With 5 new faces, Dover council eyes challenges ahead

DOVER — City council plans to continue to move Dover forward regardless of five new members coming in.

James Hosfelt, who will represent the First District; Brian Lewis, Second District; Scott Cole, Third District; and Roy Sudler Jr., Fourth District, officially will be sworn in during tonight’s council meeting.

Third District representative Fred A. Neil was sworn in on May 4, due to the seat being left vacant in November with the election of Rep. Sean Lynn to the General Assembly.

The newly elected officials, Mayor Robin Christiansen and the remaining council members seem confident about addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

“I think it’s going to be a very busy year for us,” Councilman David Anderson said. “There are a lot of challenges, but there are a lot of positive things as well. We should be able to handle it.”

Mayor Christiansen said council’s main priority is residents’ public safety.

“In light of the recent events that happened, we need to take into account everything and continue to make sure the citizens are safe,” Mayor Christiansen said.

Mr. Anderson agreed and believed the city’s budget is a top priority as well.

“We have to keep an eye on our spending,” Mr. Anderson said. “We have to keep our tax increases as low as possible. We have to continue to have progress with our economic development and our infrastructure.

“We should be a getting a little more money once the Calpine plant opens, but I think everything will be fine.”

Calpine is the Garrison Energy Center, a combined cycle plant that will primarily fire with natural gas and utilize its exhaust to create additional steam power, producing 309 megawatts of electricity when in peak production. Located off White Oak Road, it is expected to begin producing electricity next month.

With budget hearings looming, Mr. Neil said he’s prepared for the process.

“The city staff has been marvelous helping everyone out,” he said. “They held an orientation for the new council members and (city manager) Scott Koenig went over last year’s budget to help us know what to expect. It was terrific getting us involved.

“It’s like being a rookie in the NFL. Everything is going to come at you fast, but you have to learn to adjust.”

Former police chief Mr. Hosfelt shared the same sentiment.

“I’ve spent 26 years with the city,” he said. “I dealt with the budget when I was the police chief, so I know how the process works. I’m on the other side of the table now, so I think that will help to some degree because I think that’s our biggest challenge. We’re all going to have to come together and make some tough decisions.”

After flip-flopping from an earlier decision, council voted in March to have all city departments except the clerk’s office and the finance department report to the city manager. Council will appoint the city manager, who in turn will report to council.

The mayor’s position would remain full-time. The mayor has the power to veto council’s decision, but council can override that veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

Mayor Christiansen said he hopes to sit down with council to define the mayor’s responsibilities.

“I plan to do the job that is needed of me,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Whatever my responsibilities are, I plan to do the job that is needed to be done.”

David Bonar, who represented the Third District since 2010, served as council president since 2013. He was defeated by Mr. Cole, and council will vote on a new president during tonight’s meeting.

Councilmen Timothy Slavin and Anderson announced their candidacy for the position. Mr. Anderson has a few ideas if he’s elected as council president.

“I think a few reforms will make the budget easier,” Mr. Anderson said. “I also think we need to have more communication with the public.
“We lost that and I think they should have some type of input.”

Mr. Slavin said it’s a critical time of transition for the city.

“It’s time for everyone to come together, and as council president I feel as though I can facilitate the dialogue to hear everyone out,” he said.
“I think I have that skill set, as we do have a lot of challenges moving forward, but we have a lot of great opportunities as well. I look forward to working with everyone.”

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