Two to vie for vacant 1st District seat on Dover City Council

DOVER — Gerald Rocha Sr. and William Garfinkel are seeking to have a voice on Dover City Council in hopes to winning the 1st District seat that was left vacant by Tanner Polce in July.

Mr. Polce’s spot on city council expires in May 2021.

Both candidates have concerns about the rise in crime and quality of life issues in Dover. They also have been residents of the city for numerous years, with Mr. Garfinkel having lived in Dover for the past 36 years and Mr. Rocha, who spent 20 years in the United States Air Force, for 22 years.

The city of Dover’s Special Municipal Election to fill Mr. Polce’s 1st District spot on city council will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 18, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. The polling place for the election will be at the Elks Lodge No. 1903 at 200 Saulsbury Road in Dover.

Members of the election board for the special election include: Juanita F. Walker; Anita L. McDowell Boyer; Cherritta L. Matthews; James W. Brockton; M. Milford Caldwell and City Clerk Traci A. McDowell (liaison member).

For additional information, contact the City Clerk’s office at 736-7008 or by e-mail at cityclerk@dover.de.us.

The following is a look at the two candidates involved in the upcoming special election and what they view are the biggest challenges facing the city of Dover:

GERALD L. ROCHA SR.

Education: Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, Wilmington University; Bachelor of Science, Information Resource Management, Wilmington University; Associates of Applied Science, Avionic Systems Technology, Community College of the Air Force; Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification, Villanova University

Family: Married to Valerie Rocha, four children, four grandchildren

Years living in Dover: 22

Affiliations: City of Dover Human Relations Commission Commissioner; Leadership Delaware – Class of 2012; Fellow Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Board Member, Membership Committee; Delaware Parents Association, Chairman, Board of Directors; One Village Alliance, Secretary, Board of Directors; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Past President, Zeta Rho Lambda Chapter

Gerald L. Rocha Sr.

Have you ever been publicly elected to office?: No

Best way constituents can contact you if you are elected?: Email: glrocha1906@gmail.com; cell phone: 302-423-1957

Q: Why are you running for this office? I believe I have the leadership experience and knowledge to make necessary improvements to sustain a diverse, vibrant and thriving community and I want to be sure that when I’m on city council that any decisions I make must benefit all our citizens in the city of Dover.

Q: In your campaign thus far, what seems to be the most pressing concerns to the constituents of your district? Thus far, the most pressing concerns to the constituents are the cities rise in violent crime, safety, property issues and problems with infrastructure. Other matters include downtown parking and speeding through neighborhoods.

Q: What important skills from your background will you bring to Dover City Council? While in the U.S. Air Force, I developed outstanding oral communication, leadership and relationship building skills during my 20 years of service. As a resource developer with United Way of Delaware, I have been able to identify places where there are needs for funding and use my communication skills to enable people with a common passion to mobilize to fill the gaps and move the community towards a common good.

Q: What are the personal or professional accomplishments of which you are most proud? The accomplishments I am most proud of are my time as program manager of the Dover AFB Honor Guard ensuring the return of our fallen heroes with dignity, honor and respect. I am also proud of being a loving and dependable husband, father and grandfather

WILLIAM GARFINKEL

Education: Master of Business Administration, Wilmington University; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; Fairleigh Dickinson University; Associate in Science in Business Administration, Brandywine College; Certificate, Judicial Education Program, Delaware Law School, Wilmington; Certificate, Mediation and Dispute Resolution, People’s Place II, Milford; Certificates, federal and state in-service criminal investigation and management courses.

Family: Married to Mary T. (née Walpole) Garfinkel; Four children (Brandon, Erin, Marisa and Cailah

Years living in Dover: 36 years

Affiliations: Member Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee, Dover City Council; Chair, Mayor’s Citizen Advisory Committee, City of Dover; Chair, City of Dover’s Board of Assessment Appeals; Chair, City of Dover’s Election Board; Leader of Bicentennial Village Civic Association; Citizens Budget Oversight Committee, Capital School District; Open Government Committee, League of Women Voters of Delaware; Delaware SPCA

William Garfinkel

Have you ever been publicly elected to office? No

Best way constituents can contact you if you are elected? Phone or text at 302-670-0195

Q: Why are you running for this office? Running to be your member of city council for the First District is for me just a logical extension of my community services for the past 36 years. I founded the Bicentennial Village Civic Association and immersed myself into city council deliberations as a self-appointed watchdog for my community. I fully intend to continue my efforts, but as a member of city council, I will now have a vote.

Q: In your campaign thus far, what seems to be the most pressing concerns to the constituents of your district? The three major areas of concern that I’ve been hearing are: public safety, taxes and quality of life. I am committed to being a true agent of change in finding workable long-term comprehensive global solutions to these and other problem areas. Public safety, I oppose defunding the police and want to ensure we give a proper hearing to the chief’s plan to restore community policing, community engagement and traffic patrol. Taxes, we raised taxes twice in four years. It is time for a break. I have extensive experience in finding cost savings, waste and abuse. I will look closely at city spending before supporting any tax increase and will push for fairer payments in lieu of taxes on the state property. Quality of life, moving the city of Dover towards achieving the civic needs, wants and desires of the people, that are the duties and obligations of the city. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but help it turn better.

Q: What important skills from your background will you bring to Dover City Council? Held executive positions for most of my 33-year professional career, managing multi-million-dollar budgets and large staffs. I bring to the council demonstrated skills in developing innovative programs, strategic imagination and team leadership. I believe that forward thinking and a positive attitude are essential for good management and good government.

Q: What are the personal or professional accomplishments of which you are most proud? Served on the board of directors of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Public Assistance Reporting Information System; Received the Government Accountability Office best-practice recognition for the development and operation of the Welfare Fraud Unit; Received the U.S. HUD Inspector General’s Award for Superior Accomplishment for the development of a national model for the coordination of state and federal program fraud investigations; Received the USDA Inspector General’s Award for outstanding cooperation in the development of a joint federal and state food stamp trafficking program called “Operation Talon”; Recognized by the Delaware House of Representatives for my work in combating food stamp trafficking; Commendation from the FBI and the state of New Jersey for locating an abducted child and her abductor in Delaware.