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Carney declares candidacy in Wilmington mayoral race

Katie Tabeling
Gov. John Carney Delaware DNA Bio Conference

Gov. John Carney has announced he is officially running for mayor of the city of Wilmington. | DBT FILE PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON — With the clock ticking on his last year in office, Governor John Carney has formally declared he has eyes set on a new act for his political career — Mayor of Wilmington.

The governor legally filed for the mayoral race on Monday morning, shortly after he appeared on DETV for a sit-down interview. He has long been exploring the idea, forming a campaign committee for the endeavor last November.

Carney had $107,900.59 in his campaign account between November and December 2023.

“We’ve driven new job creation in Wilmington, invested more than ever in affordable housing, expanded the Port of Wilmington, and built the first new public school in 50 years. As Mayor, I would stick to those priorities and focus on the future of our city,” Carney said in a press announcement late Monday morning.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki announced last fall that he would not seek a third term in office come November, citing a desire to spend time with his family. That leaves the ballot for Delaware’s largest city set with former city treasurer Velda Jones-Potter thus far.

While not a surprise, Carney’s announcement for the mayoral race confirms a historic run in Delaware politics. If elected, he will be the first governor to move to Wilmington’s mayor. Many governors have gone on to be congressmen, senators or federal appointees if they stayed in public service.

Carney served as Delaware’s representative between 2011 and 2017. Other notable stops on his resume include Secretary of Finance, Deputy Chief of Staff for then-Governor Tom Carper and Lt. Governor to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

Carney said he was not considering a run for the Senate. When he talked with the Delaware Business Times in the past, he indicated his next move had to work for his family. The governor has lived in the city for 40 years with his wife Tracey Quillen Carney.

Looking to the future, Carney said he wants to ensure Wilmington’s strength not only as a financial hub but also as a cultural center where families want to raise their children. In the last four years, he’s aimed to improve education, notably through the Wilmington Learning Collaborative, a network of courses across the city that improve outcomes through students as well as educator retention rates.

As governor during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carney was also tasked with allocating a strong portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act $925 million funds. He’s allocated $117 million for affordable housing projects throughout the state.

“I will work with state officials, school districts, and community leaders to improve public education in city schools. I will prioritize expanding affordable housing in Wilmington. I will invest in small and minority-owned businesses across the city,” Carney added.  “And as we’ve done at the state level, I will protect taxpayer dollars and make sure the city has a strong, sustainable financial position. I’m running for mayor because I love our city – and I believe Wilmington needs an experienced leader to move us forward.”

While the governor embarks on a mayoral campaign, he still has lingering day-to-day business in Dover as the legislative session is still in session.

Carney has already signaled he’s not looking to quietly end his last year in the governor’s mansion. He’s opened negotiations with the U.S. Wind to bring transmission lines to the Indian River Substation in Dagsboro in exchange for possible credits and millions in community causes. Carney has also thrown his support recently behind legislation that would create a framework for Delaware to participate more actively in the offshore wind farm market, be it building a wind farm or partnering with a neighboring state in a power purchase agreement. 

Carney has also supported the controversial House Bill 350 which would set up a statewide board focused on evaluating financials for the six major hospital systems in Delaware to ensure that costs fell within the state’s health care spending benchmark. He has repeatedly shared his concerns about the rising health care costs in the state budget; this year’s budget included $200 million to address health care inflation.

Carney will host a campaign kick-off event Monday evening at Delaware Technical Community College in Wilmington. 

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