Report due Sept. 12 key to Dewey Beach election
The Cape Gazette met recently with all five candidates running for Dewey Beach Town Council. It's an impressive group, people who all would bring experience, insight and knowledge to council.
Political newcomers TJ Redefer, Jill Compello and Paul Bauer all say the key to this election is Town Manager Marc Appelbaum and the complaints filed against him by department heads and others.
All three say Appelbaum should have been suspended with pay until the investigation is complete. They say town council acted improperly allowing him to remain on the job. Redefer said regardless of the investigation's outcome, Dewey should invest in a consultant to restore order among town employees. Compello suggested training for all employees, including the town manager, to improve relations. Bauer said too much power is centralized in one person.
Complicating the investigation is the recent revelation that a town police officer's weapon, ammunition, Taser and baton were stolen from his unlocked police car. To date, the Cape Gazette has learned of no specific discipline faced by the officer, whose gun has yet to be recovered. Yet this revelation gives credence to the decision of town council, which may believe charges against Appelbaum were little more than an attempt to divert attention from police department problems and to use town employees to attack Appelbaum.
Both Hanson and Cooke said council is awaiting the investigation report before taking action. They both support Appelbaum's effectiveness in handling the budget, which they said gave all department heads the funding they asked for, while still achieving a $750,000 surplus, according to a recent audit. They also pointed to Dewey's success in mitigating serious flooding on its bayside.
The investigation report is expected to be released to council Tuesday, Sept. 12 – after the Cape Gazette's Monday deadline. The commissioners must then decide what to make public.
If the town manager is guilty of wrongdoing, it may be time for a change. But if the investigation finds the complaints unfounded, then voters have every reason to support the incumbents. In any case, at least one new person will take a seat and bring new ideas to the table.