Williams says progress made during first six months

By Tom Lehman 9:36am, July 15, 2013 - Updated 4:07pm, July 15, 2013
VIDEO: Mayor Williams discusses his first six months in office with WDEL's Tom Lehman.
Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams says there's been some difficulty faced during his first six months in office, but also maintains his administration has improved the city since taking over in January.

WDEL's Tom Lehman sat down with the mayor to discuss his first six months in office in part one in a three part series looking at city government.

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Williams says the shooting of a Wilmington police officer and the deadly shootout at the New Castle County Courthouse earlier this year are among the challenges the administration has faced over the last several months. He also cites a number of staff moves and a tug-of-war with city council over the budget as difficulties encountered during his first six months in office.

"I think that we've done some great things," Williams says. "Arts in the Parks, we've engaged our children with summer jobs, I think our crime situation is under control--can it get better? Absolutely."

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Williams, who previously served as chair of the joint finance committee as a state representative, admits the transition from the General Assembly has been difficult at times, especially when dealing with the city’s budget. He was elected last year to succeed Jim Baker, who served a historic three terms in office as mayor.

"Here it's a lot different, I'm dealing with 13 city council persons and the city solicitors office represents city council and the mayor's side, which I found very difficult when I first walked through the doors," Williams says.

"One of the things I can tell you: I'm learning very fast. This time next year, I'm not gonna be flying by the seat of my pants, or I won't not understand how the city is running. I think I'm getting a great education, a baptism by fire, if you will."

That experience, he says, has already sparked ideas for handling next year’s budget.

"This time my entire administration won't be focused on it, we'll have a team of people who is focused on it," he says. "The rest of us will be running the city."

Williams also says there's also been improvements to response times from city employees.

"I believe that when things happen in the city such as when we had the storms and the trees were down, our public works were out that night, clearing the streets," he says. "People were coming out of there houses saying they had never seen this before."

Williams also says quality of life has been another area that’s seen positive improvements.

"You look at what we did on July 4, what we've done with the Clifford Brown Jazz concert," he says. "Sellouts. We had to close a number of streets down...that's never happened before."

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In part two of this three part series, Mayor Williams and Police Chief Christine Dunning discuss efforts to combat crime in Wilmington and city lawmakers react to early results

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