Sudler dismisses rumors, runs unopposed for re-election to Dover’s 4th Dist. council seat

DOVER — Dover City Councilman Roy Sudler, Jr. said he has felt the murmurs swirling around him, saying he has heard that some people are questioning his eligibility to run for re-election to his Fourth District seat on city council due to residency concerns.

Councilman Sudler said he is confident he maintains his Fourth District-eligibility. He said he has heard about questions coming from “unnamed accusers” that say he shouldn’t be allowed to run in the district because his wife, Pilar Figueroa, owns a house in Heatherfield, which is in the First District.

The two were married last May.

Councilman Sudler says that he meets all the criteria to run for re-election in the Fourth District considering that he maintains a house on College Road. The house is within the Fourth District boundaries, his driver’s license lists that residence as his home address, and he pays all electric and utility bills on the property.

“As councilman of the Fourth District for the city of Dover, I had never claimed nor attempted to vote outside of the Fourth District, even though my wife possesses current assets that consist of residencies in Puerto Rico, Tacoma, Washington and Dover, Delaware, before we were married,” said Councilman Sudler.

He will retain his seat on city council after nobody opposed him as the deadline for filing for city council election passed at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

“Nevertheless, in anticipation of ethical concerns regarding my eligibility for re-election, I have illustrated to the city of Dover’s Clerk Office and Kent County Board of Election Representatives a pro-active approach to being transparent and forthcoming to ensure that my decision to run to be re-elected as the Fourth District Councilman would be aligned with state and local municipal codes and ethics.”

Denise Devine, assistant clerk for the city of Dover, said Mr. Sudler filed his nominating petition on Jan. 31. The deadline for filing for city council election passed at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

She said the eligibility requirements to run for mayor or city council, the person must, as of the date of the election, be:

• A citizen of the United States and of the State of Delaware

• A resident of the city and having continuously resided therein or in an area annexed to the city during the two years immediately preceding the day of the election

• A resident of the election district from which they are seeking election, unless they are seeking election as an at-large councilperson or mayor

• Be 18 years of age or older

• Must have filled out a nominating petition

• Must not have been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury or any other infamous crime

Ms. Devine said Councilman Sudler has met all those conditions.

“He has to reside in the Fourth District in order to run,” Ms. Devine said. “When he filed his nominating petition with the City Clerk’s office his identification and voter registration both indicated he lives within the Fourth District and he has completed nominating eligibility requirements.”

Fellow Councilman Fred Neil, who represents the Third District, and William “Bill” Hare, who represents the Second District, both said that if a candidate meets the requirements to seek election in a district, then they should be able to run.

Councilman Neil said to take Mr. Sudler’s name out of the conversation, that all city councilmen and candidates should face the same standards.

“Should an elected individual live is the district he or she represents?,” Councilman Neil asked. “If the law says he or she must, then he or she must.

“Should someone legally challenge where a person actually lives, rather than at a property he or she owns but stands empty a majority of the time, then that decision will be decided by a judge.

“As for an election or re-election, the public will decide if that information comes to light in the court of public opinion. Moral dilemmas are not resolved by the courts.”

Councilman Sudler won his first term in the Fourth District in April 2015. While operating his own business and taking college courses, he said he was unsure if he’d even pursue re-election, however, he said several of his constituents finally talked him into running again.

Now, he is even hoping to become the city of Dover’s first African American city council president after current President Tim Slavin announced he will not be seeking to retain the position in May. The council president position is voted on by members of council.

Mr. Sudler raised concerns that that might be one of the underlying reasons why somebody might question his eligibility for council candidacy.

“I believe this underground movement is to not only oppress my voice as the Fourth District councilman, but is also a malicious attempt to disqualify me from being eligible to be the first African American council president for the city of Dover,” he said.

“Henceforth, I believe that since the city council president has the opportunity to be the mayor if the mayor is incapacitated, which we have witnessed on more than two occasions within the last fifteen years, then that position (council president) should be appointed by ‘We the People’ because that position consists of mayor duties which is an elected position by the citizens of Dover.”

Despite all of the drama, Councilman Sudler said he is looking forward to the upcoming challenges he will face with his constituents and city council during his next term.

“It is my position that the recent inquiry into my primary residency is an attempt to subdue my voice as a hybrid servant and transformational leader who demonstrates the notion of putting my personal interest last and my constituent’s interest first,” said Councilman Sudler.

“For the record, I will not be silenced, threatened, dominated, constrained or discouraged from representing my constituents regardless of any barrier or a personal attack on my integrity or servitude/transformational leadership style and culture.”

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

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