Uni­ver­sity stu­dent run­ning for mayor

Ka­sai Guthrie, 21, to chal­lenge Sierer

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

A Uni­ver­sity of Delaware un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent will chal­lenge Polly Sierer in the up­com­ing elec­tion for mayor of Ne­wark.

Ka­sai Guthrie cel­e­brated his 21st birth­day by an­nounc­ing his can­di­dacy Dec. 19. How­ever, his nom­i­nat­ing pe­ti­tion has not yet been ac­cepted be­cause he does not have the re­quired 10 sig­na­tures from qual­i­fied vot­ers. He has un­til the fil­ing dead­line of Feb. 4 to ob­tain the sig­na­tures and of­fi­cially get on the bal­lot, City Sec­re­tary Re­nee Bens­ley said.

Guthrie is the first can­di­date to file for the April 9 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, but Sierer con­firmed to the Ne­wark Post that she in­tends to seek a third term.

If elected, Guthrie would be the youngest per­son to serve as mayor of Ne­wark. Two UD grad­u­ate stu­dents have been elected to city coun­cil – 23-year-old Kevin Vonck in 2004 and 22-year-old Ezra Temko in 2008 – but no stu­dent has ever served as mayor.

“Grow­ing up, I al­ways wanted to pro­vide a so­lu­tion for prob­lems,” Guthrie said after of­fi­cially fil­ing for can­di­dacy, cheered on by fam­ily mem­bers. “I al­ways wanted to be the so­lu­tion, or find so­lu­tions for the com­mon ground of peo­ple, so I thought, why not run for of­fice.”

Guthrie, who lives in a rental house on West Main Street, de­scribes him­self as an en­tre­pre­neur, mu­si­cian and fa­ther­hood ac­tivist. While a stu­dent at Glas­gow High School, he formed the We Need Our Fa­thers ini­tia­tive, which seeks to con­nect in­di­vid­u­als with their ab­sent fa­thers.

“I’ve al­ways been com­mit­ted to ser­vice, which is why I started the pro­gram,” he said. “Lately, I feel as though I was des­tined to make a big­ger change across the whole plat­form. And the best way to do it was to make change in my home­town.”

He was prompted to take a step into the po­lit­i­cal realm

fol­low­ing what he called dis­crim­i­na­tor y ex­pe­ri­ences with the Ne­wark Po­lice De­part­ment.

He ex­plained that after throw­ing a party, he and his room­mates were jailed.

“We didn’t re­ally like the way the po­lice han­dled the sit­u­a­tion, just be­cause we’ve thrown par­ties in the past with other Cau­casian fra­ter­ni­ties, and the po­lice han­dled it way dif­fer­ently,” he said. “That’s what re­ally sparked my in­ter­est into what’s wrong with Ne­wark.”

Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, he be­gan get­ting in­volved with the city in sev­eral ways, such as sur­vey­ing res­i­dents of lo­cal low-in­come apart­ments and stu­dents. He said he found that many didn’t know that Ne­wark had a mayor.

As he be­gins his cam­paign, he said his first plan

of ac­tion is to hear from res­i­dents, which he plans to do through can­vass­ing and an on­line sur vey.

“There’s a ques­tion­naire for Ne­wark res­i­dents, and it has about seven to eight ques­tions, and I wanted to get feed­back be­fore I put out my plan,” he said. “I wanted to ac­tu­ally take in ev­ery­body else’s wants and needs and for­mu­late my plan un­der that.”

Though he wants to base his plan around feed­back he re­ceives from the com­mu­nity, Guthrie is in­ter­ested in sev­eral dif­fer­ent is­sues – pri­mar­ily the gap be­tween the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and the com­mu­nity.

“I feel as though, me lead­ing the charge, me be­ing the cen­ter of the unity of all the coun­cil­men and the coun­cil, could def­i­nitely spark

change be­cause I’m close to the crowd of the stu­dents but I also can com­mu­ni­cate very well with older cit­i­zens,” he said. “I need to bridge that gap.”

He is also con­cerned about de­vel­op­ment, and the im­pact stu­dent hous­ing has on the com­mu­nity at large. He said that he has sched­uled sev­eral meet­ings with uni­ver­sity lead­ers and also wants to meet with lo­cal de­vel­op­ers.

“I want to talk to those de­vel­op­ers and also the uni­ver­sity to make sure that they’re of­fer­ing de­vel­op­ments not only for the stu­dents, but for low-in­come hous­ing and also se­nior ci­ti­zen res­i­dents,” he said.

Guthrie noted that the Christina School District has been a topic of dis­cus­sion at re­cent coun­cil meet­ings

and added that his ed­u­ca­tion was pri­mar­ily in Christina schools.

“So I can speak very flu­idly on what’s go­ing on in that school district,” he said, adding that he wants to fo­cus on get­ting more pro­grams to Ne­wark High School that deal with men­tal health and ill­ness be­cause he feels that’s a need. He also ex­plained that he has been talk­ing with Friends 4 Friends, an or­ga­ni­za­tion at UD that ad­vo­cates for men­tal well­ness.

Guthrie said he is cur­rently a part-time stu­dent and plans to con­tinue part-time so that he can ef­fec­tively bal­ance school and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mayor.

“Peo­ple might say my age is very young and might be hes­i­tant to vote for me,” he said. “If they want to

con­nect with the stu­dents and they want to build that bridge with the stu­dents, they’re go­ing to need one of the stu­dents ac­tu­ally out there, and I feel as though I can com­mu­ni­cate on both sides – stu­dents and also to the se­nior cit­i­zens and res­i­dents who live here in Ne­wark.”


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