Known for his brash, blunt style, Wilmington Mayor James Baker delivered his farewell address to a packed crowd of city leaders and residents Wednesday night.
Even though he’ll still be in office for more than a month, Baker has said his goodbye to the city in a 20 minute address that covered his memories of nearly 50 years in public service in the city.
“Nothing I have done or accomplished was done by me alone. It happened because of the wonderful people like the staff, department heads, and many great employees, the business community, the non-profit groups, the neighborhood groups, and just good everyday people who made this a better city,” Baker said.
Before his address, a video was shown featuring old pictures of Baker from the time he first came to the city as a VISTA volunteer through his rise to city council, then council president and eventually Mayor. Looking back at it all, Baker said he was proud of his accomplishments over the past forty years. “We took our city to new heights with a level of success and achievements not seen since World War II.”
While the night was primarily a celebration of Baker’s acheivements, he admitted the city is still not where it needs to be. “I know there are many things that need to be done. But I know the next administration will do its best to move our city forward, just as I and other mayors have done.”
Baker’s brash style was highlighted during the video tribute (which you can see below). Through clips from press conferences and various interviews, including some comments made on WHYY’s First, Baker calls out his critics as “dumb” and “idiots.” Some of the critics have questioned Baker’s gruff style of speaking, but he defended himself. “It has always angered some who thought I shouldn’t be that way. But if you are not who you really are, then you are a fraud to yourself and others.”
Mayor Baker’s greatest hits were featured as part of a video tribute looking back at his life. You can watch a portion of that tribute in the video below.