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Ordinance to include all Council-members in 1st District vacancy selection passes, public to be included in process

February 1, 2019

WILMINGTON – The City is one step closer to filling the vacancy on the Wilmington City Council designated for a representative of the 1stDistrict.

By a vote of 7 to 3, Councilmembers tonight approved an ordinance that would allow all members of Council to be part of the committee that selects and recommends to Council who will fill the vacancy and opens the process to members of the public.

After the recommendation is made, it is still up to the whole body of the Council to vote on whether to accept the selection.

“We want to move quickly to get the 1stDistrict vacancy filled and approval of this ordinance will allow us to do that – provided we work together as a council and deliver for the people,” said Council President Hanifa Shabazz. “I’m looking forward to that happening so we can get back to work.”

Council President Hanifa Shabazz seen during a special city council Meeting Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at Louis L.Redding City-County Building in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo By Saquan Stimpson

The legislation was sponsored by Councilwoman Michelle Harlee, 4thDistrict, who also introduced an amendment to open the selection process to the public, said she is pleased that the process for filling the vacancy can “finally” move forward and praised her colleagues for passing the measure.

“Passage of this ordinance accomplishes the objective of inclusiveness of the Council and the public, which will now be part of the selection process,” Councilmember Harlee said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

4th District Council Member Michelle Harlee seen during a special City Council Meeting Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at Louis L.Redding City-County Building in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo By Saquan Stimpson

The 1stDistrict seat was left vacant after the Councilman Nnamdi Chukwuocha was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in November.

Per the City Charter, President Shabazz appointed the members to the special committee, which is made up of five members of city council, one of which was the President, who served as its chair.

After extensive outreach was made to the public via print and digital media, as well as through PSAs on WITN 22, the Wilmington City Council began soliciting letters of interest from residents of the city’s 1st District interested in filling the seat.

The Committee conducted 12 interviews over the course of two days and after deliberating over the candidates’ qualification, the group emerged with its recommendation.

That recommendation was rejected by members of Council, who questioned the process and paved the way for passage of Harlee’s legislation.

The next step now is to convene the special Committee of the Whole and hold the second round of interviews.

“It’s time to get this done,” said Councilmember Harlee.