Wilmington mayoral candidates weigh in on city's crime, poverty

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Wilmington will have a new mayor soon after the incumbent was defeated Tuesday night in the Democratic primary. (WPVI)

At Riverfront Wilmington Wednesday, voters greeted Mike Purzycki, Tuesday night's winner of the Democratic primary for mayor. He won with less than 24 percent of the votes cast in a field of seven, which included the incumbent, Mayor Dennis Williams.

Since the early 70s, the Democratic primary has served as the real general election because Democrats have the heavy-registration advantage.

The current mayor was not available for comment Wednesday. He scored less than 14 percent of the votes cast.

The sweeping makeover of the riverfront, once considered an industrial wasteland, is Purzycki's shining civic accomplishment. He headed up the redevelopment corporation. He knows it'll be a tougher challenge, dealing with the city's deep-seeded problems of poverty and violent crime.

"The health of our city depends on how we treat our poorest neighborhoods, and I think they've been neglected for decades, and it's my intention we're going to go in there and do some really dramatic things to improve those neighborhoods," said Purzycki, Democratic nominee for mayor.

GOP nominee Robert Martin got a fresh haircut Wednesday. The real estate executive sees crime and poverty as the main problems here as well, and he says he has a plan.

"We can't be known nationally as 'murder town' so we have to get rid of the crime," said Martin, Republican nominee for mayor.

Purzycki says there will be changes in the top brass of the police department. At random, local residents say great change is needed at City Hall.

"But I think fundamentally people are still kind of worried about the security of the city," said Nan Ye of Wilmington.

"By bringing jobs, bringing the crime down, giving our kids positive things to do within the community," said Hakeem Warren of Wilmington.

An old adage fits here: A new wind blows, the page turns, soon.
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