DOVER — With five new members heading to Dover City Council chambers, Councilman James Hutchison said it’s a time to rebuild and for council to work together to continue to better the city.
“We lost two candidates that had a long tenure in the city,” Mr. Hutchison said. “The new members selected are coming into new positions, as the challenge now is educating them so we can deal with issues easier moving forward.”New First District Dover councilman and former Dover Police Chief James Hosfelt, left, chats with voter Ronald LaSana on Election Day Tuesday. Mr. Hosfelt defeated longtime councilwoman Beverly Williams in Tuesday’s city vote. (Delaware State News photos by Dave Chambers)[/caption]
Based on the results of Tuesday’s municipal election, Dover voters decided it was time for a change.
In the races for five open City Council seats, five new faces will serve the city. The three incumbents running for re-election were all unseated, most notably David Bonar, who represented the Third District since 2010, and Beverly Williams, who represented the First District since 2002.
Dover City Council has a total of nine seats, two each representing four districts and one at-large seat.
Ms. Williams lost her seat to former Dover Police Chief James Hosfelt.
In an uncontested race, Capital School Board member Brian Lewis will represent the Second District seat left open by Councilman Adam Perza, who chose not to run for re-election.
The vacant seat for the Third District left by former Councilman and current state Rep. Sean Lynn, was filled by Fred Neil.
Scott Cole will represent the Third District after defeating Mr. Bonar.
Roy Sudler Jr. will represent the Fourth District after defeating incumbent Wallace Dixon, who represented the district since 2012.
Of the 22,837 registered voters, 4,383 residents came out to vote.
Mr. Cole believed meeting constituents face-to-face played a significant part with voters.
“I knocked on about 500 to 600 doors,” he said. “I tried to meet as many people as possible. I called and emailed them and just tried to get their thoughts about issues in the city.”
Last month, City Council, after flip-flopping from an earlier decision, voted to have all city departments except the city clerk’s office and the finance
department report to the city manager. The council will appoint the city manager, who, in turn, will report to the council.
Mr. Sudler said the amendment change may have caused voters to want new leadership within the council.
“From what I heard from people is that they were disappointed in the way council flipped from one decision to another,” he said. “I think that was the icing on the cake.
“I addressed some of the concerns about the need for more accountability and more structure in the city government.
“When you make decisions and don’t educate yourself on the effect it will have on the masses, it causes people to re-evaluate council,” Mr. Sudler added. “I think that was what contributed to the change.”
Mr. Bonar served as council president since 2013.
Council will vote on a new president on May 11, said Melanie F. Kelsall, administrative assistant for the City Clerk’s Office.
Mr. Hutchison said council members will have to become knowledgeable on financial matters regarding the city.
“The budget hearing is approaching, so they will have to get up to speed on that,” Mr. Hutchison said. “We have to work with them to see where we are financially because based on what I see, we’re going to have a tax increase.”
“Our city manager and finance director will give them the necessary information that they need beforehand,” he said.
“We will come together and discuss it, but this is not the first time that there has been a change with the council seats. I know they’re excited about the opportunity. It’s time that we work together and get things accomplished.”
At least one of the new councilmen is confident everyone will make the necessary adjustments moving forward.
“I think all of us are willing to serve the city of Dover,” Mr. Sudler said.
“We’re willing to work with one another and I think the constituents of Dover will find they have elected a group of people who are willing to work toward a common goal of bettering the city.”
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen was re-elected after defeating former mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. and George Gaudioso.
Mr. Neil will be sworn in on May 4, due to the seat being left vacant in November with the election of Rep. Lynn to the General Assembly.
The other new elected officials will be sworn in on May 11.
Council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall at 15 Loockerman Plaza.