On Tuesday night, long-time Newark City Council Member Jerry Clifton scored an impressive win in a four-way race Newark mayor.
Clifton was able to thread the needle between the desire of residents for a reliable leader and growing unease with the growing enrollment of the University of Delaware and Main Street. Current mayor Polly Sierer decided not to run for another term.
The likable Clifton was able to navigate through a yes vote on a controversial plan for a downtown hotel,noting that the council had little choice but to approve the proposal.
Councils typically have no choice but to approve projects that meet planning criteria or face lawsuits from developers. The municipalityis often on the losing end.
Another thorny problem is the city’s new party ordinance that could shut down get-togethers with as few as four people. The measure was fiercely opposed by many students and could heighten town and gown tensions.
On the plus side, the ordinance is popular with many residents who have struggled with mega-parties.
Clifton is used to calls from constituents, but will now be the public face of thorny issues ranging from snow plowing to parking and a torn up Main Street.
The hotel and party controversies also further the image of Newark as a town of party poopers with an anti-business bias.
The image was enhanced years ago by fierce and often fact-challenged opposition to the ill-conceived power plant-data center project on the University of Delaware STAR campus.
In an environment that seems to reflect the divide one sees here and elsewhere; Clifton represents areassuring choice. I wish him well. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.