The 2016 Dewey Beach municipal election is set: three candidates will face off for two open commissioner seats. The candidates are incumbent commissioners Gary Mauler and Courtney Riordan, and newcomer Gary Persinger.
Three weeks ago, Mauler accused Mayor Diane Hanson of playing dirty politics, when he said the mayor told his wife that if he ran for re-election he would be sued by a town employee.
On Aug. 22, Mauler, who filed Aug. 12, said he decided to run for re-election because he didn’t think anything was going to happen and, he said, there are issues in town too important to not run.
“There are a lot of things in town where somebody with my background should be a part of the discussion,” said Mauler, an engineer, pointing to flooding issues, infrastructure issues and town governing issues.
As an example, he said, the town has approved $37,000 with a 15 percent contigency to help repave and stripe the bayside parking lot on Van Dyke Avenue, in a manner similar to the redesign of the bayside parking lot on Dickinson Avenue that took place in 2015.
Based on what he paid to have his driveway redone, he said, he would be surprised if a project of than magnitude would cost less than $200,000.
“I have the background to be able to check on the engineering of those capital projects,” he said. “The other commissioners are nice people, but they lack the ability to analyze and make sound decisions on these projects.”
This time last year, Riordan, a former mayor and attorney, was so frustrated with the bickering on council that he said more than once if he was up for re-election he might not run. He said there was a clash of strong personalities among certain commissioners and they had become disenchanted with each other.
Rather than recognizing differences and dealing with them objectively, Riordan said, issues were being dealt with personally and subjectively.
“It’s gotten better,” he said of council’s working relationship over the past year.
Riordan, who was the first person to file, said he decided to run for re-election because he wants to play a role in the development of the town’s state-mandated comprehensive plan. Delaware requires a comprehensive plan be completed every 10 years, and since February, a working group has been working on Dewey’s plan, due in 2017.
“I plan on being in Dewey for at least 10 more years, and I think I have something to contribute to the process,” he said. “I’ve come to appreciate the great features of Dewey, and I’d like to see them remain. Change is inevitable, but I’d like to help.”
Persinger, who spent his career doing quantitative research for pharmaceutical companies, said he’s been thinking about running for office for years. In the past year, Persinger has been appointmented to the town’s planning and zoning committee and the the comprehensive plan working group.
Persinger said both committee’s serve important roles for the town. Planning and zoning is critical to property owners and businesses, he said, while the comprehensive plan is a huge, messy project that needs to be done.
“I enjoy doing that kind of work,” he said.
Upcoming election events
The Dewey Beach Civic League will be hosting its annual Candidates Forum at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Dewey Beach Lion’s Club, 115 McKinley Ave.
The event is open to the public and all three candidates said they plan to attend. There will be several questions from the civic league’s board and several from the public in attendance. An informal meet-and-greet will follow the forum.
The election take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, in the Dewey Beach Life Saving Station, 1 Dagsworthy Ave.
Absentee voting begins Monday, Aug. 29 at town hall, 105 Rodney Ave. Absentee voting hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (except Labor Day); and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 3 and 10. Absentee voting at town hall ends at noon, Friday, Sept. 16.