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Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is endorsing a Lords of the Underground rapper for West Ward councilman in the May 2022 election, dropping his support for an incumbent who is facing federal charges in an alleged kickback scheme.

© Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com Dupré “Doitall” Kelly announces his candidacy for council member-at-large for Newark City Council in 2017. Newark, NJ, USA (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Dupré “DoItAll” Kelly formally announce his bid for incumbent Joseph McCallum’s seat Saturday afternoon under the Baraka ticket. Two others have already announced their bid for McCallum’s seat: Chigozie Onyema, an attorney, and former South Ward Councilman Oscar James.

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It’s already becoming a crowded field for a race that’s still about 10 months away. Candidacy petitions don’t become available until January.

This isn’t the first foray into politics for all three candidates.

Kelly unsuccessfully ran for an at-large council seat in the 2018 city election. He co-founded 211 Community Impact, a nonprofit that addresses gun violence, mental health and literacy among youth.

“Born and raised here,” Kelly wrote on Facebook this week when he announced his bid to run. “Raised in the West Ward of Newark, NJ from 10 years old & still here currently. To (have) the honor to run for City Council in my city and in the Ward I grew up in is a great responsibility that I have unknowingly been preparing for since I was a child.”

Baraka endorsed McCallum in the 2018 election. The mayor said last year McCallum should consider resigning if the allegations that he received kickbacks and bribes from developers proved to be true.

Court records show that McCallum’s attorney asked for an extension in the criminal case until Aug. 31 to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement. He did not respond to a request for comment Saturday afternoon about whether he still plans to run off the Baraka ticket.

Onyema once worked on Baraka’s transition team in 2014. He’s also had stints with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and most recently worked as the policy director at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs under Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

“I’m asking you to join us as we chart a new course, as we take our ward in a new direction,” Onyema said in his campaign launch at Akwaaba Gallery on Saturday. “One that is uncompromised by the trappings of power and unencumbered by a position on a ticket.”

James lost his South Ward council seat to Baraka in 2010 and served one term. He wrote an opinion piece in 2019 criticizing Baraka’s handling of the lead crisis.

“I have decided that it is time for me to engage again,” James wrote on Facebook last month. “I pray that the citizens of the West Ward and I can create a vision together to change how our community looks as a whole. For too many years the West Ward has not received the attention it deserves.”

The mayor, whose seat is also up for a vote in 2022, endorsed eight of the nine council incumbents in the 2018 election. All nine council seats are up for a vote next year too.

The Newark municipal elections are Tuesday, May 10. The deadline to file a petition to run in Newark’s nonpartisan municipal elections is March 7.

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Rebecca Panico may be reached at rpanico@njadvancemedia.com.

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