacting labor, women, children and working families.
Carla Katz: Well I should disclose that Cory Booker is a very good friend of mine, and I’d say yes. I actually think Cory is one of the most inspirational people that I’ve ever met. Not just when he speaks; he absolutely and fervently believes in doing something and doing the right thing to change the way our urban centers are viewed. And taking on Newark [New Jersey] has been just an extraordinary task, and a really difficult, difficult one for him.
He has a very special voice, and he is an incredible speaker. He has got one of the best memories of anybody I’ve ever heard. He can go on for an hour and a half, and pulling quotes out of the air on everything from the Talmud to Martin Luther King, and just endlessly winding the story to a wonderful conclusion.
And I think he does represent something new and different. He is certainly not wedged into the mainstream of New Jersey politics, and he’s a little threatening to certain people because of that. But I think he’s got an incredibly bright future.
And there are some other young politicians in New Jersey that sort of seem to be following suit on the Republican side actually rather than on the Democratic side.
But I do think so. I think that Cory’s youth and ability to inspire people very much parallels Barack Obama’s ability.
When he and I met at the Democratic National Convention, back in ’04, and he had just come out of doing a speech, and all these people were around him, and they were all excited, and these women were saying, “That was the best speech I’ve ever heard. You should be President of the United States”; and then this woman turned to him and said, “Yes Mr. Obama, can we have your autograph?”
And he said, “Well there’s more than one sexy Black man in America.”
And he’s just rolling with it.
He really is sort of absolutely committed to doing what he’s doing without an eye to what’s next, which is unusual in American politics anywhere, almost at every level. The second that somebody runs for school board, they’re thinking about running for council or free holder.
And he really wants to do this, and I don’t think he’ll leave Newark until he turns it around. I hope that’s true.
Recorded on: February 8, 2008