The Wilmington City Council rejected a potential vote of no confidence for the Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

Wilmington council rejects vote of no confidence in mayor

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Government

The Wilmington City Council rejected a potential vote of no confidence for the Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

The Wilmington City Council rejected a potential vote of no confidence for the Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

A resolution for a vote of no confidence in Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki led to some strong words from the public and city council Thursday night, but it didn’t past. 

The discussion in Thursday night’s Wilmington City Council meeting was in response to public comments Purzycki made describing the council’s new law to keep city jobs open to only city residents as “mob rule.”

RELATED: Wilm. City Council members plead for residency requirement

Purzycki, who is in the last year of his second term, announced in fall 2023 that the city would no longer enforce city residency for current and newly hired city employees. 

Council members and others immediately pushed back, saying living local offers enough home-grown talent and also means accountability and responsiveness They were angry for the timing of Purzycki’s decision, which was made just hours after he announced he would not be seeking re-election. 

It’s widely believed outgoing Gov. John Carney will run for the mayor’s job.

A motion or vote of no confidence is a formal expression by a government body that an  officeholder is unfit to occupy their office.

The council made the residency requirement a law in November 2023 after the public strongly supported it during hearings.

Purzycki then released a statement that said “mob rule” replaced civil debate.

In Thursday’s hearing, several members of the public condemned the mayor’s comments.

“When he described it as a mob rule situation, he used a trigger word or what we call a dog whistle word that says to the general public that a lawless activity is taking place, that possibly intimidating activity is taking place,” said The Rev. Derrick Johnson, pastor at Joshua Harvest Church in Wilmington.

He said those comments were not mistakenly placed but rather strategically placed in a spirit that has captured American politics.

“It is a virus, a divisive virus strategy that’s been used all over our democracy that demeans and diminishes the people’s trust in the democratic process,” he said. 

Johnson said it was meant to send a message to Wilmington citizens that democracy did not take place, but lawless intimidation did. 

Another man said when “five Whites get together it’s a group, but when five Blacks get together it’s a mob.”

“The mayor harbors the exact same sentiment,” he said. “When a group of Whites get together talking about nothing, it is acceptable, but when Blacks get together talking about something, it is unacceptable.”

A woman said the people talked, and the council voted democratically, and the mayor wrongly said “mob rule” out of disappointment. 

Even so, she said, Purzycki has done a lot for the city. 

The no confidence resolution ultimately failed with just two ‘yes’ votes — from District 2 Councilwoman Shané Darby, the sponsor of the resolution, and Ernest “Trippi” Congo, president of Wilmington City Council.

The majority of council members said they were hurt, felt attacked and were opposed to the “mob” comment, but said there were other problems the council must deal with.

“We need to continue to move forward as a city, work on this budget, continuing on housing and EMS services,” said District 7 Councilman Chris Johnson. “I don’t condone his behavior, his statement.”

RELATED: Wilmington considering $3.5 million subsidy plan for EMS services

District 3 Councilwoman Zanthia Oliver and others said that Congo’s letter of condemnation in response to the mayor’s comments was sufficient enough. 

“I do think it was wrong, but I’m more interested in, you know, working on a budget, trying to help bring awareness to the opium addiction in my district,” she said. “Some of the issues that I’m addressing right now, this is not one. I think we need to get people registered and vote, take care of our constituents, and spend some time on some other stuff. I’ve got 100 things to worry about and the mayor’s not one.”

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