Seaford city election set for Saturday

SEAFORD – What will probably go down as the most unusual municipal election in Seaford history is set for Saturday.

With continued emphasis on absentee voting amid COVID-19, registered voters will decide three city government positions – mayor and two council terms.

For mayor, current city councilman James King is challenging three-term mayor David Genshaw. Seaford’s mayoral term is for two years.

For council, Alan Cranston, Jose Santos and incumbent Dan Henderson are seeking the two three-year council terms.

While Mr. Henderson is seeking re-election, councilman William Mulvaney is not seeking another council term.

Polls for in-person voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Seaford City Hall, 414 High St.

Originally, the 2020 election was to be held April 18 but was postponed as the coronavirus crisis hit the one-month mark.

“It absolutely is one of the more unusual elections,” said Seaford City Manager Charles Anderson. “And it has been difficult because we did have to postpone it. So, the Board of Elections had to make that decision. And above all, the Board of Elections was very concerned about the health and safety of the voters and the citizens – their friends and neighbors.”

David Genshaw

City promotion has focused on absentee ballot voting in an effort to reduce the number of people showing up to vote in person.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the city had received 299 absentee ballots. That number is in the ballpark in comparison to past elections. There are 1,356 eligible registered voters in the city of Seaford.

“We looked back at what does a typical election yield,” said Mr. Anderson. “Through the last few years, they pulled that information and it kind of bounces around between 300 and 500. So, the number we already have kind of puts us in or near a typical turnout. And what that says to me is the voters of the city of Seaford kind of heeded the warnings and recommendations of the Board of Elections, and they voted absentee as we have asked them.”

April 24 was the deadline to register.

Absentee ballots for registered voters can be obtained up to noon Friday and ballots can be dropped off at the drive-thru at city hall.

On Saturday, the drive-thru at city hall will also be open to cast absentee ballots.

James King

“We’ll take absentee ballots up until the polls close at 3 o’clock,” said Mr. Anderson.

Accommodations can be made with Seaford city clerk Tracy Torbert for an absentee ballot prior to the deadline.

“If you’re a shut-in, she will come to your house if she can. She will do the absentee ballot for you right there,” said Mr. Anderson.

Mayor Genshaw, elected to council in 2012, has served as Seaford mayor since the 2014 election in which he was unopposed. He had served as acting mayor the previous year when Mayor William Bennett vacated the mayor’s seat to accept employment with the city’s electrical department.

Mayor Genshaw won re-election in 2018 by a wide margin, by more than 300 votes.

Mr. King won election to council in 2018, garnering the most votes among a handful of candidates.

In the 2017, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Mulvaney were big winners in a three-candidate pool.

Social distancing and sanitizing measures will be implemented on Election Day at city hall.

“We want to shoot for no more than 10 people inside. One way in city hall, one way out after you vote,” said Mr. Anderson. “People will be social distanced on the sidewalk, waiting to get in. There will be someone outside metering people in. Hopefully the numbers will be lower so that we can maintain the social distance, and we can do all of the machine cleaning in between and all of that. That is the plan.”

Mr. Anderson said it was a tough decision on whether to move forward or whether to postpone a second time.

“But at some point, you really do run into continuity of government issues. We’ve got have a functioning council. Budget is coming up,” said Mr. Anderson.

“Then, the other issue is with the current situation. If you think about when they postponed it initially everybody I think at that time, including me, knew we were thinking, ‘We do this social distancing thing and we shelter in place for 35-40 days and things will be better.’ Then when we came out of that and we looked at it again, Sussex County was a hot spot. So, it didn’t get better. It was not what we thought.”

“So, do you continue to postpone and then it not be better, again?” Mr. Anderson said.

“They said we’ll just push these absentee ballots and allow that option. It is moving forward, and we have had an excellent turnout for absentees. I think it is going to go well.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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