For the first time in six years, the City of Lewes will have an election.
Four candidates filed on the first day candidates were able March 2.
Incumbents Fred Beaufait and Dennis Reardon will face off against newcomers Kay Carnahan and Andrew Williams for two seats on the five-member council in May’s election. Each seat carries a three-year term.
Carnahan, 60, has been a member of the city’s planning commission for the last 19 years. A Wilmington native and graduate of Penn State University, she moved to Lewes from Elizabethtown, Pa., with her husband Thomas Noble in 1990.
She has spent most of her career in newspapers and marketing, working as a graphic designer for the now-defunct Whale newspaper in Lewes and as a production editor at The Wave newspaper in Bethany Beach. For the last 15 years, she’s been marketing coordinator at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty in Lewes, where she is responsible for preparing advertisements for print and web publication, including working with more than 100 rental and sales agents.
She said she decided to run for city council because she sees a disconnect between the council and the city’s volunteers, whether on committees and commissions or groups within the city.
“We have so many skilled, enthusiastic volunteers who come from brilliant backgrounds and are super energetic who want to take ownership of the community,” she said.
Among her top concerns are the city’s relationship with the Lewes Board of Public Works, the BPW’s response to the wastewater plant failure in December and ongoing challenges related to climate.
If elected, she said, she would try to make decisions based on community consensus.
“The city/BPW lawsuit kind of speaks to that,” she said. “Almost everyone I’ve spoken to mentions that they got a card asking their opinion about the Fourth Street renaming, but nobody asked them about how they felt about [BPW lawsuit].”
Williams, 43, was born and raised in Lewes, graduating from Cape Henlopen High School in 1994. A career in market intelligence took him to New York, but he returned to Lewes about six years ago.
He decided to run because he’s heard from many in the community who want change. He also wants to add diversity to council.
“People of my generation need to step up and take ownership of their town,” he said. “It needs to be the people who will be managing things in the future.”
Williams’ family has a long history of service to the town. His great-grandfather is James Beebe, co-founder of Beebe Healthcare. His grandfather, Ralph Williams, served on the planning commission under Mayor Al Stango.
“Part of the family legacy is giving back to the community,” he said. “It’s an example for what I want my kids to do.”
Williams works from home, which offers flexibility to take care of city business when needed throughout the day. He works for Global Data, which provides data and market intelligence.
If elected, he would like to improve city council’s relationship with the city’s committees and commissions as well as Sussex County Council and other state and county bodies.
“We need to be more proactive in how we deal with the county,” he said.
He’d also like to maintain and protect the city’s character and the environment.
“Too often council is reactionary,” he said. “We need to look 30 to 40 years forward and plan for things like infrastructure.”
He and his wife Rita, who works at Beebe Healthcare, have two children, 12 and 9.
Beaufait, 82, the city’s deputy mayor, was elected to city council in 2011. He won reelection in 2013 and ran unopposed in 2015 and 2017 – terms changed to three years in late 2015. Beaufait is a former educator, working more than four decades in higher education. His career path took him from college professor to president of New York City College of Technology. He retired to Lewes in 2004.
He’s proud of the work he’s done on council. He describes the job as time-consuming and stressful, but also rewarding.
“I make it a point to study an issue, both pros and cons, before making a decision,” he said. “I keep reminding myself that in making a decision, it is not what I might prefer personally, but what is in the best interest of our city.”
His top issues are growth in and around Lewes and the city’s relationship with the BPW.
With development outpacing necessary infrastructure, he said, council has a responsibility to manage what it can. He said he’s proud of the annexation zones he helped develop over a year-and-a-half period. The goal of the zones, he said, is to make annexation attractive to developers while also placing stronger limitations on projects than what’s permitted by Sussex County. He said the impact on natural wetlands and open space is not to be overlooked, particularly in protecting the city’s well fields.
As for the BPW situation, Beaufait said, it’s clear that the utility should be folded into city.
“The situation has now reached the point where BPW must become a part of the city where the city council can provide appropriate oversight authority,” he said.
Reardon, 79, was elected in 2013 and ran unopposed in 2015 and 2017. Reardon moved to Lewes in 2006, but has been a property owner since the 1970s, and his family has been visiting the town since the 1940s. He said he’s invested in the city’s future.
“It’s a privilege to serve on city council, and I take my responsibilities very seriously,” he said. “I understand the time commitment that serving on city council requires, including day and evening meetings.”
He estimates he spends at least 20 hours per week on city business.
“I have dedicated a significant amount of time to understanding the issues, and I believe there are a number of significant pending matters where my experience and input have added value that I would like to see to resolution,” he said.
Those include the relationship between the city and the Board of Public Works. With the Superior Court dismissing the BPW’s lawsuit against the city in January, Reardon said, he wants to enter into meaningful dialogue with BPW to find a resolution that’s in the best interest of the city’s residents and BPW’s ratepayers.
He also wants to carefully monitor development within the city and carefully consider annexation so the city has input on development and infrastructure. In each case, he said, city council must be mindful of sea-level rise, storm surge and extreme storms.
Prior to retirement, Reardon worked as an attorney in Family Court for about 20 years. He also worked with the Attorney General’s Office and in private industry.
The election will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 9, at city hall. Anyone who wishes to become a candidate must file a form with the city manager’s office by 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2. The form can be found on the city’s website at www.ci.lewes.de.us. Candidates must be at least 21 years old and a resident of Lewes for at least one year. Candidates also must not have been convicted of a felony.
The deadline to register to vote in the election is 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 24. Registration must be completed at city hall during normal working hours. There will be a special voter registration window from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 18, for those who cannot make it to city hall during a weekday. If a resident has not voted in two consecutive elections, they must re-register to vote.
The Greater Lewes Civic Association will hold a candidates’ forum at 6 p.m., Friday, April, 24, in the large room at the Lewes Public Library.