Dover leaders hope retreat sets tone for a strong 2017

DOVER — Members of Dover’s City Council won’t be heading deep into the woods and holding hands while singing Kumbaya.

They will, however, be getting together for a what they call a “retreat” inside the conference room at City Hall on Friday for a long day of sharing ideas and their collective visions for the city.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said the city used to hold the retreat on an annual basis but hasn’t had one in a couple of years.

He added that City Council President Timothy A. Slavin thought it would be a good idea to reinstate the retreat among the city’s leaders.

“It’s basically a (retreat) format that will allow city staff, the mayor and city council a chance to address issues and kind of set a direction for council,” Mayor Christiansen said. “This will give us a chance to decide what direction we’d like to go.

“I cannot see it being anything but a positive direction and it will allow us to see what kind of interest we all have in what each of us considers the biggest needs throughout the city.”

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. said he is looking forward to the retreat, especially since he has discovered first-hand over the past year that representing constituents doesn’t come with a step-by-step handbook.

“Since I have been in office, I have experienced the highs and lows of being a public official and the personal sacrifice it takes to maintain a reputable image,” Mr. Sudler said. “So with that said, I am so looking forward to this retreat and I thank Council President Tim Slavin for deeming this retreat as imperative and essential for council members.”

Councilman David Anderson also thinks the retreat will be an important and informative day of discussion among city council members.

“We hope to set a vision and goals at this workshop,” said Mr. Anderson. “Then we will hopefully use this and the understanding of each other’s priorities to give guidance to staff to develop budget priorities both short and long term.

“I am pleased that our outreach on social media is getting some citizen interaction. It is their government, their city and their taxes after all.”

Friday’s Council Retreat begins with an introduction/warm-up session from 9 until 9:20 a.m. followed by a half-hour overview given by City Manager Scott Koenig and other departments.

The council will then discuss its vision and mission statement from 9:50 until 10:15 a.m. in answering the question “Where do we want to go?”

Councilmen from each of the city’s four districts will get the opportunity to present a pair of short term and two long-term goals for their respective district from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m.

“In regards to the retreat, my hope is that we as council members take that opportunity to share with one another their goals and objectives for their district,” Mr. Sudler said. “I look forward to working with each and every council member, but at the same time I’m expecting additional tools and resources to enhance my understanding of my duties and responsibilities as a councilman.”

Following a lunch break, council members will meet from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. to discuss various issues such as their visions, goals, strategic plan, among other items.

Councilman Anderson said the retreat should help City Council members understand each other’s priorities and how they should go about achieving their goals for the betterment of the city.

“I was an advocate of this planning workshop because I feel like we are practicing ready, shoot, aim instead of ready, aim, shoot,” he said. “We need to know where we are going and how to get there before jumping in the car.”

Councilman Sudler believes the retreat will set a positive tone for what the city will be able to achieve during the New Year.

“In 2017, I am enthusiastic about what we can accomplish collectively as a strong council with unique and diverse skill sets that will propel this great city of Dover to a higher quality of living and public safety,” Mr. Sudler said.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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