8th District Wilmington City Councilman
Dear District 8 Residents,
I hope you had a safe June.Thanks again to all healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of this ongoing pandemic.
We’re only 10 weeks away from the election and I hope to earn your support.
Here's an update on what you told me is important in June and what I’m doing to address your concerns.
Do you have 2 minutes to spare? Please help me better understand your thoughts on 8th District & City issues by taking my online survey.
To read 2-3 weekly updates on 8th District issues, follow my campaign Facebook feed (@FieldforDistrict8).
SOLVING 8TH DISTRICT MUNICIPAL PROBLEMS:
The District Representative job at the most basic level is about neighborhood issues, from potholes to building permits to park benches. You can expect me to work hard to live up to the standard of responsiveness set by the retiring incumbent Bud Freel.
Here's two such examples that illustrate the “get stuff done” on your behalf mentality I'll be bringing if elected to City Council:
A resident asked about Covid-19 testing sites. I did some research and gave them a list of times and locations where free testing was available near their neighborhood.
A neighbor wanted to know if it's possible to put a stop sign at the approach to the intersection of Gilpin Avenue & Woodlawn. The way the streets intersect, it is confusing for drivers about where to stop, potentially creating a hazardous situation for pedestrians. I’m looking into it.
LONG-TERM COMMITMENT TO A MORE EQUITABLE WILMINGTON
The events of the last 4 months, whether Covid-19, or protests over the murder of George Floyd, have reinforced my long-term commitment to working together with residents from all 4 corners of Wilmington to build a safer and more prosperous city for everyone.
That’s a fundamental reason why I’m running for City Council.
On June 11th, I proudly attended a march against racial injustice through our neighborhoods. I believe this was the largest protest of its kind ever in the 8th District, certainly in my lifetime.
Several hundred people marched from the Art Museum to Rockford Park, then down to Trolley Square and up through 40 Acres, passing my grade school alma mater, St. Ann’s.
There was a real "buzz" among the marchers and the hundreds of people who came out of their houses to watch. However, what happens next is critical to making sure the short-term momentum leads to sustained change.
On that note, here's how I think I can help make a difference:
As I wrote in my June newsletter, I see an opportunity to use the platform of the 8th District Representative in two key ways to support real change:
First, I'm going to work as hard as I can help build a more connected city. Since the time when I was growing up in Wilmington, I believe there has been a real decline in a sense of shared community between residents from different backgrounds and neighborhoods.
When a huge segment of the population feels alienated and undervalued, it fuels polarization and political tensions. On the flip side, most of our problems become easier to solve with a stronger sense that we rise and fall together as one group.
How can I - with your critical assistance - help move Wilmington in the right direction?
One way is by promoting grass roots activities that find "common ground" and bring people together. An idea I have is installing permanent outdoor public chess tables with a dedicated weekly Chess Night in Cool Springs Park. It's not going to "change the world" in itself, but chess is an activity with a thousand year track record of "bringing people together" from the most differing of backgrounds.
Second, I'll use the platform to support any and all initiatives that will bring more employment and economic activity to the neighborhoods of Wilmington that need it most. See the June newsletter link for more details.
HOW TO MEASURE "PROGRESS?"
Two pictures I took say a thousand words about the inequality problem in my view, and one possible way of measuring movement in the right direction in terms of point #2 above:
The first is the view from a kayak of the abandoned Electric Hose and Rose Rubber Factory on E. 12th St. It was so big I couldn’t get it all in one panorama shot. Three thousand city residents once worked there!
The second is Howard Young Correctional Institute directly across the street. Isn't it sad and ironic that upon the factory's closure in 1980, the city jail opened across the street? That’s now the neighborhood’s largest employer today.
Here's my view of an achievable economic development benchmark for the right kind of progress:
When there are 2x more people working at the vacant factory site than at the jail.
DOING WHATEVER I CAN TO SUPPORT TROLLEY SQUARE BUSINESSES
The next several months will be difficult for many local businesses, especially restaurants. I'm doing whatever I can to try and help.
The good news is that there is quite a bit of good news.
Just this past week, Goober’s Garage at 13th & Lincoln was installed. These types of “unconventional” new places will add fresh new energy to Wilmington.
Another sign of positive momentum was the announcement that Ciro 40 Acres, a new restaurant will open on Lovering Avenue.
As someone who eats breakfast at city diners 5-6 times per week, I can’t wait to do my part in supporting local restaurants once the time is right.
It’s also good to see construction accelerating at the Gas Station on Lovering Avenue (I keep forgetting it’s not “The Getty” anymore).
Being able to fill up your car again on the District's Northern Edge instead of having to drive over to Pennsylvania Avenue will have the effect of bringing more customers to small businesses in the 40 Acres.
PARKS & GREENSPACE: WILMINGTON'S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
It's not an exaggeration to say that our parks in the 8th District, from Brandywine Park to Rockford, are among the best in the country.
There is a real opportunity to make gains in attracting more young professionals (or keeping more of those born & raised here from leaving) to Wilmington by promoting this city asset more effectively.
What about more outdoor exercise equipment in Brandywine Park?
Several residents have suggested adding more outdoor exercise equipment in Brandywine Park. What a great idea! It's also one that helps address so many complementary city goals.
More people exercising, more people engaged in group activities together, leads for a healthier city and stronger community spirit etc. Not to mention that it's fairly inexpensive so a small grant would have outsized impact. If elected, you can count on me to be a strong champion of this idea.
Better Signage at Delaware Ave & Dupont St
Greater walkability is a huge priority for so many of you. I’ve been constantly on the lookout for intersections where small improvements could have an outsized impact.
Two Saturdays ago, as I sat (socially-distanced) catching up with friends on the patio at Kelly's Logan House, a fellow 8th District resident pointed out to me how the ‘One Way’ signs at the intersection of Delaware Ave & Dupont St are not clear. This causes a potentially hazardous situation when cars turn down the wrong way.
Sure enough, within thirty minutes two cars had done just that. I’ll be pushing for additional signage at the stop light to create a safer intersection.
To the right, is a photo of the intersection with an arrow pointing to a possible location for an additional ‘One Way’ sign.
Promoting Stronger Pride and Excitement About Being in Wilmington:
If Wilmington can get better at telling its "story" I'm convinced that we have a tremendous opportunity to generate more buzz, pride and excitement about living here. That would have a hugely positive effect for the city.
In terms of interesting buildings, historic people that lived here or events that have happened here, we have more in Wilmington than the great majority of American towns and cities.
Yet I often find that much smaller cities around the country have a far stronger sense of pride and excitement about living there than we do here. Changing that equation would have a huge effect in increasing a) the number of people who want to move here and b) the number of younger "born and raised" residents who want to stay.
One step in the right direction is through the use of Historical marker plaques. How many new people move here and have no idea of the incredible story of so many local buildings and monuments that they walk past every day?
Thanks to two 8th District residents, State Representative Gerald Brady and fellow Memorial Day Parade committee member Greg Wilson, on July 2nd, a new plaque was dedicated at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Delaware Avenue.
Many of you have made suggestions for other areas where plaques would help generate new interest in Wilmington, and I'll be working hard to get them up if elected.
That’s all for my July update. If you like what you read here, please pass the newsletter along to friends or neighbors in the 8th District. And follow my campaign on Facebook by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
Feel free to reach out at any time if you have concerns you wish to discuss. I’m here to help.
The primary election is only 10 weeks away and it’s important to understand how to cast an absentee ballot if you choose to do so because of COVID-19 concerns.
Check your mail for an absentee ballot application. If you did not receive one in the mail, you can go to iVOTE.DE.gov to request one online or contact the Elections office in New Castle County and ask them to mail you a paper application. Once you fill out the paper request form, you can mail it, fax it, or email it to the New Castle County Elections office. Then, they will send you a ballot in the mail.