Dover residents seek effective government

DOVER — The city  has had countless discussions regarding the city’s form of government. But Dover resident Joan Denney believes it should remain the same.

“I think that our charter and the way that we have been governed have served us well for many years,” she said.

“It should stay how it is now. I think we should rely on our mayor and council to make decisions,” she added.

That seemed to be the opinion of residents who voiced their opinions about the city’s form of government during a special council meeting Wednesday night.

“The strong message that we got from the public tonight was to let things be,” said Council President Timothy Slavin.

Timothy A. Slavin

Timothy A. Slavin

“What they are really interested in is an effective government. They’re not talking about the form of government.

They’re talking about crime and other issues.”

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.

“There were many discussions,” Mr. Slavin said. “No concensus has emerged. The actions that we’ve taken as council were contradictory. We confused the public and they’ve lost trust in us on this issue.

“This entire discussion about the form of government was really a problem of our own making.”

Ms. Denney said the decisions were “knee jerk” reactions.

“I think it’s a reaction to something that happened,” Ms. Denney said. “I think it just happened, which caused people to think what are we going to do and how do we not have this happen again? The government shouldn’t operate on knee jerk reactions.”

All of the councilmen got the opinions of their constituents in different ways regarding the matter.

They held community meetings, went door to door or used social media to hear from residents about their thoughts on the subject.

Many of the councilmen expressed that residents wanted the form of government to remain the same.

“During our community meeting it was divided, but in the interim I have been out knocking on doors and their feeling is if it’s working the way it is then we should just leave it alone,” Councilman William Hare said.

“That’s probably a representative of 50 to 60 people.”

City resident Ron Harmon agreed.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the city,” he said. “I know that election doesn’t turn out a lot of people, but the people elected the mayor to serve the city and it shouldn’t be diminished by council.

“The citizens wanted him to be mayor. I think we should leave it alone and make things better in Dover.”

Mr. Slavin said if any councilman believes the form of government should be changed then they should have a strong proposal moving forward.

“If they want to bring a proposal there has to be a lot of depth to it,” Mr. Slavin said. “It has to have a lot of details and the time for that is now. How much is it going to cost us? What effect does it have on the charter?

“If someone wants to bring one forward it’s incumbent on them to bring a strong proposal,” Mr. Slavin added.

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