South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James brings more than twenty years of military experience, government administration and community service to the City of Newark, with a focus of improving the quality of life for all residents and stakeholders. A lifelong Newarker, John grew up in the Weequahic section of Newark’s South Ward. He attended St. Benedict’s Preparatory High School, Morehouse College, majoring in English and Rutgers-Newark Law School, earning a Juris Doctorate.
While in college John joined the United States Army Reserves and Georgia Tech ROTC Program, to later be commissioned by the New Jersey Army National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant Infantry Officer. Over the next nineteen years John went through various classes and assignments such as Airborne School, Infantry Officer School, Mortar training and TOW missile training before being promoted to Major. Major James served a one year tour of combat duty in Afghanistan from September 2007 through September 2008 as an Infantry Ground Commander against the Taliban and Anti-Coalition Forces. Major James also sustained injuries when he was blown up by an enemy explosive device which detonated under his vehicle.
Major James retired from the Army in 2009 with numerous awards and accolades to include a Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Meritorious Service Medal.
In November 2013, Mr. James was elected Councilman At-Large of the City of Newark, to serve out the remainder of Congressman Donald Payne Jr’s Council term as he was elected to Congress. Councilman James was elected to the South Ward seat for a full term in May 2014.
Ever about the South Ward Community and City as a whole, Councilman James constantly seeks opportunities to enhance the quality of life for his residents and bring City Hall resources out to the neighborhoods. Councilman James has championed for better public safety by hiring over four-hundred Police officers, supporting a Street Academy to engage residents in the neighborhood, a mobile Job/Work Center Van to employ residents where they live and re-entry programs to combat recidivism. He has served as President of the South District Police Council Community organization, Commander of American Legion Post #152, an Officer in VFW Post #9015 and serves on the City’s Tax Abatement and Public Safety Committees.