Dover voters to decide city council races today

DOVER — Eight candidates are bying for three contested seats on city council.

City Clerk Traci McDowell is hoping the wide range of candidates will help spark a large voter turnout for the contested seats in Dover’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Districts.

“It’s definitely always good to have a big turnout for our city elections,” Ms. McDowell said. “A lot of work goes into the election process and we like to see a lot of people come out and participate in the process of electing their city officials.”

The polls for today’s elections will open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m.

The votes cast from each district in the Municipal Election will be tallied at the Elks Lodge #1903 located at 200 Saulsbury Road. It is anticipated the results will be made available at around 8:30 p.m.

Dover City Council President Tim Slavin (at-large) and David Anderson (4th District) are running unopposed and are assured terms of four more years.

With 1st District City Councilman James Hutchison Sr. set to retire in May, three candidates are vying for his soon-to-be-vacated chair: William Garfinkel, Matthew Lindell and Tanner Polce.

Voters in the 1st district will cast their ballots at The Elks Lodge #1903 at 200 Saulsbury Road. The entrance to the polling place is located at the rear of the building.

In the 2nd District, James Galvin is challenging incumbent William “Bill” Hare. The polling place is at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 647 Wyoming Avenue.

Meanwhile, challengers Lance Moffa and Jane Rolfes are taking on incumbent Fred Neil in the 3rd District, where voters will cast their ballots at the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church at 425 North DuPont Highway.

Ms. McDowell said the city elections, which take place every other year, are an exciting time for her office.

She said that herself, Assistant City Clerk Denise Devine and assistants Jody Stein and Debbie Krueger have been busy since Dec. 1, keeping their eyes focused on a 41-page, 120-step checklist that clicks off every single step of the electoral process.

Today, Election Day, will provide another hectic day for Ms. McDowell’s office — followed by just a little bit of much-needed relief.

“They have been busy days leading up to the election, but I look forward to them,” said Ms. McDowell. “It’s a very exciting process. There is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility involved in the election process, so we’re always glad when it’s over.”

Numbers and trends

Ms. McDowell said that even though there is more work for her office to do when more people turn out to vote, she prefers to see large numbers of voters at the polls.

In 2015, the last time Dover held a Municipal Election, only 2,116 of 22,837 (9.27 percent) of the registered voters in the city turned out to vote. Change was also in the air in Dover’s last election, when three incumbent members of city council were voted out and two other vacant seats were filled.

Mr. Moffa wouldn’t be surprised if the theme of change were to repeat itself in today’s election.

“Current leadership has not been effective for us with equal representation,” he said. “Dover can do better and will with the right people, in the right positions, that are willing to work and be accountable.

“The politicians are becoming preoccupied with drama and issues that hinder our progression.”

Mr. Neil has only served two years as a 3rd District councilman. He is hoping for more time after he filled a council seat that was left vacant after Rep. Sean Lynn resigned on Nov. 5, 2014, following his election to the state House of Representatives.

“My hope is to finish unfinished business,” Mr. Neil said. “When elected in 2015, I discovered that there were a large number of things such as complaints from citizens that were not resolved, and concerns such as the old (Dover) library that remained.”

Election … Part II

In an intriguing twist to this year’s election, former City Councilman Jim Hosfelt Jr. won a special election on March 21 to become a Kent County Levy Court commissioner. Hosfelt left the remaining 1st District seat on city council vacant, which will force another special election on May 16.

So far, Ronald G. Poliquin is the only candidate who has filed to run in the special election.

“My main priority is to stand up for taxpayers,” Mr. Poliquin said. “We need to hold the line on taxes, squeeze out government waste and implement initiatives to create and keep jobs in Dover.”

However, there is time for two of the three candidates running today for Hutchison’s position to possibly re-file their petitions and try again in the special election, as well as other interested individuals.

Nomination of candidates for the 1st District seat will be by petition, which along with the statement of eligibility requirements, must be filed with the city clerk’s office for confirmation at or before Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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

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