Lewes Deputy Mayor Bonnie Osler will not seek another term on city council.
Osler, who is nearing the end of her fourth term, said it is time to step aside.
“If people are thinking about running or even wondering if there’s going to be an open seat, I kind of owe it to them to give them a heads-up,” Osler said.
Osler was first elected to council in 2012, shortly after moving to Lewes following a career with the federal government.
Osler is stepping down, in part, because she believes in term limits. She and her spouse Brook Hedge also recently purchased a second home in New Hampshire, where they will spend more time.
“I will have been doing this for nine years, and I do believe there’s just a time to step aside and let somebody else come forward,” she said.
Osler’s departure means the recent shakeup of city council will continue in 2021. In 2020, Councilmen Tim Ritzert and Andrew Williams were each elected to their first terms, defeating incumbents Fred Beaufait and Dennis Reardon. Mayor Ted Becker has been on council for 17 years, the last seven as mayor. Three-term Councilman Rob Morgan is up for re-election this year but has not announced his intentions just yet.
Among Osler’s most proud accomplishments were having a hand in hiring City Manager Ann Marie Townshend and promoting Ellen Lorraine McCabe to assistant city manager.
“The city is really incredibly well run thanks to them,” Osler said. “Both of them work around the clock, particularly now to get the city through COVID.”
She is also proud of her work on the police review ad hoc committee, which has enlightened her and the public on the daily tasks of the entire staff. Like city council does with other departments, Osler said, council wanted to review the department to ensure it was being run efficiently.
“Hopefully some trust has been built there,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know and work with them.”
As a member of council, Osler was assigned to several committees and commissions during her nine years. She said the volunteer spirit of the city’s residents is something of which to be proud.
In terms of policy decisions Osler considers achievements, she said she’s pleased with her efforts to rewrite and strengthen the city’s ethics ordinance, which she says is a model in the state, and her work with council to convert paper streets along Cedar Street to open space.
She also served on the city’s finance committee, with which she adopted a solid conservative investment policy and championed the hiring of Tim Reath of UBS to manage investments.
As far as unfinished business, Osler regrets she was unable to solve the issues with the Lewes Board of Public Works.
“That’s unfortunate for everybody,” she said. “I hope some kind of resolution can be hammered out. I don’t know what it would be. If I did, I would’ve suggested it by now. I hope that somehow that gets turned into a positive.”
She also wishes she could’ve made a bigger impact on the continued growth of eastern Sussex County.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that in the last five or six years, this part of Sussex County has been transformed, and not always for the better,” she said.
Overall, she said, her experience as an elected official has been rewarding.
“There have been controversies, and it’s not pleasant to have people not think well of you, but it kind of goes with the territory,” she said. “If you’re going to serve the public, you kind of have to leave your own ego at home because you’re playing a role. Your role is to do the best you can to represent people and exercise the best judgment you can, and not everybody is going to agree with you.”
Before joining council, Osler worked as deputy chief counsel for litigation with the Transportation Security Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She had also worked as assistant branch director and trial attorney for the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Osler bought a home in Lewes in 1993, and moved here permanently in 2011.
A seat on council carries a three-year term. Those interested in filing to run for the Lewes election may submit their application to the city manager beginning Monday, March 1. The 2021 municipal election is scheduled for Saturday, May 8.