Although the municipal election was canceled, the Dewey Beach Civic League sponsored a candidates forum Aug. 26, with commissioners-elect Paul Bauer, Elisabeth Gibbings and David Jasinski detailing their views on town issues.
This year marks the third straight year that an election was not held in Dewey, as no one but the incumbents filed to run for the two-year seats. The election had been set for Saturday, Sept. 23. Bauer, Gibbings and Jasinski ran unopposed in 2021 as well.
The three commissioners had previously met at town hall in July to file as candidates and announce their intention to run together, stating they wished to continue the progress made over the past two years.
Dewey Beach Civic League President Diane Hanson moderated the cordial forum, in which the incumbents shared like-minded viewpoints on parking, the budget and public safety.
Gibbings said the issues that made her run in 2021 have been achieved through collaboration between commissioners and town administration.
“We did not always, and we still do not always, agree, but we stay agreeable, and I think that, from what I’ve heard historically, is a big difference here in town, and I’m excited to keep that going,” Gibbings said.
A main focus has been on public safety, she said, noting that successful accomplishments include lowering the speed limit on Coastal Highway to 25 mph and installing the “Dewey wave” with plans to extend it to the south part of town.
Gibbings has coined the phrase “Dewey wave” to describe the post-and-rope center island barrier system designed to reduce jaywalking in town. She also noted the town hired three more full-time police officers in addition to Chief Constance Speake.
Commissioners had authorized hiring 20 seasonal officers, but only 11 of those positions were filled, she said. Unused salaries for nine seasonals, along with savings from unused overtime and outside agencies, meant the town needed only an additional $5,000 to fund the new full-time officers, she said.
Those three officers were seasonals who will attend the police academy this fall and will be ready for duty by Memorial Day, Bauer said. It’s hard to attract police officers, he said, so it was important to keep on the seasonals who were interested in the full-time positions. Public safety is the No. 1 priority, he said.
“I think an officer in town knows the population better than the people coming in from out of town,” Bauer said.
Jasinski said he is proud of the leadership team put in place for the town and hopes they are still in their positions in five years. He said he looks forward to the construction of a town hall to be proud of, one which will provide a better facility for employees and enhanced service for the public.
“It’s my responsibility to be a good steward and not just to raise money, because we can raise money, but really to think closely about what the citizens are demanding for services, what makes sense, and be judicious about it,” Jasinski said.
Parking issues are not unusual in a resort town, he added, and parking in front of homes is always an emotional issue, but a balance must be achieved because more land isn’t being made.
The town discovered 65 public parking spaces at the end of Rodney Avenue as a result of work being done at the bayside marina, Gibbings said.
It was always assumed that those spaces were owned by the marina until then, Bauer said. The town is trying to make parking simple, he said, which can be tough when there are no curbs in many spaces, so the yellow lines help.
Parking can be hard to find in the main part of town, he added, but much easier in the north and south ends. However, no one wants to park there because all the action is in the center of town, he said.
Bauer, Gibbings and Jasinski are set to be sworn in at the town organizational meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, at the Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station.