The long list of Democrats vying for the title of Wilmington Mayor grew by one today, now that Councilman Kevin Kelley, Sr. (D), who represents the 6th District, announced he’s giving up his city council seat to run for the office Mayor James Baker leaves behind.
“My focus is going to be on neighborhoods. We’ve got to get back to restore these neighborhoods so people feel safe. When neighborhoods are safe, businesses grow and everybody prospers,” said Kelley.
His focus on neighborhoods would begin with what he calls a “Targeted Action Group” initiative, or TAG. TAG divides the city into sections dedicating inspections officials, police and constituent services members to a specific section.
“What happens now, when you call the city and you have an issue, four or five different people could address it,” said Kelley. “This way when you call in, they’re gonna say, ‘You’re in Browntown, you’re in Tag Team #1,’ a team approach will be handling your issue, rather than somebody each time taking care of it”
The same goes for police, a move he says will increase public safety.
“Community policing – I’ve been advocating for several years. Officers need to be assigned to geographical areas so they get to know people and people get to know them.”
Lastly, Kelley spoke about increasing outreach towards the city’s at-risk young people, expanding after-school programs, as well as opening up recreational facilities at night.
Republican Councilman Mike Brown showed up for Councilman Kelley’s announcement. Brown was also a mayoral candidate up until last Thursday.
“When I went to folks, they just said, ‘Hey, I can’t give good money towards a bad idea,'” said Brown.
Without money and with the odds stacked against him, Brown decided to suspend his campaign. However, his showing up Monday, Brown says, is in no way, shape or form an endorsement.
“He’s a friend, he’s my neighbor, we live three blocks apart, and he is a colleague on council. It does not mean, by any means, that I am gonna be supporting Councilman Kelley for mayor. It doesn’t mean, by any means, that I’m gonna be supporting anyone right now for mayor.”
Councilman Kelley has represented the 6th District for 20 years. He was first elected to Wilmington City Council in 1992 and serves as the President Pro Tem. He also works for the state as the Budget Manager for the Department of Health and Social Services.
Kelley is up against state Rep. Dennis P. Williams (D-Wilmington North), state Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington West), Rev. Derrick Johnson, pastor of Joshua Harvest Church, Bill Montgomery, Mayor Baker’s Chief of Staff and Scott Spencer, who ran for the U.S. House two years ago.
“There are a lot of good, qualified candidates. We have some people in the race that people are going to have to make some tough decisions on. At the end of the day, they’re gonna like me,” said Kelley, who will announce his bid for mayor again tonight at 7:00 p.m. at H. Fletcher Brown Boys and Girls Club.