After 22 years as an elected official in Lewes, the last 10 of them as mayor, Jim Ford has decided not to seek re-election when voters go to the polls in May.
“The job has become almost a full-time position if it's to be done right, and it's time for me to spend more time with my family and my construction firm,” said Ford.
“It's been a privilege to be able to serve the citizens of Lewes and be in office to do what the citizens want its government to do. That's what elected officials are supposed to do. It's just a wonderful opportunity to have been able to do that.”
Ford, 61, served five years on the Lewes Planning Commission - appointed by former Mayor Al Stango - before seeking his first elected office as a town council member. He served six two-year terms on council before succeeding George H.P. Smith as mayor. He is completing his fifth two-year term in that position this year.
During his years as mayor, Ford saw completion of major improvements to Second Street, creation of Lewes Canalfront Park, rehabilitation and repaving of Bay Avenue and its water and sewer infrastructure on Lewes Beach, major renovations and addition to City Hall, expansion and major upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and electrical distribution system by the Board of Public Works, and several other capital improvement projects involving the city's streets.
Most recently, the mayor helped engineer the $2.5 million purchase of the 5.5-acre Thompson property on Monroe Avenue - contiguous to Stango Park - as the site for a new Lewes Public Library and trailhead for the area's growing cycling and walking trails. He is also serving as honorary co-chairman, with Joe Hudson, for the library construction fundraising campaign.
Ford said he notified members of Lewes Council of his decision earlier this week along with City Manager Paul Eckrich and City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas. He sent out an email about his decision Thursday morning. The text of that email is attached below.
Editor's Note: Look for more coverage on this transition in Lewes government on this site and in Friday's edition of the Cape Gazette.
Ford sent this email out Thursday morning to about 70 friends, colleagues and associates.
“As informal as email is, I wanted to send you this so everyone receives this information from me in a timely way, and with my own thoughts. I have decided to not seek re-election in May of 2014. This is an extremely difficult decision, but based on numerous factors, I have reached this conclusion. Demands on time to continue serving as I need and want to do have become so extreme that it is very difficult for me to address all the issues I face in my personal life and continue to also maintain the level of commitment necessary to serve as Mayor.
“I would like to thank each and every one of you for the opportunity to work together to improve our community and also to know you as a person. Over the 22 years of serving the City as an elected official, I have had numerous challenges and issues that you have helped resolve, and the net result of our efforts stands for all to see and experience. I will miss the regular working relationship with you that has been a part of my everyday life, but hope to continue to have the opportunity to see and interact with you in the future. I wish each of you the very best and it has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of Lewes.”