Dover council to hold special meeting tonight


DOVER— The debate over the city’s form of government seems like a saga that might never end.

But council members hope to close that book soon after a special meeting tonight.

The meeting will be a public hearing to allow residents to express their opinions and views about the best form of government for the city.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Currently, the city manager, controller, city planner, city assessor and city clerk will report to council. All other city department heads report to the city manager. The police department and economic development office report to the mayor.

A year-long discussion has led to a series of votes and meetings by council to get the form of government to its current state.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. (4th Dist.) said the public hearing will not only educate residents, but members of council, as well.

“This is an important issue,” the councilman said. “We want to make sure we hear from everyone as that will help us moving forward.

“Right now, we have a gumbo form of government. We have a little bit of everything. It seems to be confusing as to what form of government we are currently in to not only the residents but members of council, too.”

Councilmen Sudler and Brian Lewis (2nd Dist.) held community meetings last week to hear from residents about the city’s form of government.

Brian E. Lewis

Brian E. Lewis

“I am a firm believer in transparency and think it’s important to build trust along with creating a good relationship between city government and the community,” Councilman Lewis said.

He said about 25 residents were in attendance and they were divided over which form of government was best for the city.

“Some residents wanted the mayor to have more authority,” Councilman Lewis said.

“They wanted the mayor to have a more active role in holding city administration like the city manager, planning director and other departments, accountable.”

Councilman Sudler said that was also the case during his meeting.

“Majority of them wanted a strong mayor form of government,” he said. “They wanted someone who is there on daily basis to address their concerns.

“They also wanted the office of economic development to be under the mayor’s control.”

During Councilman Lewis’s meeting, Mayor Robin Christiansen it was especially important to hear from city residents on the issue.

“In 1983 I ran for city council and I asked the question, ‘what does the city of Dover want to be when it grows up?”” he said. “In 2015 we’re asking the same question.

“I’m relying on the input of our residents and city council to see what’s the best direction for us to go in.”

Councilman Lewis agreed.

“I am a firm believer in accountability and don’t believe there is sufficient accountability in our current form of government,” he said.

“But I work for the people of the 2nd District of Dover and what they want is what counts, not what I want or believe in,” he added.

Councilman Sudler emphasized the importance of tonight’s meeting for city residents.

“I hope they ask a lot of questions,” he said. “I think some people are intimidated by council, or voicing their concerns in the council chambers.

“I would like to see for the discussion to move outside the chambers, which may better reflect what residents of the city want moving forward.”

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