City of Wilmington Mayoral Cattle Call — New Year 2012 Edition

Filed in Delaware by on January 9, 2012

The new year sees some firming up of plans for this race, and there has been some intersting movement since the last time we did this, in the Fall. For those of you following the broader narrative, you can see the first Cattle Call from 2010.

Rep. Dennis P. Williams, State Representative

The botched and forced announcement back in October/November probably moved up his timetable some, and left him with a fair amount of patching up relationships with Blunt supporters. He had a hastily put together announcement in mid-November and since then has been mostly making calls and trying to look inevitable.

Rev. Derrick Johnson, pastor of Joshua Harvest Church

I’d still consider this a “profile management” run by the Rev. Johnson — who is looking to burnish his profile and get in the conversation.  He does have a small constituency, and some other (more personal) issues. Not a serious candidate IMO.

Steve Martelli, City Councilman

I think that Martelli is definitely out, but there is still some time to give it a try.

Kevin Kelley, City Councilman

Last time we did this, I noted that Kelley has been working really hard to talk with stakeholders (especially in neighborhoods) all over the city. Certainly, he’s done way more than Williams on this front, at least. He will formally announce today, in two events in the city: one at 11AM at Girls, Inc., and the other at 7PM at the H. Fletcher Brown Boys Club.

Hanifa Shabazz, City Councilwoman

Still out, I’m sure.

Norman Griffiths, City Council President

No one seems to have heard Griffiths commit to anything yet — the Mayor’s race or another run at the President for City Council.

Charles “Bud” Freel, At-Large City Councilman

Definitely not running for Mayor.

Bill Montgomery, Mayor Baker’s Chief of Staff

Got in when it was clear Calistro was working at running. He’s made all of the calls and told the world his hat was in. It is still remarkable to me that doesn’t think he’ll have to be accountable for the Baker-era decisions that have been unpopular among the folks he expects to vote for him. Interesting observation — Montgomery and is wife have new Facebook presences and are friending everyone in sight. There is an invite for a formal announcement for Mayor on Facebook and as of this writing, (Sunday AM), plenty of city employees are responding yes. And the announcement is at The Baby Grand. People in Wilmington neighborhoods, take note.

Ted Blunt, former City Council President

Definitely out. No idea if he will end up supporting anyone.

Senator Bob Marshall, State Senator

Yeah, he’s in. But other than showing up at a Gun Buy-back press event in December, no one has seen him.

Paul Calistro, Director of West End House

Definitely out. One of his goals for running was that West End Neighborhood House couldn’t be hurt by his campaigning. Personnel changes at West End meant that he needed to be more than full-time here, so he decided for his day job. Good for West End, unhappy news for the rest of us.

Late Edit: Scott Spencer

Spencer has definitely declared recently (don’t know if this was a media announcement or a formal event) and even has a website. You’ll remember Spencer from his run at the Congressional seat now held by John Carney — he got as far as declaring and talking to people but never actually filed for it. His website has some basic ideas listed — but he has quite a ways to go to convince folks that he gets both the big picture and its gritty details and has some vision of a path forward.

Mike Brown, At-Large City Councilman

No longer running as a Republican in a Blue City, notwithstanding his endorsement from Colin Bonini. Brown announced last week that he was dropping out of the race, and blamed the media for telling people how hard it wold be for an R to win in the city for his lackluster fundraising. What Brown should have done was unloaded on his party — who showed up for the photo ops and never delivered on the funds. People like Charlie Copeland, Rakestraw and others of the Greenville crowd showed up for Brown’s fundraiser (in November?) at the Public House. They really should have helped him more here — Brown was dutifully enthusiastic about carrying the torch for Castle AND O’Donnell in the city in 2010. He didn’t really need to do that since it would never have made any difference to his council seat. Adding, though, that Brown has been working on this campaign for at least two years. I’d bet that in addition to the lackluster fundraising, he may have learned something about his reputation in the city along the way.

Tyler Nixon, Perpetual Candidate

No idea what he is planning to do and it probably doesn’t matter.

Robert Bovell, Bailbondsman and Perpetual Candidate

No idea what he is planning to do and it probably doesn’t matter.

John Rago, Mayor Baker’s Communications Director was long in the speculation column, but seems to not be in it at all.

So where does that leave us? Probably not too far from where we started. In a year when there is remarkable energy for genuine change in city government, we’re left with mostly business as usual. Of all of them, Kelley is the most articulate on the city’s issues and long term needs, but I’m not so certain of how the city’s business community sees him. Williams has alot to get up to speed on and I’m expecting alot of aggressive handwaving in the direction of some of our issues with little long term vision of building from the City’s considerable assets. Montgomery is at Ground Zero of the current lack of vision, so I’m not expecting more than handwaving from him, either. Handwaving accompanied with alot of work explaining how it is that he can different from the current status quo while being the current status quo. And I’ll point out — the three people left with the best chance at the job are currently government employees who remarkably can get both campaigning and their day jobs done. As for Republicans — there was real chance of getting some attention this year and they couldn’t 1) support their candidate or 2) come up with one they could support. So I guess you could say it is business as usual for the Rs in the city, too.

One thing that looks true is that the City Council may undergo pretty big turnover — and perhaps the game for City folks who want the city to get to its potential is to invest in making sure that the City Council is able to operate as a co-equal branch of the government instead of its rubber stamp mode. Because unless Kelley somehow wins this thing, neighborhoods are not going to be winners with the viable candidates left.

Fundraising reports are due in for all of them this month. What those reports have to say about how well candidates have tapped into networks will be very interesting indeed.

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"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas." -Shirley Chisholm

Comments (16)

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  1. pandora says:

    Thank you for this, Cassandra. It’s the best rundown I’ve seen. Now that Calistro is out, I need to get up to speed. Looking at the group you assembled I’m going with Kelly.

    Interesting how DE Republicans trot out Mike Brown when they need to polish their diversity cred, and then toss him on the trash heap when they’re done using him.

  2. mediawatch says:

    The only way Mike Brown could get a seat on Wilmington City Council is to run as a Republican, and that’s only because City Charter guarantees at least one seat on council to the “minority” party. Brown really is an embarrassment to the Republicans too … but in the city, he’s all they have.

  3. anonone says:

    Did you deliberately leave out Scott Spencer, the anti-choice Democratic candidate?

  4. Jason330 says:

    I’d like to see someone running make the case that a better, more well run Wilmington is important to the state of Delaware. It is kind of odd that non city residents view Wilmington as irrelevant to what is going on in their lives.

  5. cassandra_m says:

    Not deliberate, just forgot. Will add in abit.

  6. cassandra_m says:

    The R’s may have someone else this year for that At-Large seat. Stay tuned.

    @Jason — I’d like to see that too, if anything because it is true. What else is sort of odd about Wilmington is how much of its narrative is determined by people who don’t live here. So you end up with lots of tales of how scary it is in the city or how many parking tickets you get without much in the way of good news of some truly interesting stuff going on here.

  7. While Mike Brown publicly admits that lackluster fundraising is the reason he’s out for Mayor, he isn’t going anywhere….especially not away from the GOP. He’s announced he’s in for his at-large seat (the guaranteed GOP seat) on council.

    Brown’s decision: a likely failed Mayoral bid and some other GOP automatically installed on City Council vs. keeping his councilmatic walk-in job.

    I’m guessing that once Williams decided to run, it changed the game for Brown.

    BTW, Coons was on with Norman Oliver last night and Oliver asked him to respond to rumors that the Port of Wilmington might be privatized. Coons was making an avid defense of the DE River dredging. All he could say about the port’s privatization was to nod and agree that we’d have to watch that carefully. They also discussed Hare’s Corner PO and that Fisker had yet to invtite the auto union to a contract in NewPort.

  8. anonymous says:

    Port of Wilmington privatized. We have all been waiting for this to happen as soon as Markell became Governor! The big question is
    who or what country is buying the port?

  9. socialistic ben says:

    ooo i bet Markell, who you and I both know is an Israeli secret double-agent, is going to sell it to Iran so they can open up a bunch of hummus/koran/leather-daddy stores and raise money for the coming war.

  10. anon says:

    mediawatch wrote City Charter guarantees at least one seat on council to the “minority” party.

    I just read through the relevant sections of the charter, and didn’t see anything about that. It seems patently ridiculous on its face – voters chose their council members, just like they chose their legislators, and if the voters want to chose all Republicans or all Democrats or all Libertarians, that’s their choice.

    Can you point me in the right direction for where I can find that?

  11. mediawatch says:

    Anon:
    From the Charter …
    Sec. 2-101. – The election of councilmen; vacancies.

    At the general election to be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, 1968, and on the same day in every fourth year thereafter on which general elections are held, one councilman shall be elected from each councilmanic district and four (4) from the city at large, together with the president of the council who shall be elected at large. Each elector shall have the right to vote for one district councilman, the president of the council, and (3) councilmen-at-large. To this end not more than three (3) candidates for councilmen-at-large shall be nominated pursuant to law by any party or other political body.

    Note, there are 4 at-large council seats, and no party can nominate more than 3 candidates. So at least one of the at-large council seats must go to a member of the “minority” party.

    Years ago, there were typically two Republicans on council — when there were enough R’s in the Highlands/Rockford Park area to elect Joe DiPinto year after year.

  12. anon says:

    mediawatch – Thanks. I didn’t catch the 4/3 difference.

    What’s the rationale for that, do you know? Are Wilmington voters considered too stupid to think for themselves? Or did the party bosses just want to guarantee they’d have somebody in power?

  13. mediawatch says:

    Couldn’t tell you for sure, but only logical reason is to ensure that both parties get a voice on council. It’s been the law for longer than I’ve been around here (40 years).

  14. anon says:

    Right, but there’s no such guarantee on the New Castle County Council, the Kent Levy Court or the Sussex County Council, or in the General Assembly. Just makes me wonder “Why Wilmington?”

  15. John Manifold says:

    Wilmington charter borrowed heavily from Phila’s, which likewise provides for 2 minority party members on its council. It’s a good idea. Longstreth, Oberholtzer, Joan Specter, Forlietta contributed more than their share on that body, even when it was not, as Mayor Green said in 1982, “the worst elected body in the world.”

    Alas, Wilmington council’s at-large GOP rep since 1968 has been Bartkowski, his son [both owing their seats to Leo], now Brown.