DOVER — Time is running short for Kent County Levy Court candidates James “Jim” Hosfelt, a Republican, and Andrea Kreiner, a Democrat, in their race to become a 2nd District commissioner.
For the eight candidates seeking a seat in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Districts of Dover City Council, Candidates Night presented by the League of Women Voters at the Modern Maturity Center’s Palmer Room on Thursday night served as the perfect chance to get their views out in front of the public.
The event might have been a little more urgent for Mr. Hosfelt and Ms. Kreiner, who are facing off in a special election on Tuesday.
Both candidates had different takes on what the most pressing problem facing Kent County is.
“Infrastructure, it’s that simple,” said Mr. Hosfelt, who is currently a Dover City councilman in the 1st District. “We can have all the residential business growth we want, but if we don’t have the infrastructure in place to support it, what good are we doing?
“We need to support initiatives like the pipeline assessment program. These are things that if we are doing it right it could’ve prevented what we had in front of Postlethwait Middle School which caused at least 300,000 gallons of wastewater to dump into the St. Jones River.”
Ms. Kreiner said the most pressing issue is finding employment for young people in Kent County.
“The most important issue facing the county is jobs and opportunities for our young adults to raise their families here,” she said. “To do that we have to make sure that our current businesses succeed, we need to actively recruit new businesses based on our strengths.
“Our strengths range from our status as the No. 3 state in the country for fiber-optic systems, which makes us a perfect location for IT businesses, to our strong agricultural base.”
Candidates Night drew a large turnout of people interested in what local politicians had to say. Dover’s Municipal Election will be held on April 18.
The evening served as a coming-out party for many newcomers to the Dover political landscape.
William T. Garfinkel, Matthew J. Lindell and Tanner Wm. Polce are all running for a 1st District seat on Dover City Council.
James J. Galvin Jr. is taking on incumbent William F. Hare in the 2nd District and challengers Lance E. Moffa and Jane E. Rolles are going up against incumbent Fred A. Neil in the 3rd District.
They spoke on a variety of issues, including what they would do to try to solve the city’s homeless problem, what they would do to attract businesses to the area, what they would do to try to reinvigorate downtown and what should the city do with its aging power plants.
The answers were varied and passionate as voters got the opportunity to hear from all of the city council candidates for the first time.
It got spirited near the end of the debate when Councilman Neil took exception to being called part of “the old guard” by Mr. Moffa.
Austin Auen was a member of the audience. He said he got many of the answers he was hoping to hear.
“I think (the candidates) did well,” he said. “I think you heard the frustrations from the people up there and I think you heard the frustrations of those in the city government and just how meddlesome and tough it can be to get things done.
“Mr. Neil was getting attacked as ‘the old guard’ and he was just elected two years ago … so he’s already the old guard. It just shows you how quick the tables can turn.”
The event was moderated by Ellen O. Wasfi, who read off the questions to all of the Kent County Levy Court and Dover City Council candidates.
After making a three-minute introductory statement about their candidacy, each got one minute to answer a question written on index cards from audience members with a chance for a one-minute rebuttal.
All eligible candidates attended the event.
Dover City Council President Timothy A. Slavin and 4th District Councilman David L. Anderson are running unopposed and were unable to speak during the debate.
It was Mr. Hosfelt and Ms. Kreiner who had the most to gain – or lose – at Thursday’s debate. Both candidates had differing views of what the most important issues are for Kent County’s residents.
“No matter where I go the one thing I hear from Kent County residents is they are concerned about public safety,” Mr. Hosfelt said. “Our county and our state are overrun with illegal drugs and as a result you get hammered with all of the associated crimes that come with it.”
Ms. Kreiner turned much of her attention to improving the economy throughout the county.
“My focus on running is creating quality jobs and opportunities, growing and developing in a way that is logical and sustainable,” Ms. Kreiner said. “Helping our small businesses and farms be successful and creating strong, positive and vibrant communities.”
Mr. Lindell was pleased that the League of Women Voters provided a forum for each of the candidates to get their views out in front of the public and let them know where they stand on the issues.
“The League of Women Voters does the public a great service with events, such as the candidate debate night,” he said. “The ability of citizens to hear from the candidates and ask questions of those same candidates represents the heart of the democratic process.”
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.