Chris Coons will be New Castle County Executive for four more years. Coons rolled to victory in Tuesdays Democratic primary, receiving 64.8 percent of the vote and easily defeating his top political adversary Tom Gordon’s bid for a third term in the county’s top job. Meanwhile, Paul Clark defeated Bill Dunn in the Democratic Primary for County Council President.
Chris Coons will be New Castle County Executive for four more years.
He rolled to victory in Tuesdays Democratic primary, with 64.8 percent of the vote, easily defeating his political adversary Tom Gordon’s bid for a third term in the county’s top job.
Coons received 31,405 votes to Gordon’s 17,088 – a margin so significant it seemed to surprise even those gathered at Coons victory party in Elsmere. Shouts of “we’ve got double the votes” and “two-to-one” were heard throughout the evening there as the totals were posted.
With no Republican in the running, Coons’ primary victory – which came on his 45th birthday – locked up a second term as County Executive. After thanking supporters last night, he touched on the margin of victory.
“I think the vote sends a pretty clear and strong message for us tonight, which is, character counts,” he said. “It sends a clear message that the people of New Castle County want a government that’s run right for them.”
Gordon was not at his Riverfront campaign headquarters last night and could not be reached for comment, but his campaign released a short statement thanking his supporters and congratulating Coons.
It was a quiet exit by a man who was very outspoken and passionate about the direction he had hoped to take the county with four more years at the helm. To some, Gordon, 56, seemed to be on a quest for redemption after federal fraud and racketeering charges stemming from his eight years in office from 1997-2004 were dropped last year. He campaigned promising no new taxes or fees and said he would restore the prosperity to the county that allowed him to build record cash reserves during his time in office.
He garnered several prominent endorsements, including the backing of two New Castle County unions, but apparently never made amends with the general public. Many at the polls Tuesday, like Eric Grayson, were unforgiving of Gordon's perceived wrongdoing in his first stint in office.
"I was not going to see Tom get back into county government," he said.
Coons rarely made an issue of Gordon’s legal troubles during the campaign, and instead focused largely on the candidates’ divergent fiscal outlooks for New Castle County.
Coons said his decisions to raise property taxes twice and cut significant capital programs during his first term were difficult ones, but he said he believes residents were grateful for the open, honest dialogue he had with them about the reality of the county’s financial situation.
“There are more tough choices ahead and more work to do, but I believe this is going to be a better county in the end,” he said.
Clark gets second term as Council President
In another countywide race, incumbent Paul Clark defeated Bill Dunn in the Democratic Primary for New Castle County Council President. Like the county executive race, there is no Republican running, meaning Clark will get another four years at the head of Council’s table.
Clark received 57.3 percent of the 42,887 votes cast – 5,600 fewer than Coons in the other countywide race.
Clark, 52, said he was pleased with the result and said he thought it reflected his efforts to reach out and be accessible to folks throughout the county.
“I’ve been to every meeting, from the farmers to the firemen, from civics to business groups,” he said. “I try to represent everybody.”
Dunn, 49, who entered the race in the eleventh hour, said he was amazed at how many people he was able to reach on a shoestring budget, with only six months to campaign. He said he thought receiving more than 40 percent of the vote added legitimacy to his candidacy and emboldened him to think he might run for office again.
“I hope it makes Paul maybe more conscious of how much he should focus on community input when making decisions,” Dunn said.
But Clark downplayed the margin, saying he didn’t do much campaigning either, because Dunn didn’t enter the race until late July.
Clark said his top priority for his second term is to make sure the county’s financial house is in order to the point where officials can devise a funding strategy for putting more police on the streets.