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Newark Mayor Defends His Urban Stomping Grounds

Newark's Mayor Cory Booker has a reputation for his devotion to his rough New Jersey city.

"I felt something powerful as I was coming to the city as a younger man and then eventually in law school, I was very much passionate about urban issues and very much passionate about this idea in America, then American dream can be made real in urban areas," Booker said in an interview with CBS News' Randall Pinkston.

Pinkston asked the mayor to grade the once crime riddled city at the half way point of his term. "I'm a tough grader," Booker said, "so definitely above average but we are not at the A level that I want to be."

"I think we can go a lot further in the final two years, if you compare us to other cities I think we are showing a tremendous amount of success but I demand more," he said.

The mayor added that in the last two year period the city has seen a forty percent drop in murders and shootings, "which is very dramatic."

In 1998, Booker controversially set up permanent residence in one of Newark's worst projects.

"I was living across the street from it for a few years and the folks in that community where so powerful in my life, still to this day," he said. "I always say I got my B.A. from Standford but my Ph.D. from the streets of Newark and some of the best professors, elders and friends of mine were living in that housing complex."

It was dangerous, Booker admitted, "but at the same time the intact community that was there was one of the best protective groups that I ever had and I've lived in a lot of places in my life," he explained.

Pinkston asked if there were ever incidents where Booker feared for his own safety.

"There were definitely scary times…but at the end of the day because of Newarkers I've become a prisoner of hope with a life sentence," he said.

For more of this interview check your local listings Sunday for the CBS Weekend News.

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