For the second year in a row, a municipal election will not be held in Dewey Beach, as the two incumbents were the only ones to file for the two open commissioner seats.
As the 5 p.m. Aug. 18 filing deadline struck, town election officials certified via town charter that Mayor Bill Stevens and Commissioner Gary Persinger are deemed elected for a full two-year term each. The election had been set for Saturday, Sept. 17.
Both commissioner candidates had previously expressed their interest in maintaining the town’s positive momentum and responsible fiscal approach.
Stevens, a resident commissioner, was first elected in 2020 and was subsequently elected mayor by his fellow commissioners in 2021. As mayor, Stevens is an ex officio member of all town committees.
Stevens said the town is lucky to have a commissioner like Persinger in one of the five seats.
“His consistent review and analytical thinking make the council and the town better,” Stevens said. “I feel very fortunate that the underlying message of 'no election’ is that we, as a team, are doing a good job. I look forward to continuing to serve Dewey Beach, the town we all love.”
First elected in 2016, Persinger, a nonresident commissioner, has owned property in Dewey Beach for more than 30 years. He serves as commissioner liaison to the audit, comprehensive development plan and climate change committees.
“I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve again as a commissioner and look forward to working again with Mayor Stevens and the other commissioners,” Persinger said. “That we have not needed an election in the past two election cycles I think reflects the collective efforts we have made as a town council in following a deliberative process that respects disparate views but recognizes the need to work collaboratively for resolution on a wide range of issues.”
However, Persinger said, town leaders need more help.
“In October, we will reauthorize all the town committees and welcome new volunteers to participate in all areas – town finances, infrastructure and climate change, improving the town code, and continued enhancement of the town's image. The opportunities for virtual participation make being a part of the process easier than ever before,” he said.
Commissioners have a busy year ahead as they work with other town officials to plan for a new town hall and police department, and hire a new police chief to replace Sam Mackert, who retired June 30.
In 2021, an election was also not held because Commissioners Paul Bauer and David Jasinski, and candidate Elisabeth Gibbings were the only ones to file for the three open seats.
Town Manger Bill Zolper said the Dewey Beach Civic League will still hold its scheduled candidates debate at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Lifesaving Station, 1 Dagsworthy Ave. Last year, the Dewey Beach Civic League also held a friendly forum with commissioners-elect.