8th District Wilmington City Councilman
Dear District 8 Residents,
I hope you had a safe May. Thanks again to all healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of this ongoing pandemic.
During this time of unrest in our country, I stand in solidarity with those in Wilmington mourning the murder of George Floyd. I strongly support those peacefully protesting against racial injustices that are prevalent across the USA.
I look forward if elected to supporting real change when it comes to solving the problem of systemic racism.
This monthly newsletter was created to keep residents informed of what I'm doing to address their concerns after Coronavirus made many traditional campaigning tactics all but impossible.
Here is the June edition.
P.S. Do you have 2 minutes? Please help me better understand more about your thoughts on Wilmington by taking my online survey.
MAINTAINING THE 8TH DISTRICT TRADITION OF GREAT CONSTITUENT SERVICES
Elected officials work for you. You can expect me to work hard to live up to the example for responsiveness to constituent concerns set by the retiring incumbent Bud Freel.
Although I'm only a candidate, I’ve been doing what I can to help when residents have asked. Here's two such examples that illustrate the “get stuff done” on your behalf mentality I'll be bringing to City Council:
A Highlands resident asked for assistance in deciphering a 2016 letter from the City announcing a new ordinance on public utilities. I spent two hours doing research. Through several email exchanges I got him the clarity he was looking for.
An immigrant small business owner wants to expand his business via a construction project. He has limited knowledge of local contractors. I made some phone calls to trusted sources and gave him a list of names of reputable companies that could be a good fit.
TACKLING WILMINGTON'S #1 CHALLENGE: THE INTERSECTION OF RACISM, INEQUALITY & POVERTY
The murder of George Floyd in Minnesota saddened me on so many levels. It also strongly reinforces my 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 as I've been saying since the beginning of my campaign.
On one hand, a District representative's formal job description is to deal with standard municipal problems in their territory. Things like pot holes and park benches...
The way I see it though, the poverty and inequality that exists in many other areas of Wilmington are also fundamentally “8th District problems.”
Everything in our City is connected. If one neighborhood struggles, its problems spill over into others.
"What do you have to offer in building a more equitable Wilmington?"
I spend my days working in the construction industry on the City’s underprivileged East Side. One of my duties is a project to relocate the company I work for down the street to another section of East Wilmington. This entails an environmental clean up of a section of land near Riverside Housing Project that will serve as our new location.
Through my "Day Job" experiences I have detailed knowledge of the sections of Wilmington that need help the most. And I also have a strong understanding of the types of blue-collar jobs and companies that are most likely to move there to create a more equitable local economy.
Here's 3 ways I'll apply this to helping build a fairer Wilmington:
First, I’ll use the platform and influence of the position of 8th District representative to support any and all economic development initiatives in underprivileged neighborhoods.
Most new companies to Wilmington are “white collar” and move to the Riverfront or downtown.
What about our “Rust Belt,” the former manufacturing centers which have been left so far behind in the post-industrial era?
Seeing more prosperity in these areas has long been a goal of mine.
Here's just one example.
In early 2019, I planned and hosted an event titled “Thriving in a forgotten corner of Wilmington.” The goal was to counter negative stereotypes about under-privileged areas of our city that make new economic activity there less likely.
Second, I’ll be a cheerleader for critical projects such as the new Teen Warehouse and REACH Riverside, aimed at the full-fledged revitalization of the Riverside Housing Project. I’ve toured the sites. I’m incredibly impressed with the staff. The more that residents of the 8th District know about these initiatives and root for their success, the better.
Third and possibly most importantly, I’ll work as hard as I can to create a more connected city. We lack a sense of shared community and purpose between residents from different backgrounds.
We don't know each other.
I believe that most of our problems become easier to solve where there is a stronger sense that we rise and fall together as one group.
Here’s two ideas I have for contributing to changing that:
The first is promoting a more active effort to support businesses in economically underprivileged areas of Wilmington. For example, I’m very excited to read about this new restaurant at 7th & Church. I strongly encourage 8th District residents to patronize such establishments even if it’s out of their way and frankly, out of their comfort zone. I plan on doing so.
The second is my idea of public chess tables in Cool Springs Park with a designated “community chess night.” Let’s just say every Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm. Chess is a game that’s been proven over the course of thousands of years to attract people from all backgrounds. And Cool Springs Park, due to its location in close proximity to both the poorest and richest areas of the City, is a perfect spot for this.
If you have other ideas about how I can contribute to building a fairer Wilmington, I’d love to hear them. I'm here to listen.
IF YOU OWN OR WORK AT A SMALL BUSINESS, I'VE GOT YOUR BACK
The next several months will be difficult for many local businesses, especially restaurants. As someone who has started several businesses, I know what it feels like to put everything on the line. It’s stressful under the best of circumstances. My heart is with any Wilmingtonian whose livelihood has been severely curtailed for reasons outside of your control due to Covid-19.
That especially includes their employees. While out walking around, I’ve had several heart wrenching conversations with residents of the 8th who are unemployed because of this crisis. I’ve been unemployed before. The effect on personal morale is terrible. So I know exactly what you are going through.
Unfortunately, our District lost neighborhood staple, De La Coeur Cafe on Lovering Avenue this past week. On the other hand, there is some good news, a new diner on Rodney Street just off Pennsylvania Avenue is set to open in July.
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 in the recovery.
LEVERAGING OUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: PARKS & WALKABILITY
For the 2nd straight month, our incredible parks were the most cited answer when I ask residents “what do you like most about Wilmington?” In my view, what we have in the 8th District with the Brandywine Park through Rockford stretch is among the best in the country.
That’s not an exaggeration. I truly believe there is a real opportunity to make gains in attracting more young professionals to Wilmington by promoting this city asset more aggressively.
On a related note, I’m extremely excited about the completion of the renovations to Josephine Fountain in Brandywine Park. I strongly suspect this beautiful spot is going to be a revived focal point of revived community spirit and meetups once we get past COVID-19.
10th and Adams Street – Be More Specific!
In my May newsletter, I mentioned 10th & Adams as one spot where a small grant could have an outsized impact in improving walkability between the Cool Springs and Downtown areas. A reader rightly asked for more details about what specifically I’d do. Here is my answer:
Large signs facing people coming from downtown by foot that say something to the effect of “Welcome to Cool Springs: We hope you enjoy walking here”
New plants on the grass by the bridge to create a more appealing landscape and better pedestrian experience
Artwork and murals on the inside of the bridge to create a more welcoming look
Each of the above are cheap but working with elected officials at other levels, I’m confident we could get a grant that would have outsized impact in encouraging more walkability and enhanced community at this critical intersection.
OUR CITY'S MEMORIAL DAY PARADE
THE STREAK DID NOT END
I'm incredibly proud to be a member of the Memorial Day parade organizing committee. For 150+ years, residents have gathered on May 30th at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Delaware Avenue to honor those who gave their lives for their country.
Many cities around the country cancelled their ceremonies this year due to Covid-19. In Wilmington we said "no way." Our feeling was that the “show must go on” in some modified form. There is too much tradition involved not to. This past Saturday, we did just that. Ten of us marched down the parade route and we held a shortened ceremony.
I was also quite surprised and honored to be given the annual Albert McMullin volunteering award for my project to tell the story of city residents killed during World War Two.
That’s all for my June update. If you like what you read here, please pass the newsletter along to friends or neighbors in the 8th District.
Feel free to reach out at any time if you have concerns you wish to discuss. I’m here to help.