Sudler to take on incumbent Hare for Dover City Council presidency

DOVER — Members of Dover City Council will have a couple of distinctive voices to choose from when they cast their votes for council president for the next year at the annual meeting on May 11.

Roy Sudler Jr.

William “Bill” Hare is the incumbent council president and has gained plenty of seasoning during two stints as a city councilman for the city’s 2nd District; he says that each of the nine members of city council carry the same weight when it comes down to it.

Roy Sudler Jr., who has represented his 4th District constituents since being elected in May 2015, is running against Mr. Hare for the role of council president; he says he brings a raw passion and vision of equality and diversity when it comes to city matters.

Mr. Hare said he has the experience to help guide city council through the COVID-19 crisis.

“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 served his first term from 1991-1997 and has been a council member since being voted back in May 2011. He was elected to serve as Dover council president/vice-mayor at the annual meeting last May after Councilman Tanner Polce nominated him for the position that had been held by Councilman Tim Slavin.

William Hare

Mr. Hare,  who has lived in Dover for more than 40 years, was unopposed at that time.

Councilman Sudler said he is 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.

“Recently, more than ever, I have watched council members deliberately not speaking to one another or displaying disrespectful behaviors which ultimately affect the morale and certainly impacts our ability to most effectively accomplish our goals. During my tenure on council, I have encountered and been a part of some of the most difficult, combative and challenging periods.”

He added, “Through it all, I’ve come to realize that collaboration and mutual respect for one another allows us to work through our differences, is the key to addressing the issues and is pivotal to creating cohesiveness and successful change. However, I do not believe that is the case these days.”

Councilmen Slavin, Ralph Taylor Jr., Matt Lindell and Mr. Polce asked questions from the two candidates during a virtual meeting on Monday night. Included was what strengths they bring to the position.

“I think that my strengths would be going on 16 years as a city council member,” Councilman Hare said. “I have a great working relationship with the staff and all of the divisions and I think that when there are issues you go to them and they’re the ones you have to deal with. I’ve got a lot of respect for them and, hopefully, they respect me. Also, the fact that I respect the (City of Dover) Charter and try to follow as it is.”

Councilman Sudler said, “What particular strength I feel qualifies me for the position of city council president is centered on at least two vital qualities – one, the ability to be a great facilitator and two, the ability to be a great consensus builder. It is my view the council president is the focal point of the council members who facilitates dialogue and ideas that stimulate creative thinking for new and improved innovative best practices for conducting city business.”

When discussing what they thought were the greatest moments they had as a member of city council, Mr. Hare said that helping to build a new building for the Dover Police Department and a second fire station on the city’s west side were among his most memorable experiences.

Mr. Sudler said his highlights included bringing organizations together to close the Elks Lodge on Kirkwood Street, which lowered crime in the area, and his efforts to  decrease illegal gang participation in the city.

The seven other members of Dover City Council who will be voting on the council president received a lot of input at Monday night’s meeting.

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 and I’m asking that you to permit me to continue doing so as president of council.”

Councilman Sudler said he would bring different ingredients to the role of council president.

“In sum, my proposed leadership style is not only aligned with the city’s mission statement that postulates a ‘balanced growth and opportunity where diversity is valued,’ but reflects the demographic population that drives economic development and home ownership throughout the city of Dover,” he said. “Despite the aforementioned, I leave you with a question that only you can answer when you cast your vote.

“Remember, you may have previously committed your vote to one of the candidates for council president, but are your vote and commitment aligned with your constituent’s best interest rather than your own?”