For the second straight year, Lewes residents voted for change.
Newcomers Carolyn Jones and Khalil Saliba were the big winners in the Lewes City Council election May 8, as they clearly defeated incumbent Rob Morgan for two open seats.
Jones received the most votes with 583. Saliba finished second with 538 votes, while Morgan collected 449 votes.
The elected council members will be sworn in for three-year terms prior to the Monday, May 17 regular meeting.
Jones said being her authentic self is what resonated with voters.
“And never forgetting that I’m a resident first,” she said. “When I go in there [as a council member], I’m going in there with everybody on my shoulders, because that’s who I am.”
Jones has lived in Lewes since 2008. She said it was time to give back.
“I love this place,” she said. “It took us a long time to find a home, but once we got here these folks became like a second family. We look out for one another, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Jones’ victory ensures a woman will remain on council for another three years. At least one woman has served on city council since 1999. Deputy Mayor Bonnie Osler is stepping away after nine years. She did not seek re-election this year.
Saliba said it’s gratifying and humbling to earn a seat on council.
“I think my background of being someone who’s a native of Lewes combined with a professional background of public policy and consensus building was a strong combination,” he said.
This year’s election also means the end of a seven-year run for Morgan. In a farewell email to supporters May 8, Morgan thanked residents for the opportunity to serve.
“My disappointment in the outcome is more than offset by my relief at having more time, which I have sorely lacked,” he said. “The campaign was dignified and cordial, and both successful candidates for the city council are good people, so I have no regrets.”
With Jones and Saliba joining council, Mayor Ted Becker is the only elected official with more than one year of experience. Councilmen Tim Ritzert and Andrew Williams defeated incumbents in July in an election that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a nail-bitter in the Lewes Board of Public Works election, as 11 votes separated the final three candidates. Earl Webb was the clear winner with 636 votes, but the race for the final two seats came down to the end. Incumbent Tom Panetta collected 418 votes, while newcomer Richard Nichols pulled in 414 votes. Incumbent Robert Kennedy fell just short of re-election with 407 votes.
Webb believes the message of transparency and improving communication is the reason he and Nichols were elected.
“I got those ideas by talking to our customers,” said Webb, who was running in his first election after being tapped in September to serve out the remaining few months of Jack Lesher’s term. “All I did was amplify their voice, and that’s what I’d like to do in this new office; to turn the volume up of our customers into the board and into our decision making.”
For Panetta, mending the relationship between the BPW and city council is the top priority.
“That has got to be our sole goal,” he said. “It’s gone on far too long and it’s created too much angst in the city, and it’s not doing anyone any good. I think with a new council we can have an honest discussion.”
Webb said he’s sorry to see Kennedy go, but hopes he can still contribute in the future.
“He has a lot of knowledge that is helpful to this board,” Webb said. “If we could bring him in on a committee or commission to leverage his knowledge, I think that would be helpful.”
The BPW board members will be sworn in at a special meeting May 17.