The 2020 election provided a shakeup for Lewes Mayor and City Council.
After six years with the same five elected officials, challengers Andrew Williams and Tim Ritzert overwhelmingly defeated incumbents Fred Beaufait and Dennis Reardon in the July 18 election.
Williams was the clear winner with 634 votes, 137 more than runner-up Ritzert with 497. Challenger Kay Carnahan finished third with 404 votes, while Reardon and Beaufait collected 247 and 134, respectively.
The winners will be sworn in prior to council’s Monday, Aug. 10 regular meeting.
“The fact that the three challengers got the majority of the vote shows [residents] want change,” Williams said. “They got it.”
“It was a resounding defeat of the status quo,” Ritzert said. “It’s about change. It’s what Andrew ran on. It’s what I ran on. This is what the voters wanted.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of people submitted absentee ballots. Of the 1,029 people who voted, only 290 voted in person.
This year’s election was the first in six years. Voter turnout was 68.3 percent.
Williams said it’s now time to get to work.
“I look forward to more clear and direct communication with the town itself,” Williams said. “That was our message. We want to involve [residents], and that’s my intention.”
The challenge, Williams said, is to deliver on some of the things residents want.
Williams, 44, was born and raised in Lewes. He attended Dickinson College and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He lived in New York City with his wife for a time before moving back to Lewes, where they are raising two children. For the past 12 years, Williams has served as director for GlobalData PLC, a data and business intelligence firm, providing data and analysis to clients across multiple industries such as energy, consumer goods, technology and healthcare in order to make informed decisions and develop solutions for their respective businesses.
Ritzert, 66, was born in Washington, D.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from James Madison University. He worked for Virginia Power and e.spire Communications in design, project management, contracts management and regulatory affairs. He purchased a home in Lewes about 10 years ago and made it his full-time residence shortly thereafter.
Next month will be the conclusion of a nine-year run for Beaufait, who is currently the city’s deputy mayor. Beaufait, 82, was elected in 2011 and won reelection in 2013. He ran unopposed in 2015 and 2017 – terms changed to three years in late 2015. Reardon will cap seven years in elected office. He was elected in 2013 and ran unopposed in 2015 and 2017.
Among tasks to be handled by Lewes Mayor and City Council in August will be appointments to the city’s various committees and commissions. Reardon, secretary of the council, sits on the traffic safety management advisory committee, and is ex officio on the mitigation planning team and the planning commission. He is also city council's liaison to Sussex County Council.
Beaufait chairs the traffic safety management advisory committee and heads many of the city’s ad hoc committees, including the beach parking committee.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.