What Does At-Large Mean?

What Does At-Large Mean?

Quite simply, it means that at-large members represent the entire City, and appear on everyone’s ballot as long as you live within the City limits. That is in contrast to the 8 Council representatives who represent certain districts (usually a handful of neighborhoods), and only appear on your ballot if you live within that district. The intent is for the at-large representatives to look out for the City’s best interests as a whole, not just a specific district.

How Many At-Large Members Are There?

There are four 4 (at-large) members. Here is the quote (abbreviated for clarity) from the City Charter (Sec 2.101, full text here) that I will explain after:

 

“At the general election…one councilman shall be elected from each councilmanic district and four (4) from the city at large…Each elector shall have the right to vote for one district councilman…and (3) councilmen-at-large. To this end not more than three (3) candidates for councilmen-at-large shall be nominated pursuant to law by any party or other political body.

 

The last line in that section is super important to our race. It explains that there are four (4) at-large members, yet no more than three (3) from the same political party will appear on the general election ballot! This is why there has always been one Republican at-large representative on City Council.

This means that on your general election ballot, you will only see three (3) Democrats and three (3) Republicans for the at-large positions, despite the fact that FOUR (4) will win.

OK, Enough Gobbedly-Gook. What Does This Mean for Me?

It means that THREE Democrats and ONE Republican will win in November. The THREE Democrats that won the primary on September 15 (Loretta Walsh, Rysheema Dixon, and Maria Cabrera) will win easily and will receive nearly 20,000 votes because of how Democratic the City is. All 3 Republicans, myself included, would be fortunate to receive 7,000 votes each. So, if you want your vote to count and have a say in who the 4th at-large representative will be, I urge you to skip one of the Democrats, knowing they will win, and make your last vote count by voting for the best Republican – me! 

Do I Vote for Four (4) At-Large Members Since Four Will Win?

No. As outlined earlier in Section 2-1.101, you can only vote for three (3). So, if you want a say in who the Republican on City Council will be, I ask you to skip one of the Democrats on the general election ballot and cast your vote for me.

What are the chances more than one Republican will win?

The City of Wilmington votes very Democratically so it’s a virtual guarantee it will not happen. To demonstrate, let’s look at the results from the last two general elections for at-large (top 4 win).

 

2016 At-Large Results

(view full results here)

 

  • D – Loretta Walsh: 20,876 votes received (*won)
  • D – Samuel Guy: 18,854 votes received (*won)
  • D – Rysheema Dixon: 18,131 votes received (*won)
  • R – Ciro Adams (NOT Ciro Poppiti): 5,286 votes received (*won)
  • R – Benjamin Cohen: 5,275 votes received
  • R – Robert Kessler: 4,740 votes received
  • I – Emmanuel Macgruder: 1,394 votes received

The Republicans would have had to more than TRIPLE the number of votes they received to even come close to beating one of the Democrats. The Independent would have had to get TEN TIMES the amount to even come close to beating one of the Democrats. Neither of these are realistic possibilities in any sense in 2020.

So, I say with 100% confidence that the composition of City Council at-large after the Nov 3 election will be 3 Democrats and 1 Republican which means your most important vote on Nov 3 IS for one of the Republicans!

 

2012 At-Large Results

(view full results here)

 

  • D – Justen Wright: 21,803 votes received (*won)
  • D – Loretta Walsh: 21,141 votes received (*won)
  • D – Maria Cabrera: 19,488 votes received (*won)
  • R – Michael Brown: 6,007 votes received (*won)
  • R – Ciro Adams: 4,859 votes received

So, again, the Republicans would have had to triple the number of votes they received to be competitive with the Democrats. This is not a plausible scenario in 2020 by any means. Additionally, a perusal of every election result in recent history (going back to at least 1972) shows the composition of City Council at-large members to be 3 Democrats and 1 Republican. The vote disparity between the 3 Democrats and 1 Republican has been growing in recent years as well.

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