WILMINGTON — Wilmington Treasurer Paul Fear, a Republican, announced Thursday at Wilmington Council that he will run for mayor of Wilmington as a write-in candidate.
“I’ve been interested ever since I found out that the mayor wasn’t going to run at the beginning of the year in the primary,” Fear told the Wilmington News Journal. “I did not want to interfere with the two candidates and make it too contested.”
Fear will face fellow Republican John Stanforth, who was chosen as the Republican nominee for mayor over Cindy Peterson, current president of council. The Clinton County Board of Elections still must certify Fear as a candidate at their board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 25, according to the board’s deputy director, Jay Peterson (Cindy Peterson’s husband).
The deadline for write-in candidates is Monday, Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. Candidates who filed to be on the ballot but weren’t certified, aren’t eligible to be write-in candidates, according to Jay Peterson.
Stanforth was at the council meeting when Fear announced his candidacy. In leaving, he wished Fear good luck.
“He’s done a very good job as treasurer for the City of Wilmington and I think he should continue in that capacity,” Stanforth said.
Fear said he thought Cindy Peterson, who is currently president of council and lost to Stanforth in the race for mayor in the May primary, was an experienced candidate. Since Stanforth won, Fear said he’s been following his progress and gauging his experience.
Now that he’s announced his candidacy, Fear believes he has “a different experience level” than Stanforth.
“I’m well aware of the numbers and finances,” he said. “I just felt like I was the best candidate at the time originally, but I didn’t, maybe for political reasons, didn’t want to get involved.
“I felt that there were two people and Cindy had the experience level I thought would have benefited” the city, Fear said.
Stanforth, meanwhile, said he’s getting up to speed on city business with help from Mayor Randy Riley.
Stanforth said he’s been attending council meetings, committee meetings, touring city facilities and meeting city department heads — including the water treatment plant and its supervisor Jerry Rowlands and the wastewater treatment plant and Harry McVey — and he intends to meet with Wilmington Police Chief Duane Weyand in September.
“I don’t think experience is that big of an issue, to tell you the truth,” Stanforth said. “Sixty percent of the voters didn’t think so.”
Fear said getting elected as a write-in candidate is “always difficult, but I just think that if you get the right people working with you, you can work it out.”
If elected mayor, Fear said he would focus on job creation, safety and balancing the city’s budget.
“Naturally I think everybody’s priority is job creation, to continue to make ourself attractive as a city and involved in the county to bring businesses and jobs to the area,” Fear said.
“We’ve been operating on a deficit the five years I’ve been (treasurer), and I know ever since DHL pulled out in ’09, we haven’t had a positive budget,” Fear continued. “I think they’ve done a good job in the last few years of looking at all the expenses. But as the auditor has mentioned, we need to look at revenues. I’m not saying we need for a real estate tax or an income tax. We need to look at costs, expenses first and then we need to back those up with revenues, whether it’s new jobs coming and taking care of it, because that’s what everybody’s been hoping’s going to do it” or finding other methods to increase revenue.
Stanforth, when he campaigned in May, said a balanced budget and economic development were priorities of his.
He said he wanted a balanced economy in Wilmington, not one where there was one major employer, and to foster a community where his grandchildren can live and work in Wilmington after they receive their education.
Jay Peterson said voters would be able to physically write a write-in candidate’s name on the ballot on a blank line.
He said poll workers are not allowed to verbally help voters by telling them the names of write-in candidates, but they can give out a list of such candidates.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.