Delaware Sen. Robert Marshall announces bid for Wilmington mayor

 Delaware Senator Robert Marshall announces his bid for Wilmington Mayor. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Delaware Senator Robert Marshall announces his bid for Wilmington Mayor. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Delaware State Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington, has joined Wilmington’s mayoral race.

The long-time senator made the announcement at the Wilmington’s riverfront Thursday, promising to improve the job market, public safety and education, if elected in November.

“The next mayor faces a difficult task,” Marshall said. “The chronic problems of Wilmington must be addressed in a practical and realistic manner or we face more than just a crisis in confidence. We can’t function for the good of our citizens without a commitment to travel a new path.”

Marshall will run against incumbent Mayor Dennis Williams, City Council President Theo Gregory, former City Councilmen Kevin Kelley and Norman Griffiths, City Councilwoman Maria Cabrera and advocacy director for the Delaware Center for Justice Eugene Young. 

This is the second time he has run for mayor—he announced a bid in 2012, but dropped out because he felt he was needed in the Senate.

Marshall, who has been State Senator since 1979, has served as director of the Delaware Skills Center, and has led the Senate’s Labor & Industrial Relations and Public Safety committees.

He pointed to several achievements during his time as Senator that he believes qualify him to lead the city of Wilmington.

Those include: securing every increase in the state hourly minimum wage; sponsoring a “blue collar” tax credit to create thousands of jobs; rejuvenating the Port of Wilmington and securing state funding to for the Wilmington Police Department.

Marshall also cited his new initiative, the “Work-a-Day Earn-a-Pay” program, which provides employment to at-risk and impoverished residents through public works projects.

“Wilmington is a troubled city without affective political leadership,” he said. “My record in public office demonstrates I have the ability to persuade, work with others and work out a program to have this city up again.”

Marshall said the biggest issues facing Wilmington are violence, dwindling job opportunities and failing public schools.

“To renew Wilmington we must do more than just solve our public safety problem. You can’t arrest your way to security,” he said. “The core issues of poverty, jobs and quality education must be addressed in a meaningful and effective way.”

Marshall said the first item on his agenda if elected will be to recruit an experienced police commissioner.

He said removing illegal guns from the streets must be a priority, body cameras for police officers should be acquired and officers need to walk and bike the streets to better understand the residents.

“The Wilmington police force needs to change its culture of how we work in our city,” Marshall said. “When we do that with the right professional leadership, the public safety in the city, the quality of life in the city, will improve.”

Marshall said he also will focus his attention on job development, specifically for blue collar workers. He said this includes construction trades training and expanding the Port of Wilmington.

“That employment center of blue collar, low-skilled and semi-skilled workers, is part of the solution to Wilmington’s crime problem,” he said. “If we can hire another 100 or 200 blue collar workers who can learn how to operate a fork lift, work on the dock moving cargo, we make a significant impact on the crime issue here.”


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