Dover council candidates share views in survey

DOVER — Residents head to the polls April 21 to vote for a mayor and to fill four of nine seats on City Council.

Ten candidates, including three incumbents, are in the running for the council seats while three are campaigning to be mayor of the First State’s capital city.

People can meet the candidates Wednesday at a Candidates Night, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent County, the American Association of University Women’s Dover Chapter and the Modern Maturity Center. The event runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Ave.

Candidates invited include those running for mayor and the First, Second, Third and Fourth Council districts.

The Delaware State News recently surveyed the candidates on issues affecting the city and their respective districts.

FIRST DISTRICT Beverly Williams Profession: Chief administrator, Aid in Dover Inc., a private non-profit organization. Government Experience: Dover City Council First District Representative since 2002, council president  2004-2008, mayor July 2007, council president 2009-2010 and Utility Committee Chair since 2013 Jim Hosfelt Profession: Security manager, Dover International Speedway Government Experience: Retired Dover police officer with 26 years of experience, police chief 2010-2014, former committee member of Restoring Central Dover, Delaware Violent Crime Assistance Program. SECOND DISTRICT Brian E. Lewis Profession: Delaware Department of Corrections, Employee Development and Staff Training Division; former police officer with Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. Government Experience: Served four years on the Capital School Board of Education, vice president  2013-2014; served on the Dover Human Relations Commission  2008-2012 THIRD DISTRICT, Open Seat  Chevis R. Anderson Profession: Financial business and professional arts management Government Experience: Current member of Greater Dover Arts Council Fred A. Neil Profession: Executive secretary, Maryland State Pest Control Association Government Experience: Press officer, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer; public affairs officer, Maryland Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. THIRD DISTRICT David Bonar  Profession: Public advocate for the state of Delaware Government Service: Third District Dover Councilman 2010-2015, 15 years of utility regulatory experience. Scott W. Cole Profession: UniServ director at Delaware State Education Association Government Experience: Political organizer and advocate for 12,000 members working with local, state and federal leaders FOURTH DISTRICT  Wallace R. Dixon Profession: Retired, 38 years in the U.S. Air Force Government Experience: City of Dover Fourth Council District since 2012 and served continuously on the Delaware State Human Relations Commission and the Governor’s Council on Equal Employment Opportunity since 2007.  Kenneth Roach Profession: Family crisis therapist with Booker T. Washington Elementary School.  Government Experience: Fourth District representative on the Dover Human Relations Commission. Roy Sudler Jr. Profession: Chief executive officer of Mishoe Cove LLC., an independent living facility for seniors and those with disabilities, owner of Sudler & Mishoe General Contracting Builders LLC. Government Experience: Member of Dover’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee and Dover’s Title V Policy Prevention Board for at-risk youth, appointed by mayor to Dover’s Human Relations Commission in 2004 and elected chairman in 2010 to February 2014 Appointed by Gov. Jack Markell to serve on the State Human Relations Commission from 2014 to 2017

FIRST DISTRICT
Beverly Williams
Profession: Chief administrator, Aid in Dover Inc., a private non-profit organization.
Government Experience: Dover City Council First District Representative since 2002, council president 2004-2008, mayor July 2007, council president 2009-2010 and Utility Committee Chair since 2013
Jim Hosfelt
Profession: Security manager, Dover International Speedway
Government Experience: Retired Dover police officer with 26 years of experience, police chief 2010-2014, former committee member of Restoring Central Dover, Delaware Violent Crime Assistance Program.
SECOND DISTRICT
Brian E. Lewis
Profession: Delaware Department of Corrections, Employee Development and Staff Training Division; former police officer with Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.
Government Experience: Served four years on the Capital School Board of Education, vice president 2013-2014; served on the Dover Human Relations Commission 2008-2012
THIRD DISTRICT, Open Seat
Chevis R. Anderson
Profession: Financial business and professional arts management
Government Experience: Current member of Greater Dover Arts Council
Fred A. Neil
Profession: Executive secretary, Maryland State Pest Control Association
Government Experience: Press officer, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer; public affairs officer, Maryland Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
THIRD DISTRICT
David Bonar
Profession: Public advocate for the state of Delaware
Government Service: Third District Dover Councilman 2010-2015, 15 years of utility regulatory experience.
Scott W. Cole
Profession: UniServ director at Delaware State Education Association
Government Experience: Political organizer and advocate for 12,000 members working with local, state and federal leaders
FOURTH DISTRICT
Wallace R. Dixon
Profession: Retired, 38 years in the U.S. Air Force
Government Experience: City of Dover Fourth Council District since 2012 and served continuously on the Delaware State Human Relations Commission and the Governor’s Council on Equal Employment Opportunity since 2007.
Kenneth Roach
Profession: Family crisis therapist with Booker T. Washington Elementary School.
Government Experience: Fourth District representative on the Dover Human Relations Commission.
Roy Sudler Jr.
Profession: Chief executive officer of Mishoe Cove LLC., an independent living facility for seniors and those with disabilities, owner of Sudler & Mishoe General Contracting Builders LLC.
Government Experience: Member of Dover’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee and Dover’s Title V Policy Prevention Board for at-risk youth, appointed by mayor to Dover’s Human Relations Commission in 2004 and elected chairman in 2010 to February 2014 Appointed by Gov. Jack Markell to serve on the State Human Relations Commission from 2014 to 2017

What are your thoughts regarding the ongoing discussion about the responsibilities of the mayor and the city’s form of government?

MR. ANDERSON: I think that the residents of Dover should be more involved in these discussions. I want the illustrious Third District along with the rest of the city of Dover residents to remember that they have just as much say in what goes on in their city as the elected council members have. (Regarding) The full-time mayor vs. part-time mayor issue, I will always state this: Dover is a full-time city and deserves a full-time mayor and city council that is ready and willing to serve.

MR. BONAR: I believe that Dover must have a full-time mayor, to represent the city and attend the varied meetings and gatherings that are associated with the office. I do not believe the mayor should have control over the police department, but rather that control should rest with the police chief. The police department, financially, should be just like any other city department with reporting responsibilities to the city manager and director of finance and adhere to the same rules of accounting for finances as any other department. Having a mayor, in charge of the police department, in my view, leaves our citizens open to the potential for problems, as have been faced in other municipalities. The selection of a police chief, should be done through an interview process that includes, the mayor, city manager, human resources manager, head of the Public Safety Committee and council president who in turn recommend the candidate to be confirmed by City Council.

MR. COLE: As I have been walking the neighborhoods of the Third District, citizens seem to be more concerned with neighborhood safety. With that being said, I feel the appropriate role of the mayor is the same as council and that is to do what is right for the citizens and represent the voters to increase everyone’s quality of life.

MR. DIXON:   We need to make a decision in the best interest of  the people and the city’s form of government.

MR. HOSFELT: I am frustrated with the indecisiveness of City Council. Something this important should not have been rushed to a vote with little to no input from the residents. Furthermore, a vote on this important issue was taken with one district not properly represented due to a vacant council seat. The residents have spoken, although it was some time ago, and they want a full-time mayor. If we are going to have a full-time mayor then the position must have measurable responsibilities so the voters have a means to gauge the performance of the individual holding that office.

MR. LEWIS: Though, I am not opposed to the current form of our city government that was amended at the council meeting on March 23 meeting, I am always open to new ideas and suggestion by all the citizens of Dover in the future.

MR. NEIL: There is great value in a full-time mayor for the capital city of Delaware. I recognize the concern about who has the responsibility for the diverse income outlay for which the council must set of the tax rate.

MR. ROACH: In regard to the discussion about the responsibilities of the mayor and the city’s form of government, my hope is that the decisions that are made are in the best interest of the people. With any decision made there will always be supporters and opponents, but the intention should always be what is for those who you represent.

MR. SUDLER: I support a full-time strong council form of government system, where the mayor is empowered to make significant administrative decisions. This system essentially leaves the City Council members to handle the legislative matters of Dover, and the mayor responsible for the administrative operation, with the ability to make decisions quickly, when necessary. Having been selected by the majority of Dover residents from all districts, the mayor should be the chief executive officer of the city, having a wide range of non-partisan political independence.

MS. WILLIAMS: I support a council-city manager form of government. It has been my experience that the hybrid form of government that we have been using in the past has led to confusion and conflict between council and mayor and has consumed a lot of time. I believe the mayor should be the “point” person for Dover, the point of contact for citizens and business. The mayor should also be involved in a ceremonial capacity, not only the “face” of Dover, but also being Dover’s representative to the public and to other forms of government as a legislative liaison. Finally, I think the mayor should be in charge of economic development.

What do you hope to see moving forward regarding the issue?

MR. ANDERSON: That the mayor remains full-time, keeps the power to veto, and that the city manager will report to him, if the chief of police will report to the city manager.

MR. BONAR: The major issue moving forward is to design legislation that would change the way our city operates and have it approved by the General Assembly and develop a true job description for the mayor of our city.

MR. COLE: The issue moving forward should be as transparent as possible with all elected officials listening to and respecting the opinions of the citizens of Dover.

MR. DIXON:  I would like see this issue worked out in the best interest of the people and the city. I would like for us to make a decision and move on.

MR. HOSFELT: The city of Dover should have a full-time mayor. At a minimum the office of the mayor should oversee the Economic Development Office and act as the city’s liaison with state and county governments. The city manager should be appointed by council and held responsible for the daily operations of city government, to include oversight of all city departments with the exception of the city clerk’s office and the finance director. It should be expected that our city manager live within the boundaries of the city, sharing the same services we do and paying the same fees and taxes that are proposed in the budget.

MR. LEWIS: Right now I think we have more important matters to address in our community such as public safety and fiscal responsibility

MR. NEIL: Resolution.

MR. ROACH: Moving forward in regard to the responsibility of the mayor and the city’s form of government I hope that an informed decision is made. This decision should not only be made based on the success or failure of other governments. It should be a collaborative effort with the elected officials, employees, community leaders and most importantly the people.

MR. SUDLER: Residents need to know about the implications of a strong mayor system or how it differs from the present form of government; so, I hope to see educational workshops for the residents and additional public hearings on this topic since our city is growing rapidly. I think that it would behoove City Council to take the time out to research the pros and cons of our current modified city council manager government system versus strong mayor council government system in order to make a sound educated decision on what form of government is most desired by the constituents and taxpayers of Dover.
MS. WILLIAMS: I hope that the council president will submit a request to the General Assembly to amend the city charter to permit the police to report directly to the city manager, who reports directly to council. Secondly, I want City Council to amend the Dover code to transfer responsibility of the “conservator of peace” to the city manager, who again reports to council. Some people have suggested that the “conservator of “peace” should be an elected official, I would question how that changes anything if the police report to the city manager, but I would gladly collaborate if that title is placed with the council president.

What do you believe are the three most important issues facing this office and how would you address them?

MR. ANDERSON: The three issues are summed up in one statement, which is the quality of life for our residents. The only way to address it is to let my district know that I understand your feelings and together we will fix it.

MR. BONAR: The three most important issues facing our city are public safety, economic development and maintaining our sewer and water infrastructure. In addition, the council will have to decide in the next couple of years how to best rebuild our electric generating facilities, to avail ourselves of the capacity payments given to us by the PJM grid. We will also have to decide, at what level, we need to maintain services. Do we want a recreation department, and I believe we do, do we need our own economic development office, do we push harder for mass transit such as commuter rail and how do we best attract replacement for some of the “big box” stores that have vacated our area in the past several years.

MR. COLE: The three biggest issues in the Third District are neighborhood safety, senior citizen issues, and the advocacy for any encroachment issues that have an effect on the citizens. See below for how I would address them.

MR. DIXON: The first would be homeownership.  I would to see an economic development program which encourages home ownership. I hope to continue to work with an organization such as Habitat for Humanity. This organization has a long history of teaching people on home ownership. Secondly I would like an increase in parks and recreational facilities four our youth.  According to recent studies regarding Parks and Recreation in Dover, I agree with preliminary finding that cited we need to upgrade all parks and recreation cities. I will work with the Park and Recreations to develop a budget to address item. Finally I hope to have more low income senior citizen facilities. I hope to work with the officials to develop a plan of action to increase apartments and housing facilities for seniors.

MR. HOSFELT: The three most important issues facing city council are public safety, economic development and infrastructure. We need to take a three-prong approach towards public safety. First, we must continue to support the police department. Secondly, the Dover Fire Department has aging emergency equipment which must be replaced and not removed from the budget in order to help balance it. Lastly, the city also has to ensure that we have an ambulance service in place which can meet the needs of our residents. As a council, we need to continue supporting the Economic Development Office in their efforts to attract new businesses to Dover, businesses that will employ our available workforce.

MR. NEIL: I hope to take advantage of the post-recession swing by providing support for the special downtown economic zone. This would include replacing a lost planner position. Preparing for the closure of two aging power plants, I would seek to keep the tax rate low with new income such as a hotel room tax.

MR. ROACH: I feel the most important issues facing this office are the lack of the efficient utilization of the resources that are available to address issues such as economic development, community relations and fiscal responsibility. To address these issues I would need the help of the people to forge stronger relationships with the city. Also with existing entities such as Wilmington University, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College and Wesley College to keep and create additional resources for the city.

MR. SUDLER: A mayor’s job description, safer communities and improved community and police relations and economic development and allocation of contingency funds.

MS. WILLIAMS: Continue to keep residents and property safe. To continue to protect homeowners from unnecessary tax increases, and to continue to repair, maintain, and upgrade infrastructure while, at the same time, ensuring that utility fees remain as low as possible for residential customers.

What projects or initiatives would most help the people in your district?

MR. ANDERSON: Greater choices initiative, First Chance Program and for the community by the community. All three programs will be explained on April 15, 2015, or you can also follow and like chevis4dover on Facebook for more information.

MR. BONAR: I believe we are on the correct track in developing the Garrison Oak Technical Park. There are three commercial ventures on site now that will bring the city revenues that we did not previously have. The Calpine generation facility alone will bring us an estimated $2.3 million in new revenue through the sale of water. We did not have that opportunity a few years ago. I believe the GOTP is on the cusp of development into a site that could and should bring hundreds of new jobs that pay significant salaries.

MR. COLE: As crime rates have increased we need boots on the street as well as a multi-layered approach, looking at all levels of crime and their impact on the citizens. We also need a grass-roots effort to enhance relationships in our neighborhoods between local leaders and the community. As the number of senior citizens increases, I plan on recommending the return of the Services to Seniors Committee to ensure that the needs and quality of life standards are being met for everyone. I feel the most important job of the councilman is being an advocate and liaison for any issues that affect the citizens. To that end, I feel there is a better and more accountable way to do the work of City Council. I feel we can accomplish this by having a more open process by respecting the public’s opinion on topics and problems in the city. I would be accessible to the constituents at all times, available to answer questions or concerns they have about issues that arise with full transparency.

MR. DIXON: Those initiatives that I mentioned need to be addressed immediately.  However the danger concerning residents is a need for public safely.   I will work relentlessly with the  public safety to address our crime rate.

MR. HOSFELT: The Dover Police Department’s plan to enhance the Community Policing Unit can have a tremendous effect on public safety. We need to share in that responsibility and work with these officers by creating or re-establishing neighborhood watch programs. Communication between the residents of the First District and their elected city officials is an initiative I feel strongly about. When was the last time an elected official held a town hall style meeting in order to provide insight on city business and seek input from the residents? We know it hasn’t happened, but this can change. We need to do business differently.

MR. LEWIS: I would like to bring a new perspective to city government through making it a priority to return Dover to a path of fiscal responsibility with accountability from city leaders. My goal is to help bring people together to develop a comprehensive vision for a 21st century Dover. We need to preserve our quality of life as we face our future. The challenge before us is to provide core city services to all residence of Dover and at an affordable cost. We cannot just keep taxing the same people and businesses who are the very foundation of our community. There are creative and thoughtful solutions out there we just have to find them and make them work for us.

MR. NEIL: Keeping Dover Motorsports economically healthy as an economic piston while working with them to keep the quality of life high for residents dealing with Firefly and Big Barrel events.

MR. ROACH: In the Fourth District I feel that clear consistent communication is needed with the people. To achieve this I plan to generate correspondences that can be dispersed in the community. I also will work to see PAL re-implemented to build community relationships with our great law enforcement officers and our most valuable resource, children. I also will continue to be visible throughout the district. So often people are seen when votes are needed and once they are obtained candidates are no longer seen. But I will always be visible for the city and especially my district because we are the 4th district.

MR. SUDLER: Park and recreational facility with increased educational and social programs and activities for youth and senior citizens, increased employment opportunities and job and health fair initiatives. Also increased family support services, increased housing and mental health services and increased illegal gang and crime prevention programs.

MS. WILLIAMS: I think ensuring the safety and well-being of residents of the First District. Also I think finding new streams of revenue to pay for city services and infrastructure, so that homeowners are not burdened with more taxes or seen as the most convenient remedy for securing funds. Finally, continuing to maintain, repair, and upgrade our infrastructure, particularly our roads and water pipes.

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