Newark council election: Nietubicz looks to bring his government experience to council

Ricky Nietubicz spent four years working for the city of Newark and now, after moving on to the private sector, he is looking to serve Newark in a different way – as a councilman.

If he is able to unseat District 3 incumbent Jen Wallace in the April 10 election, it would mark a rare move from city employee to elected official in Newark. However, it’s one for which Nietubicz believes he is well-suited.

“I have a really unique skill set and knowledge base to bring to the table,” the 31-year-old Newark Preserve resident said.

A native of Ellicott City, Md., Nietubicz moved to Newark to attend the University of Delaware, where he earned his undergraduate degree and a master’s in public administration. While still a student, he interned with the city’s planning department.

After graduation, he spent three years as a full-time employee for the Delaware State Fair before returning to the city to work as a planner in 2012. He was responsible for administering the Downtown Newark Partnership and later became the city’s spokesman and community affairs officer.

He left city government in 2016 and now does communication and marketing for Mishimoto Automotive, a New Castle company that makes high-performance car parts.

The former city planner said one of his priorities would be to have council re-examine the city’s zoning code, which he said is in need of an update.

“It would be a big undertaking, but it’s a worthy exercise,” he said.

One area to look at is the number of bedrooms allowed in apartment complexes, he said. While the zoning code restricts the density of units per acre, many developers build four- or six-bedroom units, maximizing the number of students they can pack into the building.

Nietubicz also wants to look at the STC zoning designation that council approved in March 2012 for the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. The code gives UD wide latitude over the development there, and most projects do not require approval from city council as they might in other areas of the city.

“We’ve seen some great things happen there,” he said. “We’ve seen some things that would be detrimental.”

Nietubicz, who as an intern did some of the early research the city used to develop the STC zoning, said UD’s plan for the site has changed significantly in the last decade, and the community should have a chance to weigh in on what it wants to see happen there.

“When that zoning was developed, the Chrysler buildings were still there,” he said. “Now we have some more information, it’s time to look at it. That would be my first priority.”

With UD planning to add more than 5,000 students, the ideal scenario would be for the university to build more on-campus housing, he said, though admitting that may not be feasible. He suggested UD look into building housing on a portion of the STAR Campus.

(Nietubicz’s wife, Kimberly, works as a senior policy analyst for UD Executive Vice President Alan Brangman. “We both have our day jobs,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe there will be any conflicts.)

Nietubicz said the city needs to work with developers to ensure projects have the minimum possible impact on the surrounding community. An example, he said, is the recent Park N Shop proposal, which ultimately was tabled by council. While he understands residents’ lingering concerns, he praised the developer for working with the community throughout the process.

Nietubicz said he is disappointed city council never voted on the five proposals to build a mixed-use parking structure behind the Main Street Galleria. As part of a public-private partnership, the developers would build the structure and lease the garage portion to the city. One by Lang Development Group would charge no annual fee, just a portion of the revenue collected.

“There’s no risk to the taxpayer and no outlay to the taxpayer and taxpayers benefit because there’s a revenue stream,” he said. “Why would we not do that?”

Nietubicz wants to help improve the relationship between city council and city staff, which at times can be tense.

“Hiring a new city manager is a good chance to hit the reset button,” he said.

He also wants to improve communication to residents in his district.

“Right now, the onus is on the resident to take the first step to be informed. Council’s duty is to take ownership of informing residents,” he said, adding that, if elected, he would regularly mail newsletters to everyone in his district, rather than only those who sign up for an email list.

“I have some ideas of how I could better serve the district,” he said.


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