Lewes mayoral candidates answer questions

April 29, 2022

Three candidates are vying to become the mayor of Lewes in the Saturday, May 14 election. Incumbent Theodore “Ted” Becker, and challengers Richard “Ric” Moore and Deputy Mayor Andrew Williams are seeking a three-year term and a seat at the head of the table. Polls will be open at city hall from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about the election, go to All candidates were asked by the Cape Gazette to answer the same questions about topics important to residents.


Theodore “Ted” Becker: Becker, 72, was elected to Lewes City Council in 2004 and served as deputy mayor 2010-14, prior to being elected mayor in 2014. He chairs the city’s mitigation planning team and capital projects committee. He has been a member of the Delaware Health Care Commission since 2005 and was appointed to the Health Resources Board in 2016. He was appointed as commissioner of the Delaware River and Bay Authority in 2021. He has served as chairperson of the Delaware Founders Insurance Trust since 2011. He served as the United Way of Delaware co-chair in 2009-10. He is a member of the Beebe Healthcare Finance Committee and an emeritus member of the Beebe Healthcare Foundation. He is the managing partner of Stewart Becker Properties, which owns and operates the Inn at Canal Square. He retired from the U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps at the rank of lieutenant colonel, having served 25 years of active and reserve duty. He has been in Lewes since 1978 and became a full-time resident in 2000.

Richard “Ric” Moore: Moore and his wife Kathy moved to Lewes in 2010 from Baltimore, where they raised five kids. Moore spent 37 years in federal service – 31 at the U.S. Department of Energy as team leader for the International Renewable Energy Program and associate professor at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He serves on the Oversight Board for the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility and as volunteer mediator at the Center for Community Justice. Moore also organized the Lewes Community Partnership. Moore’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from Antioch, a master’s in education from Harvard, a master’s in business from Wharton, and doctoral studies at University of Maryland Global Campus. 

Andrew Williams: Andrew, 45, was born and raised in Lewes. He graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1994 along with his wife Rita. They returned to Lewes from New York in 2014. Andrew has worked for his current employer, a data intelligence firm, since 2005, and Rita is a manager with Beebe Healthcare Oncology Services. They have two sons, Keenan, 14, and Bodhi, 12.

Fisher’s Cove has been a hot-button issue for the last few years. In your opinion, did the city – from planning commission to council – handle the issue appropriately and would you have done anything differently if it could be done over again?

Becker: The Fisher’s Cove property was zoned R-2 residential, enabling the developer’s application with the Lewes Planning Commission, which thoroughly reviewed the application before denying it. The mayor and city council supported that denial, resulting in three developer-filed lawsuits against the city. After extensive consultation with legal consultants, reviewing potential liability if developers prevailed, costs of a protracted legal battle and recent damage awards, a decision was made to seek a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, part of that process involved legal constraints restricting the release of information. However, maximum efforts were made to address the concerns of nearby residents and the community at large. The pending subdivision ordinance changes would help address land-use development.

Moore: In my view, rejecting Fisher’s Cove on the basis of environmental harm was and is correct. I would not have settled a spurious lawsuit, given that both the state code and the Lewes City Charter protect the city and its officials from lawsuits for doing their appointed duty – unless there is self-dealing, malfeasance or incompetence. Now the community is being unfairly saddled with the costs, allegedly exceeding $600,000. I don't understand how the city could justify suing itself in the BPW case and then capitulate to developers in the Fisher’s Cove matter. That sets a dangerous precedent.

Williams: Fisher’s Cove could have been handled better. Even prior to the plan being filed, there was not a recognition of the potential deficiency in the code that may have shaped the outcome differently. Due to this, there have been amendments made to the code and some changes to land-use code are currently under review. Communication was another learning point. Stakeholders at the outset were communicative and seemed to build to some level of trust. Discourse broke down and the direction pivoted toward litigation, as has been the case too often in our recent history. This path cost time, money and, more importantly, emotional and mental angst for residents. We should have done everything we could to have the necessary statutory structure in place and ensured there was a dialogue among all impacted parties.

Another issue that divided the town was the menhaden net reel situation. In your view, what role does mayor and city council play in preserving and highlighting Lewes history?

Becker: The relocation of the net reel without consultation with the city was unfortunate. The city has long been committed to preserving and protecting our history. The leasing of the former Lewes Public Library to the Lewes Historical Society for the creation of the Lewes History Museum underscores the city’s commitment to recognizing historical events that have shaped Lewes. As mayor, and as a private citizen, I have worked to ensure that the 391-year history of Lewes is respected, and available to residents and visitors. The net reel is an important artifact of the menhaden fishing industry, representative of the diverse community that worked and lived here and deserves preservation.

Moore: Unquestionably, the mayor and city council have an obligation to preserve and promote an accurate history of Lewes for the benefit of this community. And because the reel is an integral part of our storied past as the largest seafood port in America, it should be protected on a museum campus near the site of shipyards operated by Black shipcarpenters like Peter Lewis. But rather than embrace their obligation, our city officials spent far too much time and money trying to solve a non-problem better suited for community mediation, rather than focusing on truly pressing matters like overdevelopment.

Williams: The mayor and council have an obligation to preserve Lewes’ history. This goes beyond preserving old structures and buildings; it also includes the system of government framed by our charter. We have commissions and committees that are in place to ensure that we are earnest in our efforts to highlight and maintain our history appropriately. We need to ensure the members of our committees have the right range of skills, tools and interest, and we need to support these commissions. It is my desire that Lewes will get back to the practice of preserving and highlighting, and not politicizing our history.

How should the city address the unprecedented growth happening just outside the city limits? 

Becker: The unprecedented growth occurring on county lands surrounding Lewes underscores the need to collaborate with Sussex County Council and DelDOT. The concerns of Lewes need to be heard and respected. We adopted a memorandum of understanding with the county stressing the need for collaboration, and we hired a city planner to define our needs more clearly. However, the availability of developable land surrounding the city, and purchasers seeking the qualities of Lewes life, are driving growth. Annexation would enable us to better manage development. In 2000, I participated in a workshop detailing the advantages of annexation, but no action was taken. At this point, we need to remain actively engaged with county and state officials to protect the interests of Lewes.

Moore: First, we must use our state-required comprehensive plan – with its force of law – to implement a research-driven, sustainable development roadmap which includes strategies for protecting property, public safety and emergency services, along with a consistent plan for annexation. We will also need to establish collaborative state and local partnerships that can help us achieve this roadmap. Likewise, local real estate agents should be required to inform potential homebuyers of known environmental risks, and community members be educated around the dangers of sprawl. I would also propose a three-year moratorium on new development until our current comprehensive planning process is completed.      

Williams: Many feel this is a situation with no solution; however, there are three things to highlight. 1. We need to continue to get our own house in order by amending our own code. 2. The county and state don’t hesitate to come to us when they need something, as we’ve seen with the Donovan-Smith annexation and the recent dialogue with the county regarding Lewes BPW facilities and use of our outfall. What specifically did we or will we ask from them? We have to do a more effective job managing relationships. 3. We no longer live in a world where communities/jurisdictions can ignore the harmful environmental impact their decisions or lack of actions have on their neighbors. Lewes needs to consider any economic, political or legal actions that may be necessary to protect the well-being of its citizens.

What action should be taken by the city to address sea-level rise and the effects of climate change?

Becker: The city’s mitigation team has worked to ensure that Lewes has effective plans in place. The efforts of the Lewes Executive Committee on Resiliency, appointed in 2021, to work with DNREC and University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration on a grant to identify specific resiliency issues is helpful to this effort. This committee identified 14 additional actions to improve the city’s resiliency, of which two will come before mayor and city council: 1. Development of a disclosure letter for properties located within the floodplain, and 2. Creation of a city resiliency fund. We also need to work with state and federal officials to access their expertise and grant funding. Managing climate change and sea-level rise is an imperative for Lewes.

Moore: We need to plan, with the long view and broad perspective firmly in mind, to identify and implement evidence-based strategies and sustainable development policies for lessening, adapting to and bouncing back from the inevitable impact of both climate change and rising seas. We can start by preserving woodlands, wetlands and farmlands that play a critical role in achieving all three of these objectives, while climate-proofing our systems, services and structures to withstand major environmental disruptions. For example, we should implement community choice utilities that incorporate sustainable energy solutions and strictly enforce building codes that limit impervious surface coverage.  

Williams: Lewes cannot take on the challenges of sea-level rise alone. We will need help from state and federal sources – funding and expertise – and will need to come at this together. The current committee on resiliency had a limited scope. Prior to that, there was a sea-level rise subcommittee that provided some recommendations that lacked community support. It takes time and inclusion to get something like this right. However, as was mentioned in a previous answer in this Q&A, we need effective, inclusive discourse. We need to stop talking past each other and respect points of view even if they are different from ours. We need to take on these challenges as a community.

Candidates forum set May 3

The Greater Lewes Civic Coalition will host a candidates’ forum at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, for the three candidates running for mayor. The forum will be held in person at the Lewes Public Library and available via Zoom.

To register to attend by Zoom, go to

City of Lewes residents who wish to request an absentee ballot may do so in person at city hall or electronically at


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter