108th Session of City Council Assumes Office – Approves Staff and New Committee Assignments

WILMINGTON – Last night, during the 108th Session of City Council’s operational meeting, City Treasurer DeWayne Sims, Council President Ernest “Trippi” Congo, and the members of Wilmington City Council were sworn in. Mayor Purzycki addressed City Council and the City of Wilmington and City Council adopted its governing rules and committee structure and confirmed the appointments of staff.

“Last night, a majority of Councilmembers were able to exercise their right to be involved in the staffing and operational procedures in a way that democracy intends,” said Council President Trippi Congo. “We are not always going to agree, but I believe that as long as we keep our eyes on the four pillars that will guide our work the 108th Session of Wilmington City Council will make history. Those pillars are:

One Council: We will work in unity and collaboration to serve our city and even when we disagree, we will respect our colleagues, not take it personal and move forward together

Advocacy: We will work to advocate on behalf of the least among us and become transformational in our vision and our actions

Community Engagement: We need to hear the voice of the community. From neighborhood meetings to participation in our committee and legislative meetings, Council and staff will work to encourage strong community engagement

Partnerships: We can not transform Wilmington alone. It is extremely important that we form alliances with local churches, nonprofits and grass roots organizations to help strengthen every community

I look forward to hitting the ground running, working with Mayor Mike Purzycki, Treasurer DeWayne Sims, my Council colleagues, our staff and most importantly the community, to move Wilmington forward.”

6th District Councilmember Yolanda McCoy had this to say, “I am not deterred, I am ready and still wish to work with all of Council as we recommit ourselves to addressing our city’s concerns.”

“I am looking forward to working with President Congo and my Council colleagues to advance the city,” Councilmember Nathan Field 8th District

Among the senior level staff selections, experienced nonprofit and political leader Daniel Walker was appointed and confirmed as Chief of Staff, seasoned City Council senior staffer Marchelle Basnight was appointed as Strategy & Policy Director, and Maribel Seijo was reappointed as City Clerk. Councilmember At-Large Maria Cabrera was voted in as President Pro-Tempore making her the first Hispanic woman to hold that position.

“I am honored to be the first Hispanic woman to serve as Pro Tempore. My mother would be proud. My commitment is to work with President Congo and Councilmembers to ensure accountability, transparency, and push for unity,” said Councilmember Maria Cabrera.

“It is an honor to be selected to work with Council President Congo and the rest of Wilmington City Council to advance their efforts. I have been privileged to work with many of Delaware’s political and nonprofit leaders and the weight of this opportunity is not lost on me. If I’m not mistaken, I will be the youngest Chief of Staff in Council history,” stated Chief of Staff Daniel Walker. “This move shows that Council is ready for new energy and a fresh approach. I am a firm believer that government works better when the elected officials are connected to the community they represent. Now, more than ever, Wilmington residents need a government that works for them.”

Wilmington City Council has also announced the following key staff appointments with several positions to be determined:

Akira Grenardo, Legislative Administrative Assistant
Traci Owens, Executive Administrative Assistant
Wendell Raulston, WITN Deputy Station Manager
Yesenia Taveras, Senior Producer/On-Air Talent
Mik Austin, Senior Producer/On-Air Talent
Amanda Robbins, Producer/Director
India Williams, Producer/Director
Saquan Stimpson, Digital Media & Content Producer

3rd District Councilmember Zanthia Oliver stated “Four years ago, I joined City Council because I was determined to fight for the 3rd District and this session is no different. I believe we have tremendous hills to climb as a city and we need all members of Council working together. I appreciate the debate and the democracy we displayed and know that we can only go up from here.”

“Our nation, state, and particularly our city, face unprecedented challenges and we cannot continue with business as usual,” said 7th District Councilmember Chris Johnson. “Across Wilmington, people are asking their elected officials to step up and do what is right. Last night, democracy was on display and I am ready to work. I look forward to working with the Administration, Council President Congo, my fellow Councilmembers, and our community to build a stronger Wilmington.”

At-Large Councilmember James Spadola stated, “My goal is for myself, and for all Council members to exceed the standard the voters had for us when they pushed our button in the voting booth. Over the next 4 years, let’s put the people of the City first and conduct Council business and ourselves in a manner that makes the residents proud.”

Wilmington City Council has also announced the following
committee assignments:

Finance & Economic Development
Chair: Christofer Johnson
Vice Chair: Michelle Harlee
Nathan Field
Zanthia Oliver
Loretta Walsh
James Spadola

Education, Youth & Family Services
Chair: Yolanda McCoy
Vice Chair: Linda Gray
Shane’ Darby
Bregetta Fields

Public Safety
Chair: Loretta Walsh
Vice Chair: Rysheema Dixon
Linda Gray
Christofer Johnson
Michelle Harlee
James Spadola

Health, Aging & Disabilities
Chair: Rysheema Dixon
Vice Chair: Maria Cabrera
Michelle Harlee
Yolanda McCoy
Bregetta Fields
Community Development & Urban Planning
Chair: Maria Cabrera
Vice Chair: Nathan Field
Yolanda McCoy
Bregetta Fields
James Spadola
Shane’ Darby

Chair: Linda Gray
Vice Chair: Shane’ Darby
Michelle Harlee
Yolanda McCoy
Zanthia Oliver

Public Works & Transportation
Chair: Zanthia Oliver
Vice Chair: Loretta Walsh
Linda Gray
Nathan Field
Bregetta Fields
James Spadola

Chair: Michelle Harlee
Vice Chair: Christofer Johnson
Shane’ Darby
Nathan Field
James Spadola

“I am looking forward to working with our new Council President and the 108th Session to move the 4th District and the City of Wilmington forward during these challenging times! Most importantly, I remain focused on doing the right things the right way,” Councilmember Michelle Harlee, 4th District.

“I am extremely proud of my votes and actions taken which represent the best interests of my constituents – working families and seniors. When I ran for my seat for the 5th District, I promised transparency and accountability. I will always vote with my constituents in mind. I promised to be a voice for the people, I sided with good ole common sense and look forward to working with leadership that has a plan to clean our city, create economic opportunities for our neighborhoods, protect our seniors and put people to work,” Councilmember Bregetta Fields, 5th District.

At-Large Councilmember Rysheema Dixon stated, “It was exciting to be sworn in for my second term and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure Wilmington is always at the forefront of our decisions. Thank you to our constituents for allowing us to be their servant leaders.”

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