Acting city manager, planner, take on ‘permanent’ roles in Dover

Dave Hugg

DOVER — Dover City Manager Donna Mitchell and City Planner Dave Hugg are no longer in the “acting” business when it comes to their jobs within the city.

During an executive session prior to Monday night’s Dover City Council meeting at City Hall, Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Hugg were given extensions in their roles with the city, taking the word “acting” from the front of their positions.

City Council President Tim Slavin announced the news near the end of Monday’s meeting. Details and terms of their extensions were not immediately revealed.

Council President Slavin said he thinks Dover has become a stronger city over the past half year under their direction.

“I think this sends a very clear message that about a year ago we faced a challenge where we had a turnover in leadership with our chief of police, our city manager and our city planner,” he said, “and we’ve sent a clear message to the city now that we are a stable form of government.

“We’ve come through that and we are stronger I believe than we were and we’re ready to move forward.”

Mrs. Mitchell took over as Dover’s acting city manager after Scott Koenig, who previously held the position, retired from that role on March 17 after working for the city for 27 years.

Mrs. Mitchell was named to the position “due to her number of years with the city and her extensive knowledge of its operations,” Dover City Clerk Traci McDowell said in March.

Mrs. Mitchell acknowledged that she had previously indicated she would not be an applicant for the city manager’s position. However, things changed over time.

“It feels nice,” she said, of being named permanent city manager. “After I got into it, I really kind of enjoy it with figuring out how it all works and seeing the operations side has really given me a new challenge. It also helps me understand everything a lot better.”

Every day in the role of city manager is a new challenge, according to Mrs. Mitchell.

“I think the biggest challenge is kind of looking at the operations and seeing how maybe we can do things a little different if possible,” she said, “because of all the major projects that we have that need to be looked at and how we’re going to fund them and the financing. That’s the biggest challenge — how do you make it all work?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Hugg was appointed as the acting director of planning and community development for Dover on March 31.

His original plans were to temporarily replace former City Planner Ann Marie Townshend, who accepted a job as city manager in Lewes.

Mr. Hugg retired as Smyrna’s town manager last December after 14 years leading different departments in the town.

“Mr. Hugg will guide us through this transition period in our planning office,” President Slavin said, back in March. “(His) experience(s) as a planner and as a former city manager mark him as an experienced leader in Delaware local government.”

Mr. Hugg’s original contract was only for six months, but now he has a greater vision for Dover — and more time to accomplish it.

“I’m hoping to remain on basically for another year,” Mr. Hugg said. “I think there are a lot of things that we got started that we need to get accomplished.

“There’s been a lot of improvements within the city over the past seven or eight months and I think we are on the cusp of a rebirth in the city of Dover.”

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

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