Candidate says newbies, longtimers share the same goals

April 1, 2014

Election Night 2012, nearly nine o’clock. A happy, optimistic crowd at Irish Eyes in Lewes buzzes with anticipation.

Supporters of Marie Mayor, the Democrat running for the newly formed District 20 state representative seat against Republican Steve Smyk, are waiting anxiously for the election returns.

Mayor is hopeful too - one poll had her ahead of Smyk - but she also knows that, in the past week or so, ugly, even ridiculous, rumors have been spreading.

“One woman told me she wasn’t going to vote for me because I didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance,” Mayor said.

“I said, ‘Raise your right hand and say it with me,’ and she said, ‘Oh no, my friend told me that and she never lies.’”

What started as a clean election had taken an abrupt turn.

“It was a shock to hear what people had heard about me the weekend before the election,” Mayor said.

And so it wasn’t a complete shock when the results rolled in, with Smyk winning 53 percent of the vote to Mayor’s 47 percent. If just 391 people had voted for her instead of Smyk, Mayor said, she would have won.

Naturally, she was disappointed. But Mayor described herself as someone who believes that when one door shuts another one opens. But that door wasn’t open to a run for political office. She had decided against it.

Now the story has taken another turn. On Monday - not even 18 months after that disappointing November evening - Mayor officially announced she will run again for the District 20 seat. (Smyk, the incumbent, had not filed as of Monday morning.)

How could she bounce back so soon? Partly because she never left politics. Shortly after the November vote, she was elected chair of the Democrats’ District 20 committee.

Throughout 2013, she and representatives from all over the district talked about the issues and what they needed to do for 2014. On Jan. 2, those representatives asked Mayor to run again. She accepted.

The reason: issues. They still needed to be addressed. The 2012 election campaign wound up being influenced by social issues, such as marriage equality. But that’s now dead as a campaign topic, because the law has already been passed.

Other issues haven’t changed much since 2012, though the need for action has become more urgent. Mayor listed stormwater runoff, economic growth; and road congestion and public transportation among her top concerns.

Mayor offered an example showing the need for improved public transportation and how it’s tied to jobs. A local woman got a job. On her first day, she took a bus, after checking the schedule to make sure she’d arrive at work on time. But that day, the bus was behind schedule.

When she arrived late on her first day, she was told to go home. She had already lost her job.

(More about Mayor’s issues can be found on her website,

In some respects it’s a tough year for Democratic candidates. Gov. Jack Markell has handed his party’s candidates a problem. In the past few months, he has launched campaigns for not one but two tax hikes: a 10-cent gas tax increase to fund transportation projects and a property tax to pay for a cleanup of the state waterways.

Virtually everybody agrees the projects are worthy. Not many want to endorse a tax increase.

Mayor, who said she is not ready to support the proposed increases, understands the problem. People, she said, don’t have confidence in government.

“We have to have some successes that show, as a government and communities working together, that we can have some success in making things work better,” she said.

Mayor has reasons to think she can win this time. She said she has a better organization and more people working with her, including Republicans and Independents.

During the last campaign, she estimates she spoke with 5,000 voters. This year she plans to increase that number. That outreach, she thinks, will help blunt potential negative attacks.

“If people get to know me,” Mayor said, “they’ll be less likely to see me as a stereotype.

“There are a lot of people who have lived here all their lives,” Mayor said, “and there are a lot of people who have moved here. And I’d like to have more community dialogue, so that we can get to understand that we have many of the same goals.”

Longtime locals and newcomers sharing the same goals - what a concept. It’s also the only way we’ll ever address the issues facing our community.

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