After a three-month delay due to the pandemic, Newark residents in two districts will go to the polls July 28 to vote for their next city council member.
The election originally was planned for April 14, but after the coronavirus outbreak began, Gov. John Carney ordered all elections postponed. He has since lifted that order, and on Tuesday, city council approved the new date.
There was some debate over whether the city would have to start over and open the process to new candidates. However, the city solicitor, in consultation with the state election department, determined the process could simply pick up from where it left off.
That means there are only two contested seats.
In District 3, newcomers Jay Bancroft and Anthony Sinibaldi are vying for the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Jen Wallace, who is not seeking a third term. District 3 covers the southwest part of Newark and includes Devon, Binns, Arbour Park, Barksdale Estates, College Park, Newark Preserve, Abbotsford, Twin Lakes and surrounding neighborhoods.
In District 5, newcomer Brian K. Anderson is challenging incumbent Jason Lawhorn, who is seeking a second term. District 5 is located in the northwest part of the city and includes Christianstead, West Branch, Fairfield, Fairfield Crest, Terry Manor, most of New London Road and surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, newcomer Travis McDermott is unopposed for the District 6 seat and will be declared the winner. He will replace Stu Markham, who is retiring after 14 years on council.
City officials are urging residents to vote by absentee ballot in order to avoid possible exposure to coronavirus at a polling place.
In March, before the election was postponed, the city took the unusual step of proactively mailing absentee ballot affidavits to every registered voter in the two contested districts – a total of approximately 6,000 people. More than 800 already returned their affidavit and will be sent a ballot prior to the July election. Officials will also do a second mailing so additional residents can request a ballot.
For those who wish to vote in person, there will still be a polling place open in each district.
The District 3 polling place has been moved from the Aetna fire station to West Park Place Elementary School due to coronavirus contamination concerns. District 5 residents will vote at the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, as usual.
Poll workers will be provided with face masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer. Between each voter, the voting machines will be sanitized with alcohol pads. Voters will each use a different pen to sign in and will be told to take the pen with them when they leave.
Voting is open to any person 18 or older who is registered to vote with the state of Delaware at a residence within the corporate limits of Newark. Those who are not registered have until July 6 to do so.
The winners of the election will be sworn in Aug. 6 and will serve until April 2022.