Handicapping the Wilmington Mayoral Race

Brett Whitehead
September 8, 2012

A long time ago, I worked for a pizza shop that was regularly frequented by middle-aged drunk losers. These men, usually in their forties but looking like they were in their 60s, would drink cheap beer and then bother whichever employee was not working. As the delivery driver, I was often that employee. I used to argue with one particular gentleman because he was a bandwagon jumper, in that he always pretended to be a fan of whatever sports team was most successful at that time. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2001, he was a suddenly a huge Buccaneers fan, which ws impossible in the early 200s. When the Sixers lost to the Lakers in the NBA finals, he bragged about the Lakers being his childhood favorites, which is gross on many levels. Drunk pizza shop guy not only supported whoever was popular, but he claimed to support them from the beginning.

One of the last times I saw him was right after the Indonesian tsunami in 2004. He staggered into the pizza shop, 75% in the bag at 4 in the afternoon and sat at a booth in the corner. As I walked past him, he looked up at me with half-drooped eyelids and said, “Brett, I have always believed that water is the most powerful force on Earth.” What a poser! This guy never thought that before in his life, and was just now jumping on the water bandwagon. Drunk pizza shop guy had no clue about the properties of water, like how due to Earth’s self-contained atmosphere, the same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still present today. Or that an elephant is made of 70% water. Or that 30% of the worldís electricity is generated by hydropower, the most successful clean and renewable source of power in the world. In fact, for as prevalent and important water is in our lives, there are many things about water that the average person has no knowledge or interest in.

This last point is how I feel about politics. Despite its importance and influence in daily life, politics is something that I neither care about nor am informed about. I often just vote for the person with the biggest or best billboard; and if two people have billboards, the tie-breaker comes down to which person looks the least like a creeper. To that end, this Tuesday (September 11th) is Election Day in the City of Wilmington, Delaware. To assist myself and fellow city residents who have no clue who to vote for, I have compiled the first annual Brutal Horse review of local political candidates. As a disclosure, Brutalhorse.com has no personal interest in the candidates and all commentary that may be construed otherwise is bred solely in ignorance as opposed to personal bias.

What Does the Mayor Do?

As it turns out, the mayor does much more than converse with Commissioner Gordon over when to contact Batman. The general duties of a Mayor are to oversee the Cityís main departments, including the schools, the fire department, the police, transportation and the housing departments. The Mayor is the highest ranking official in local government and controls spending and policy within these departments alongside the City Council.

Why Are All the Candidates Democrats?

The City of Wilmington is strongly pro-Democrat. The incumbent, Jim Baker, is a Democrat who is finishing a historic third term in office [see http://www.wilmingtonde.gov/government/baker]. Baker is leaving office after this term and will be succeeded by the city’s first new mayor in over ten years. It is more than speculation to suggest that the next mayor will be a Democrat, as there is currently no Republican candidate for mayor. The previous candidate, Kevin Melloy, was removed by the Department of Elections when his check for the filing fee bounced. A fact that I swear I am not making up, Melloy allegedly stated that he didnít have the funds because he didn’t know his party would actually cash the check [see http://www.delawareonline.com/…/GOP-candidate-Melloy-off-mayoral-ballot…]. If this article were a Power Poll, this guy would be at the bottom.

Who Are the Candidates?

There are currently five primary candidates for Mayor. As we breakdown the candidates, I am going to eliminate the lowest common denominators of everyone’s platform. Everyone is for education and public safety, so it doesnít prove any candidate’s worth by delving into either issue. Should anyone be against either of those issues, I’ll let you know. I should also point out the City of Wilmington is currently in the midst of a rash of shootings and burglaries, so public safety is a heavy platform that everyone is capitalizing on. I will touch base on any unique positions within that general area, but otherwise just assume everyone is against theft and murder.

Robert Bovell

Bovell is a bail bondsman in the City of Wilmington. Bovell ran against Baker in 2004 (as a republican) and in 2008 (as a democrat) and lost both times.

Kevin F. Kelley

Long time City Council member who really likes politics. Comparable in career and looks to Tommy Carchetti in The Wire, minus everything scandalous/interesting. Came to my house one afternoon and gave me a flyer.

William Montgomery

Wilmington Chief of Staff who worked under Baker. Killer mustache, and for reasons I canít articulate, looks like a mayor.

Scott Spencer

Younger, upstart candidate. Really into trains and grammatically awkward campaign slogans. (“Transformation Innovation for Wilmington!”)

Dennis Williams

Former homicide detective, current State Representative with strong legislative record. I would be remiss not to mention Williams is currently dogged by the media and his opponents because he did not pay his property taxes. Williams admits the delinquency and attributes the situation to a result of his motherís passing. Although this story is the definition of a red herring, one cannot help but raise an eyebrow.

Who do I Vote For?

Here is where I canít help you. Voting is a sacred civic duty and the information provided herein will hopefully help you find the candidate who represents your best interests. Just make sure you go.

Who Will Win?

The favorites right now are Montgomery and Williams, and I would suspect that the race comes down to how the public takes to Williams’ platform. The city is facing serious issues with crime that have permeated every socio-economic neighborhood in the city, meaning that crime will not only be on peopleís minds, but will also inspire those customarily disinclined to vote to come out for the primary election. At first glance, Williams has the professional history to suggest a possible solution to the city’s primary problems, but that history only vaguely translates into an ability to be the mayor. By way of contrast, Montgomery has history with the cityís most famous mayor and despite his prickly demeanor, can assure voters of a status quo that may both exist and resolve itself outside the duties and abilities of the mayor. If Williams can convince the public otherwise, he wins. If the public wants more than a catchy jingle, so begins the mustache era.

Information on New Castle County Elections, including voting deadlines, poll centers and absentee ballots can be found at http://electionsncc.delaware.gov/.

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