Hare retains Dover council presidency; Mayor gives optimistic State of City

William Hare

DOVER — William “Bill” Hare pulled in the majority of votes among Dover City Council members over challenger Roy Sudler Jr. to retain his position as city council president for a second year at Monday night’s virtual council meeting.

City Solicitor Nicholas H. Rodriguez called each member of Dover’s council during a recess period and tallied each vote by phone.

City President Hare said the past year “has been a learning curve” and he hopes to provide a smoother ride during his second year as council president.

Mr. Hare said at a meeting last week that he has the experience to help guide city council through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Roy Sudler

“The nation, the state and the city have all taken unprecedented economic blows from this COVID-19 virus recently,” Councilman Hare said. “What we can do and how we can do it depends on what the governor decrees in this time of emergency. Citizens of the city have been severely impacted, just as the anticipated income flowing into the city coffers is struck significantly.

“We now must prepare a budget recognizing and, hopefully, (there will be) no tax increase and no cuts in service will be needed while keeping our residents and visitors out of harm’s way.”

Councilman Hare is in his second term as a representative of the city’s 2nd District. He served his first term from 1991-1997 and has been a council member since being voted back in May 2011.

Mr. Hare was elected to serve as Dover City Council president/vice-mayor at the annual meeting last May. Councilman Tanner Polce nominated him to the council president position that had been held by Councilman Tim Slavin. Nobody else was nominated and the motion to appoint Mr. Hare to president/vice-mayor carried. He has lived in Dover for more than 40 years.

Councilman Sudler had said he was running for council president to bring “an alternative leadership style” to the table.

“The purpose of my candidacy is not to ridicule our current leader, but to offer my council colleagues an alternative leadership style,” Mr. Sudler said. “A leadership that declares and requires all council members to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their position on an agenda item or affiliation or non-affiliation with any sub-group among council members.”

After Mr. Rodriguez revealed the outcome, Councilman Sudler offered his congratulations to Council President Hare.

“I would like to thank all of my council colleagues for their professionalism during this council president election process and the questions asked that stimulated critical thinking as a leader of this great city of Dover,” Mr. Sudler said. “Congratulations Council President Hare. I look forward to working with you under your leadership position as council president.”

The primary job of serving as council president is presiding over regular and special council meetings and serving as vice-mayor.

“I seek to serve as president of this body to continue even-handed continuity and service with you council, the mayor and city’s management team during this crisis in the aftermath,” said Councilman Hare. “The aftermath is bringing the city up and running as safely and quickly as we can. Fortunately, I’m able to devote my full efforts to the task we face.”

Mayor delivers State of the City

Mayor Robin Christiansen chose to focus on the positive things that have been happening in the city of Dover, even in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, when he delivered the annual State of the City Address on Monday night.

“To quote the famous radio newsman of the 1930s and ’40s Galen Drake, who began each newscast with ‘Oh, there is bad news tonight,’” Mayor Christiansen said. “The news, however, has not all been bad. Uplifting stories of courage, compassion and bravery abound. Neighbors helping neighbors. We have been fortunate to have had the dedication of many doctors, nurses and their support staff on the front lines battling the coronavirus, an enemy whose face changes daily.

“We have also had protecting our community, our dedicated police officers, volunteer fire ighters and EMS personnel. Because of them we continue to be safe and secure and they will continue to do so in the future. Without question our loyal and able city employees from all departments have done an outstanding job continuing to provide most of the services our citizens have come to expect routinely. A hearty ‘Thank you’ to each of them.”

The mayor added, “And while I agree that things may look gloomy now, I must remind you that we here in Dover have survived other dire historic events. The Revolution, the Civil War, other pandemics, the World Wars, the depression, floods, fires and other conflicts over the 303 years of our history. We have not only survived these events, but we have thrived and flourished.”

It has been a tough year for Delaware’s capital city.

While discussing the city of Dover’s Quarterly Revenue Report just a couple of weeks ago, City Councilman David Anderson asked City Manager Donna Mitchell where the city stood on cash collection for its services, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mrs. Mitchell responded that Dover’s cash collection is currently down $1.8 million at this time this year, as opposed to last year.

Then there have been the rash of shootings that have taken place throughout Dover over the past year and more than 300 homeless people still out on the streets.

Mayor Christiansen said the city has an arsenal of strong leaders who are poised to lead the city out of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, as only during other historic events have a mayor and council been so challenged fiscally regarding the finances of the city and the well-being of its citizens and the physical challenge that they face has been so great,” he said. “We will defeat this pandemic. Our heroes are too numerous to mention. Our businesses – large and small will once again open and thrive and be overwhelmed by clamoring customers eager and anxious to dine, browse, shop and buy.

“How do I know this? We witnessed first-hand already, the amazing support of the downtown fundraiser that the Downtown Dover Partnership put together in less than two weeks raising over $20,000 to aid our downtown businesses.”

The mayor said Dover must commit to honoring those who have lost their fight to COVID-19 and added that the city has many partners to help out when the coronavirus pandemic finally fades away.

“Today, let me assure the citizens of Dover, that the mayor and council stand shoulder to shoulder, united together to do whatever it takes to return our city to the status prior to this unprecedented national crisis, working closely with our partners from Kent County, the State of Delaware and the federal government – our local educational institutions, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, the Kent Economic Partnership, and others, (and) we will come roaring back bigger, better and stronger than before,” said Mayor Christiansen.

“Someday we will all look back at these difficult times wondering how we survived. And we will survive, we will survive. It will all seem like a very, very bad dream. But we will awaken to a bright new day full of promise for the future.”