WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams: Did he believe his own campaign rhetoric about reducing shootings?

It's our headline story upstate: Another violent weekend in the streets of the City of Wilmington.

One shooting fatality (near the Hicks Anderson Community Center); four other shootings; one stabbing.

I know I've blogged about the Wilmington violence before (and the Williams Administration's response to it).

(In fairness, the number of shooting fatalities within the city-limits is running behind last year: Ten - including the courthouse shootings - vs. 18 during the same time period.)

But a question struck me this morning.

When Dennis Williams was campaigning last year, as the former cop, he delivered a forceful anti-crime message, particularly about violent crime.

It would be a whole new city, we were told. We'd notice the difference within six months.

Some of us were skeptical. Candidate Dennis Williams was promising a miracle. And although new strategies might make a difference, there was likely no quick fix given the seemingly intractable root causes, including Wilmington's geographic position along the prime I-95 Mid-Atlantic/Northeastern corridor (similar to how our geographic position places us both upwind and downwind for pollution).

It reminded me of the uplifting optimistic rhetoric from many politicians during the 2008 campaign, seemingly oblivious to the looming catastrophic recession. If you had half a brain, you knew things were going to get very, very bad.

So here is my question: When then-candidate Dennis Williams promised that remarkable transformation for the City of Wilmington within half a year, do you think he BELIEVED his own rhetoric? Given his law-enforcement background, given his promised hands-on approach (in contrast to outgoing Mayor Jim Baker, who was disinclined to go out, and feel the victims' pain), did Dennis Williams BELIEVE - from the beginning - that he could make that kind of a difference? Or, perhaps, did he say it so often, he convinced himself?

Or, cynically, as the hardened former cop who grew up under difficult circumstances - while committed to trying different approaches, while doing his damnest to alter this arc of violence - do you think Dennis Williams privately realized from the start that it was highly unlikely his new administration could drastically reduce the street violence, but the candidate persisted in making such majestic, overreaching promises because... well, that's what successful candidates must do?

Posted at 7:20am on August 5, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 9:27am
Perception is part of the rule, and you perceive that little change has taken place. However, that is over 50% (55% actually). As crime statistics go, that is huge. As a reference, I saw New York was happy being down 11%....

Although hard to verify, based on numbers alone, had our mayor been Montgomery, there would be 8 less people alive today. Although as you said, perception may not meet the reality, but to those 8 people whoever they might be, they should be thanking their stars that Williams won.

(and keep in mind, at the time of his utterances, he thought he'd have a lot more than $248 million to work with. )

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 9:31am
If you factor out the courthouse shootings, (who could have predicted that since it came up from Texas, America's hotbed of irrationality) that would be 7 killed or a 62% drop.

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 6:28pm
I think Mayor Williams has done better than I would have expected. It will take years just to get Wilmington back to where it's as safe or safer than Chester.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Aug 7, 2013 8:20am
Saw the heard the WDEL news story about the mayor now going to take a heavy-handed approach, that won't violate the US Constitution. I say, it's about time.

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