Three Dover mayoral candidates share their views

DOVER — Three candidates are campaigning to be mayor of the First State’s capital city: the incumbent, a former mayor and a newcomer.

Regardless of who wins Tuesday’s election, he likely will have to address an ongoing issue: What should be the role of Dover’s mayor?

Last month city council, after flip-flopping from an earlier decision, voted to have all city departments except the city clerk’s office and the finance department report to the city manager. The council will appoint the city manager, who, in turn, will report to the council.

The mayor’s position would remain full time, but without defined responsibilities.

Currently, under the city charter, the mayor is considered the executive and chief official of the city. The mayor is a non-voting ex-officio member of all committees.

The mayor, under the current structure, is the daily overseer of the police department with input in its finances and also personnel matters.

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.

The Delaware State News recently surveyed the mayoral candidates — current mayor Robin Christiansen, former mayor Carleton Carey and George Gaudioso — on issues affecting the city.

Carleton Carey  Profession: Retired from Chesapeake Utilities after 25 years Government Experience: Served 10 years on Dover City Council, seven years as mayor of Dover, five years as a civilian representative on the Dover Utility Committee, two years as president of the Delaware League of Local Governments.

Carleton Carey
Profession: Retired from Chesapeake Utilities after 25 years
Government Experience: Served 10 years on Dover City Council, seven years as mayor of Dover, five years as a civilian representative on the Dover Utility Committee, two years as president of the Delaware League of Local Governments.

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

MR. CAREY: I think the mayor should be full time and be the chief executive officer of the city. The mayor’s responsibilities are spelled out in the mission statement for them. The mayor is elected by the citizens to be their representative. The city of Dover should have a mayor, city council form of government, because they are elected by the citizens.

MAYOR CHRISTIANSEN: We are in the early stages of what form of government will best serve Dover today, and in the future. I believe the mayor’s job should be the chief executive officer. He or she should remain in charge of the Police Department, maintaining direct responsibility for the safety of the community with one distinct point of accountability — the mayor. He/she should be the go-to person for issues raised by the constituents and should be the immediate daily point of contact for the chief operating officer (city manager) whose responsibility would be the day to day operations of the city departments, except the city clerk, treasurer and assessor directly reporting to the city council. The city manager would serve at the pleasure of council. This configuration would provide daily access and accountability to the citizens.

MR. GAUDIOSO: That is the primary reason I decided to become a candidate. I felt that the city council was ceding too much of its power to the mayor, and I wanted to foster discussion by presenting an alternative to the options that were being considered. I strongly support what has become known as Option D. It provides for a full-time mayor, which is what a lot of people seem to want. It requires few changes to the city’s charter and preserves the council’s authority. Also, a city manager can be easily removed for cause; a mayor not so easily.

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

MR. CAREY: The city of Dover should have a mayor-city council form of government because they are elected by the citizens.

Robin R. Christiansen Profession: Mayor of Dover Government Experience: 18 years on Dover City Council and 11 years as council president. Served on Charter Review Committee, president of Delaware League of Governments 1997-1998, and currently a member of the Executive Board.

Robin R. Christiansen
Profession: Mayor of Dover
Government Experience: 18 years on Dover City Council and 11 years as council president. Served on Charter Review Committee, president of Delaware League of Governments 1997-1998, and currently a member of the Executive Board.

MAYOR CHRISTIANSEN: I believe that it is the responsibility of mayor and council to sit down and resolve this issue. The concept of a full-time mayor with clearly defined responsibilities has been around for many years since the 1980s. When the first full-time mayor took office in 1997, council was remiss in assigning specific duties and so we continue the discussion today. We must have a meaningful dialogue that reflects the opinions, and needs of our citizens, not only today but as we look to a growing city full of opportunity and promise.

MR. GAUDIOSO: I would hope to see the adoption of Option D as Dover’s new form of government.

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

MR. CAREY: We need to bring in more new businesses which will bring new jobs to our city. We also need to work with our existing business owners to help them expand their businesses. While we are doing this it is very important that the city make sure that our electric, water, sewer and tax rates are comparable or less than other communities, cities and states. Doing this will help keep our existing businesses so we can be competitive and attract new businesses to our city that will create new jobs and revenue for our city.

I would address them by working with Dover City Council and also working with Kent County as well as state governments.

MAYOR CHRISTIANSEN: One would be public safety, guaranteeing that the citizens of Dover feel safe and secure in every part of our city. The elected official held accountable for that is the mayor. I think engaging in aggressive and highly competitive economic development strategies. The key to the revenue issues is bringing meaningful good paying jobs. Our real estate industry, both commercial and residential, will rebound and renew revenues into the property transfer funds, and along with renewed development help Dover begin to thrive.

Finally, we need to restore confidence to the citizens of Dover that our best days are ahead and we must all join together with a new energized spirit to make this happen.

George Gaudioso  Profession: Retired, has a bachelor’s of arts and master’s in business administration degrees  Government Experience: Local and state teachers’ associations’ representative. Active in Maple Glen Homeowners Association; delegate to Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund

George Gaudioso
Profession: Retired, has a bachelor’s of arts and master’s in business administration degrees
Government Experience: Local and state teachers’ associations’ representative. Active in Maple Glen Homeowners Association; delegate to Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund

MR. GAUDIOSO: Public safety has to be approached with a comprehensive plan of action. Hiring more police officers is only part of the answer. To find the root of the problem the most effective approach is community outreach. Go to where the problems exist and the areas that surround them and talk to the residents. I know that this sounds passé, but getting out and interacting with people in the community is the best way to keep them engaged.

With the local economy maintaining the businesses that are here and attracting new ones is a given. It’s easy to say and difficult to do. The Downtown Dover Development Incentives is a step in the right direction. This is without a doubt a great opportunity for investors.

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

MR. CAREY: We need to bring in more new businesses which will bring new jobs to our city. We also need to work with our existing business owners to help them expand their businesses. While we are doing this it is very important that the city make sure that our electric, water, sewer and tax rates are comparable or less than other communities, cities and states. Doing this will help keep our existing businesses so we can be competitive and attract new businesses to our city that will create new jobs and revenue for our city.

I would address them by working with Dover City Council and also working with Kent County as well as state governments.

MAYOR CHRISTIANSEN: As mayor and council, the day after the election all district lines fade and we all must work on behalf of all of the citizens of Dover. It is important that we as a team work to maintain the levels of city service that our citizens have come to expect. We must work diligently to find new sources of revenue to provide those services or enhance existing revenues. Each of us must, to the best of our abilities, work to market the city by continuing to make our city safe and with a quality of life that will make current and future residents a place we are all proud to call home.

MR. GAUDIOSO: The Downtown Dover Development Initiative would be at the top of my list. Potential new businesses and home buyers definitely take the time to inspect the area that they are considering settling in, and a city’s main street and its downtown areas are what many people view as an indication of a city’s social and economic health. That is why I feel the success of this initiative, financially supported by the state, the county and the city, is so important to our future.

The West Dover Connector is a project that has been part of the city of Dover’s comprehensive plan going back to mid-1990.

When it is completed, which is scheduled to be around May of 2017, it will shorten the travel time across the city, give easier access to the city’s industrial area, and alleviate some of the traffic that now has to filter through the local streets to reach U.S. 13.

E-mail comments to newsroom@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.