Wilmington mayor restarting city’s defunct Ethics Commission



    Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki nominated seven people to serve on the city’s ethics board, which dissolved in 2015, under former Mayor Dennis Williams.

    The watchdog panel refers allegations of bad behavior among city employees to the city solictor to investigate. The Ethics Commission also recommends, where appropriate, any disciplinary action against an employee. 

    According to a statement in the News Journal from city council Chief of Staff Gary Fullman, who served as Williams’ chief of staff, a designated mayor’s office employee didn’t notify higher-ups about when the commission’s seats would need to be filled. Thus, resulting in the group’s inadvertent dissolution. 

    Purzycki started compiling a list of qualified citizens who were interested in serving on the Ethics Commission earlier this year, after taking office. Purzycki announced his slate of nominees Wednesday night. 

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    Commission members are limited to two, four-year terms. It may not have more than four members serving who are affiliated with one political party and no member may hold political office or be part of any political campaign. 

    The nominees being submitted to city council for its review and approval later this summer are:

    William Johnston, a Republican who is an attorney and partner with the Wilmington law firm of Young Conway Stargatt & Taylor (nominated for a four-year term commencing in 2017)
    Charles H. Toliver IV, a Republican who is an attorney with the law firm of Wilmington law firm of Morris James and a retired judge (24-years) with the Delaware Superior Court (nominated for a four-year term commencing in 2017)
    Faith Meisinger-Petit, a Democrat who is the national director of customer service with Corporation Service Company (nominated for a four-year term commencing in 2017)
    Melvin Phillips, a Democrat who is a member of the board of directors of the AFL-CIO and president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist Delaware Chapter (nominated for a four-year term commencing in 2017)
    Demetrio ‘Junior’ Ortega, a Democrat who is a former three-term member of Wilmington City Council (5th District) and the former executive director of the Latin American Community Center (nominated for a four-year term commencing in 2017)
    Frank Hawkins, a Democrat who is the director of advocacy and community engagement for AIDS Delaware (Frank is a current member of the commission who is being re-nominated to serve through the middle of April 2019)
    Denison Hatch, a Republican who is the president of the Highlands Community Association (Denison is a current commission member who is being re-nominated to serve through the middle of April 2019)

    “I appreciate the willingness of this distinguished group of citizens to serve in this important capacity,” Purzycki said. “The duties and responsibilities of the Ethics Commission are established by virtue of the City Code and include the referral of alleged violations of conflict of interest and code of conduct provisions to the City Solicitor for investigation. Although we hope the talents of this group are not frequently needed, I am confident that all matters brought before the Ethics Commission will be handled in a professional, credible, and independent manner.”

    Wilmington City Council must vote to approve the mayor’s nominees, but won’t do so until August when it reconvenes after the summer recess.


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