Wilmington’s next mayor Mike Purzycki was inaugurated in the city’s Grand Opera House Tuesday night.
During his speech, the democrat and former Riverfront Development Corporation executive focused on the city’s challenges and previous administrations’ failures, and his administration’s commitment to setting high standards and achieving success.
“It has been said the greatest danger is not aiming too high and missing the mark, but aiming too low and hitting it,” Purzycki said. “You can be assured we will never in my administration aim too low.”
He credited Wilmington for its diverse neighborhoods, industry, parks and cultural institutions, but also said crime, incarceration, poverty, poor education and budgetary limitations strain the city and give it a bad reputation.
“We have allowed Wilmington to be defined by the worst of us and not be the best of who we are. We have budgeted not to our potential but to our perceived limits, forgetting each time we acquiesce to these limits our ability to grow and improve is further limited,” Purzycki said.
“We pay too many of our employees less than the market demands. The consequences are poor morale, police officers leave at first opportunity, difficulty in attracting high quality management personnel and a work force that spends too much time trying to get even at the system rather than being motivated by a shared vision of success.”
However, he said Wilmington can move in a positive direction with an improved mindset.
“We can envision beautiful, well-maintained and a safe city committed to the rebuilding of neighborhoods, employment for the jobless, an energetic downtown populated by young entrepreneurs all driven by an economic development machine surely part of by our DNA,” Purzycki said.
“We will build our budgets to that vision. Our objective is more growth, more jobs, more residents and more construction.”
Purzycki said his administration will be committed to excellence, insisting if “we can’t do something well, we shouldn’t do it at all.”
He said he has appointed those who will be committed to employment, clean up the city and create a transparent and responsive government.
Purzycki said public safety is a top priority, and he’s currently using a national search firm to review potential police chiefs. Current Police Chief Bobby Cummings also will stay on board to assist the new administration to help the city in any way possible.
“I remain committed to community policing strategies and deploying as many officers on our streets and our downtown as possible,” Purzycki said.
“We must help our officers reduce crime by stabilizing neighborhoods, by strengthening families and keeping our kids in school. We need health community centers and programs to keep them engaged.”
He also said he is dedicated to building a new Wilmington high school.
During the event Hanifa Shabazz was sworn in as City Council President, and Velda Jones Potter took her oath of office as the city’s treasurer—both are the first women and African Americans to be elected in these positions in Wilmington.
Twelve district and at-large members of the Wilmington City Council also were sworn in, seven of which are newly elected.
During her own speech Shabazz said she will fight to enact CDC recommendations to reduce violence and create a diverse business community, and she encouraged constituents to “hold elected officials accountable to what we promised in our campaigns.”