Wallace, Lawhorn win
Wallace earns second term; Lawhorn takes District 5 seat
District 3 voters gave incumbent Jen Wallace a second term on city council, while Jason Lawhorn emerged from a field of newcomers to win the District 5 seat on Tuesday night.
Wallace won 69 percent of the 484 votes cast in District 3, defeating former city employee Ricky Nietubicz, who secured 31 percent of the vote.
A 46-year-old resident of Barksdale Estates, Wallace was the leader of Newark Residents Against the Power Plant before being elected to council in 2016. She works as membership and marketing coordinator for the American Society of Cytopathology and as a freelance writer.
“It feels great,” Wallace said shortly after the results were announced at city hall. “I feel like I have the support of the residents of District 3 and I think they spoke today that they’re happy with the leadership they have.”
She thanked Nietubicz for running a good campaign.
“I think he did a great job and I was happy to have the challenge,” she said. “It’s good to have a little bit of a challenge. It makes you work hard.”
Wallace attributed her victory to the effort she has made to keep District 3 residents engaged in city politics.
“We had a lot of momentum after the power plant,” she said. “A lot of people were engaged, and I’ve been working to try to keep that momentum because we do need to have residents engaged. It’s necessary for us on council to do our jobs.”
There will be plenty to keep her and the rest of council busy in the coming months, she said.
“We’ve got the referendum coming up and that’s going to be a big part of my job, making sure residents have the information they need to make an informed decision about that,” she said. “Then right on the heels of that, we’re going to be beginning with the budget. There’s no rest.”
Meanwhile in District 5, Lawhorn won approximately 68 percent of the 469 votes cast, defeating Lena Thayer and Neel Barua, who earned just under 21 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
A 41-year-old Fairfield resident, Lawhorn works as research manager for Advanced Materials Technologies in Wilmington. Tuesday’s race was his first foray into politics. Lawhorn will replace Luke Chapman, who endorsed him after choosing not to seek a fourth term.
“I’m excited to be able to work for my neighbors and I’m ready to get started,” Lawhorn said Tuesday night.
He attributed his victory to hard work.
“I got out there early and talked with residents,” he said. “I was very candid, open and honest.”
Lawhorn said he hopes to speak with Thayer and Barua to hear some of their ideas as well, adding that he learned a lot from talking to voters in his district.
“I think we have some big issues coming up with the city manager hire and the referendum,” he said. “I want to work with all the council members and the mayor to hopefully continue to improve our relationship with the city staff a little bit and improve the decorum of how city council works with one another.”
In District 6, Stu Markham ran unopposed, earning his seventh term on council.
“I’d like to congratulate Councilwoman Wallace on her successful re-election and welcome Jason Lawhorn to council,” Markham said in a prepared statement. “We are tasked with tackling important issues impacting the city, particularly over the next several months, and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure we’re making the best decisions for those we represent.”
Wallace, Lawhorn and Markham will be sworn in for two-year terms on April 19.
Turnout in Tuesday’s election was 12 percent in District 3 and 22 percent in District 5.
District 5 candidate Jason Lawhorn greets voters outside the First Presbyterian Church of Newark on Tuesday.
District 3 incumbent Jen Wallace (left) talks to voters outside the Aetna fire station on Thorn Lane on Tuesday.