Sierer becomes Newark mayor as budget vote approaches

By Tom Lehman 9:47pm, December 3, 2013 - Updated 11:15pm, December 4, 2013
VIDEO: Newark Mayor Polly Sierer speaks with
Polly Sierer was sworn in as Newark's new mayor Tuesday night as she and city council members prepare for an upcoming vote on the city's budget.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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Sierer and city council are scheduled next week to vote on the proposed $43.5 million budget, which includes a 7.2-percent rate increase for water customers, a new storm-sewer fee and a 1.5 percent property tax hike for 2014.

Council voted last month to postpone a decision on the spending plan until Monday's meeting.

"I think it will be an effort Monday night that will be achievable for all of us to obtain," she said.

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The 55-year-old resident of the Christianstead community was elected last week in a special election. She will finish out the remainder of a three-year term started by Vance A. Funk III, whose resignation prompted the special contest to determine his successor.

Sierer said she's been preparing herself on the city's departments and functions to help ease her transition to mayor. She serves on the board of the Newark Senior Center and is also president of the Newark Area Welfare Committee.

"My biggest adjustment, at least initially, is there's going to be a learning curve," she said.

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The new mayor says she's now looking forward to facilitating collaboration between Newark residents and the city government, noting that she felt it was time to "begin some progress and begin some healing."

Sierer's swearing-in took place after a group of citizens including one of her opponents, Amy Roe, had urged state elections officials to postpone certification of last week's election results to investigate potential violations of the city's election code.

Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove said she saw no reason to delay Sierer's swearing-in and didn't find anything that would have changed the outcome of the election.

The residents requested an investigation into the activities of an advocacy group they say collaborated with Sierer's campaign. She has denied any coordination between her campaign and the political action committee, called I Like Polly's Plan.

State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove won't sue on the residents' behalf because she says even if the allegations amounted to campaign finance violations, there's no proof the conduct affected the election's outcome.

"Of course it's upsetting, but I think at this point it's between the complainants and the City of Newark and the Department of Elections and quite frankly I don't think it has anything to do with me," Sierer said.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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