Swearing in

Councilman Travis McDermott is sworn in by City Secretary Renee Bensley in August 2020.

Councilman Travis McDermott was selected by his fellow council members Monday to serve as deputy mayor.

The deputy mayor, chosen from among the six council members, presides over meetings when the mayor is absent. The position was previously held by Councilman James Horning Jr. who resigned last month, citing personal issues.

McDermott was elected in 2020 to represent District 6. A resident of the Hunt at Louviers, he is a 21-year veteran of the New Castle County Police Department, where he serves as a lieutenant overseeing recruitment, professional development and the police academy.

“I’ve seen him to be calm under pressure and a clear thinker. The fact he’s a police officer serving and training is more than a plus,” said Councilwoman Dwendolyn Creecy, who motioned to appoint him deputy mayor. “I like his even way of looking at matters we discuss or vote on.”

Traditionally, the position of deputy mayor has gone to the longest-serving council member, but council has twice skipped over Councilman Jason Lawhorn, who has served longer than both Horning and McDermott.

Council approved McDermott’s appointment 4-1, with Councilman Jay Bancroft opposed.

“I think I should be mayor, I mean deputy mayor,” Bancroft said, quickly correcting himself. “I think I have a smooth demeanor and calm disposition and I think I have more broad experience in different cities that could give perspective on the things the city does. I promise to do my homework and keep things moving on city council and do the best for the people.”

Lawhorn did not vote, though it’s not clear why. He was shown as attending the virtual meeting and spoke on other topics, but he did not respond when Clifton asked how he was voting.

McDermott won’t have to wait long to wield the gavel. With Mayor Jerry Clifton on vacation, McDermott will run Monday’s council meeting.

Meanwhile, District 1 voters will go to the polls July 20 in a special election to select someone to fill Horning’s council seat. The winner of the election will fill the remainder of Horning’s term, which runs through April 2023.

Candidates have until Monday to file to run in the election.

In order to be eligible to run, a potential candidate must be a registered voter, reside in the district he or she is seeking to represent, have lived in the city for at least one year and submit a nominating petition signed by 10 qualified voters in the district. Those interested should contact City Secretary Renee Bensley at citysecretary@newark.de.us or 302-366-7000.

District 1 encompasses the western part of the city, including Nottingham Green, Nottingham Manor, Oaklands, Cherry Hill, Timber Creek, Hunting Hills, Country Hills, Valley Stream, Briarcreek, Pheasant Run, Christine Manor and surrounding areas.

So far, two people have picked up the paperwork necessary to run.

While in-person voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Newark Wesleyan Church, 708 W. Church Road, residents are encouraged to vote by absentee ballot. The city will send an absentee ballot request form to every registered voter in the district.

The voter registration deadline is June 28. The city uses the same voter database as the state, so any District 1 resident who is registered to vote in November state and federal elections is also registered to vote in Newark elections.

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