Clifton wins mayoral election, 3 city council seats filled

Jerry Clifton
Jacob Baumgart/THE

Jerry Clifton, who has served on the City Council for 19 years, will succeed Polly Sierer and serve as Newark’s mayor.

Associate News Editor

Jerry Clifton, the current city council representative for District 2, won the mayoral election on Tuesday, earning 55% of the votes casted and defeating three other candidates.

Clifton, who has served on City Council for 19 years, said his transition from council member to mayor will focus on uniting all the city’s constituents, including university students.

“The message to students is this, very succinctly, I’m here for you too,” Clifton said. “When I said ‘I want to be a mayor for all people,’ I mean all people.”

Clifton, who has previously served as both deputy mayor and acting mayor said that maintaining this relationship will also depend on students participating in local government and regularly attending council meetings.

“The elephant in the room is for them to get involved too,” Clifton said. “It’s a two-way street.”

The mayor’s main duties are to lead City Council meetings and lead the city alongside the City Manager Tom Coleman. Clifton will succeed two-term mayor Polly Sierer.

With his new position, Clifton said his first task will be looking into Newark’s land usage as it continues to grow. He emphasized maintaining the town’s charming character, while also looking into ways to make Newark a more progressive city.

One progressive idea Clifton said he wants to explore is renewable energy. As it stands, Newark offers traditional electricity and utilities for its residents, which make up a large portion of the city’s income, Clifton said at a candidate debate last month.

“We have got to get away from the thinking that ‘Gee, I can’t change the status quo because we make money on it,’” Clifton said. “I would submit there are alternative energies that we can make money [on] and at less cost.”

Reanalyzing the city’s income model will also require the mayor-elect to look into how the city manages its debt, which totaled $15,269,835 as of 2017, according to the city’s most recent financial report.

More than $8 million of this debt comes from bonds the city government sold to fund the construction a water reservoir north of White Clay Creek.

Clifton said he would be comfortable with the city government assuming debt for projects like this, so long as they benefit the city and offer a clear path to repayment and future income.

To complete tasks like these, Clifton said he plans to utilize the diverse skill sets and knowledge of the City Council members going forward.

“Recognizing that I was a council member for the second district, you become more of a, what I hope to be, a collaborator and facilitator,” Clifton said.

He also said that he plans to meet with the candidates he ran against in the coming months to collaborate with them on some of their popular platform points.

The city council elections from the same day secured two of Clifton’s future colleagues on council.

Retired mortgage consultant Sharon Hughes won Clifton’s vacated seat, and attorney James Horning, Jr. defeated incumbent Mark Morehead by just 49 votes in the race for District 1’s seat.

Chris Hamilton, the sitting council member for District 4, retained his seat without an election because he ran unopposed.

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