Wilmington lawmakers want younger candidates to run for council, mayor

In an effort to encourage young people to participate in city government, Wilmington City Council members move to lower the age for candidates.

Ernest Trippi Congo

File photo: Councilman Trippi Congo sponsored a measure to lower the age for mayor to 23. (City of Wilmington)

To be elected mayor in Wilmington, candidates must be 30 years old. Current Mayor Mike Purzycki was 72 when took office in 2017. The last five mayors before him, were all within a few years of 60-years-old when they took office, except for Daniel Frawley who was 42 when he was sworn in in 1985.

As part of an effort to get more young people involved in city government, Council approved a resolution to lower the age for mayor to 23.

“This is an attempt just to bring us in line with the majority of cities across the nation,” said Council President Trippi Congo who sponsored the measure. He amended his original proposal before the vote, lowering the age limit even further from the initial bill’s 25 to 23.

He said the measure is intended to encourage “the younger generation to be here to become a part of our political system. We don’t really do a good job of educating our youth around local politics, and hopefully that will become a part of our education system eventually, and hopefully through that young people will be able to, they will want to, become involved.”

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Congo’s resolution passed with eight yes votes and five absents. That was the same vote in favor of a companion resolution that would also lower the age of eligibility for members of Council from 25 to 23.

“We need younger people on this council,” said Council Member Shane Darby. “Diverse, new, progressive opinions are needed. So I’m in full support. I wish it was 18 because I think if you can ask somebody for their vote, they should be able to run for office too.”

Under state law, changes to the Wilmington City Charter like lowering the age for candidates requires approval by the General Assembly in Dover.

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