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Monday, April 16, 2012 1:37 a.m.

Newark mayor calls on youth to enact “true change”

Cory Booker, mayor of New Jersey's largest city, spoke to dozens of College Democrats members Sunday at Jack Morton Auditorium. Avra Bossov | Hatchet photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Chloe Sorvino

The mayor of Newark, N.J. urged members of the College Democrats on Sunday to be living proof that idealism and politics can coexist.

Cory Booker said he takes a creative approach to his job, creating partnerships with nonprofits and social entrepreneurs.

“True change in society is never made by people who conform to what is. It’s always made by people who say what can be and what should be,” Booker, the leader of New Jersey’s largest city, said.

He lauded his policies as sustainable solutions that get at the root of combating crime and poverty in Newark.

“After I became mayor, we came together as a community and started tackling problems. I knew our community would be far better off if we could bring people together and get them to dream and believe a bit more,” Booker said.

The 42-year-old mayor said his city is thriving, with a drop in homicides and a population that is growing for the first time in more than 60 years.

“The momentum in our city has not been seen in a generation,” Booker said.

Booker sported a bandage on his hand from a burn sustained while pulling a neighbor out of a house fire last week, lighting up national headlines. He was treated at a New Jersey hospital for second-degree burns after the rescue.

He is also known for his 10-day hunger strike while a member of the Newark Municipal Council, protesting open-air drug dealing.

After Booker took Newark’s highest office, he said his colleagues predicted he would lose his idealism in the midst of politics. He said he has proudly stuck to his values.

“This nation, and our city in particular, had been damned with low expectations long enough. We had to start raising people’s expectations,” Booker said.

When asked about his future in politics, Booker said he was “not ruling anything out” – a response that was met by a burst of cheers from the audience.

President of the College Democrats Joe Maniscalco spearheaded the effort to get Booker to headline the organization’s year-end event.

“In my eyes, he’s probably one of the most inspirational speakers out there,” Maniscalco said.

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