Lawsuit filed against Dewey Beach, commissioner

Rowe alleges illegal activity in municipal election
October 8, 2019

A Dewey Beach commissioner candidate who lost the Sept. 21 municipal election by six votes is suing the town and a winning candidate, alleging illegal activity.

In the complaint filed Oct. 3 in Delaware Superior Court, Phil Rowe states the “election and seating of Paul Bauer as a resident commissioner of Dewey Beach was illegal because Bauer was not a domiciliary of Dewey Beach, and therefore ineligible to sit as a resident commissioner.”

The complaint filed by Rowe attorney David Finger states that Bauer filed to run as a resident commissioner, but that he is not a bona fide resident and domiciliary of Dewey Beach, as stated in town code.

“While a person can have more than one residence, he cannot have more than one domicile,” the complaint states.

The complaint states that Dewey Beach and Sussex County tax rolls identify Bauer’s address as Wilmington, that his Wilmington property tax bill is addressed to him in Wilmington, that his wife’s business is in Wilmington, and that Facebook pages for Bauer and his wife identify them as being in Wilmington.

“Additional records such as mailing records, tax records, investment records, insurance records, etc. will reveal that his domicile is Wilmington, not Dewey Beach,” the complaint states. “As a consequence of the fact that Bauer is not a domiciliary of Dewey Beach, he is not eligible for the office of resident commissioner.”

The complaint states that Rowe had the third-highest number of valid votes and requests the court declare Bauer ineligible to be seated as a resident commissioner, that the election is void and seat vacant, and that the Town of Dewey Beach is to not recognize Bauer as a commissioner. 

The suit also requests Rowe be awarded his costs, including reasonable attorney fees.

The lawsuit comes after two recounts that confirmed the original vote tally, and a denial by Dewey election officials of Rowe’s request to dismiss election results because Bauer was listed as a nonresident on absentee ballots and a resident on machine ballots.

Bauer attorney Glenn Mandalas said Rowe has tried several times to change election results.

“He caused the Board of Elections to convene to consider a complaint he filed,” Mandalas said. “That effort resulted in no change to the election results.”

Mandalas said Rowe also caused the town to recount ballots in a meeting that included the state elections commissioner, representatives from the county department of elections and town officials.

“That effort also resulted in no change to the election results,” Mandalas said. “We are confident Mr. Rowe’s latest filing in Superior Court will end the same way the other efforts ended - with no change to Paul Bauer’s legitimate re-election to town council.”

Town Manager Scott Koenig said could not comment on the case because he had not read or seen a copy of the lawsuit. Bauer could not be reached for comment.

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