The resignation of former Delaware City Councilman Chris Jones last month sent the remaining members of council scrambling to fill the vacant seat with still three months left until the November election. Now, that temporary seat has been filled as Stephen Tackett was voted in by council following a series of candidate interviews held publicly on Thursday.
Jones had served on council since 2010 and was reelected in 2019 after running unopposed in the election.
Delaware’s city charter states a council seat vacated more than 90 days prior to an election must be filled on an interim basis until the public can decide its permanent representative. Residents of the First Ward will still have their say on a representative to finish out Jones’ term when they head to the polls in November.
Tackett was selected out of a pool of six total candidates, receiving three of the six votes in the initial round. Three additional candidates each received a single vote, whittling the pool down to four candidates. Following a second round of voting, Tackett received the necessary four votes to be awarded the vacant council seat.
“I decided to run because, plain and simple, I love Delaware,” Tackett told council during his interview. “I drive an hour to and from work every single day … I get asked all the time, ‘Why don’t you just move closer?’ Because I’m not giving up Delaware.”
Tackett said deciding to run was “pretty easy for me,” stating that he jumped at the opportunity as soon as heard there was a vacancy. He cited the several family members and friends who live in the First Ward, and the opportunity in front of him to represent them in council, as among the reasons for his excitement to vie for the open seat.
A lifelong Delaware resident who grew up in the First Ward and has since moved back into it, Tackett ran as a candidate in Delaware’s Second Ward race in 2019 but was ultimately beaten out by current Councilwoman Lisa Keller, who also began her time on council as an interim member in 2008 and has since been reelected three times. On Thursday, Tackett said he learned a lot from his 2019 campaign, and he admitted he was “extremely naive” going into that race.
“This time around, I’m more informed, and that’s why it was so easy for me to jump on this (opportunity),” he told council Thursday.
During his previous campaign, Tackett spoke often about the need for more affordable housing in Delaware. He told The Gazette in 2019, “One of the biggest things I have heard from people is they can’t afford to live here. … Delaware needs more affordable housing, and I want to be the one to help in trying to alleviate those money concerns for people.”
Tackett echoed that sentiment in front of council Thursday, citing several cases with childhood friends of his who have since moved out of the city as they could no longer afford to live there.
“I would like to have some kind of sway in the city to try and get more affordable housing in here. I’d like to keep the people who want to stay here, here,” he said.
Also among his biggest points of emphasis in 2019 was keeping Delaware separate from the sprawling growth happening south of the city.
“I always tell people I live in Delaware and work in Columbus for a reason,” he said in 2019. “I want to keep those two entities separate.”
Tackett will join council for the first time during its next meeting, which is scheduled for this upcoming Monday, July 12, in the council chambers at City Hall. Meetings are now open for the public to attend in person.