The line in the sand has been drawn in 2014 Dewey Beach municipal election.
Voters will decide Sept. 20 if they think the town is on the right track or if there needs to be a significant overhaul in town government and it needs to start with the commissioners.
Nearly 50 people got their first glimpse at the differences between candidates Gary Mauler, an incumbent commissioner, and Dave Davis, Citizens to Preserve Dewey member, during the Dewey Beach Civic League Candidates Forum at the Dewey Beach Lions Club Aug. 23.
“I feel good about Dewey,” said Mauler, pointing to crime statistics that show a significant decrease over the past few years and a budget surplus that has been over $200,000 for just as long. He said Dewey, like all towns, has issues, but for the most part the town is doing well and people saying otherwise are using fear, uncertainty and doubt to get their message across.
“I view myself as the voice of the property owners,” countered Davis, who has owned property in town for seven years. “There's nobody on council, who at their heart, are in it for the property owners.”
The third candidate, Commissioner Courtney Riordan was not in attendance because he was out of town at his daughter's 50th birthday party.
One of the biggest differences between the two candidates was their opinion towards transparency in government.
Mauler, who owns property and has been coming to Dewey for the past 64 years, said the town isn't doing anything secretive and has nothing to hide. He said the number of Freedom of Information Act requests the town gets does little but waste town employee time.
The town is doing its due-diligence and the best it's legally able to do, but things are being exaggerated, Mauler said.
Davis said if there were more transparency there wouldn't need to be so many FOIA requests.
The two candidates were asked if they believed Dewey is a safe place.
Davis said there is a safety issue in town, and there needs to be a better job of policing. He called out council for running from the safety committee's recommendation that moveable detention centers be looked into.
“They ran from it like it was Ebola,” Davis said.
Mauler said there are always going to be bad characters, and the message should be, he said, coming down here to party is fine, but respect the citizens of Dewey Beach also. There isn't anywhere near the crime as other places, he said.
“I feel safe, and I hope you feel safe too,” he said to the crowd.
The one issue the two men agreed on was that the town's comprehensive plan needs to be revised; it was last done in 2007.
It provides a pretty good guide, but it needs to be modified and massaged, said Davis.
Mauler said the plan was a University of Delaware project that needs to be polished by lawyers and planning and zoning professionals to create bulletproof wording.
The election will be held from 10 a.m to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, in the Dewey Beach Life Saving Station, 1 Dagsworthy Ave.