Mayor Bill Stevens files for re-election in Dewey

Incumbent vows to continue town’s positive momentum
July 22, 2022

Dewey Beach Mayor Bill Stevens is one who learns from his mistakes.

“I decided to run for commissioner and failed in 2018,” he said. “My reasons were simple in that I chose this town as my permanent beach house location and wanted to preserve and improve it. I lost the first election because I didn’t do my homework and didn’t have a deep understanding of the issues, concerns and goals of the residents.”

After taking his lumps, Stevens regrouped, volunteering his time as a citizen to serve on and chair town workgroups, including budget and finance, investment and audit committees, and listening to residents.

“I prepared for the next election [in 2020] and was able to earn a seat at the table,” he said. “The team of commissioners granted me the opportunity to represent the town as its mayor this past September, and we have been able to get things done with little to no controversy and dissent.”

After announcing his intention to run in the 2022 municipal race July 1, Stevens officially filed as a resident commissioner July 13.

“I believe that this team can continue to provide this town with responsible yet progressive leadership,” he said. “I sincerely enjoy what we’re doing. If the commissioners decide to ask me to be mayor again, I will graciously accept, and hopefully continue to make Dewey Beach residents proud.” 

Stevens, who has a background in business, accounting and auditing, said he characterizes things into three buckets – people, process and technology – when looking toward making improvements. 

“On the people side, we have five commissioners who sincerely care about this town without any personal agendas,” he said. “We have a town hall being led by Town Manager Bill Zolper that is proactive and present and getting things done. Through his leadership, every department is not only working well, but working together. Over the last two years, we have hired a town manager, an alderman, and we’ll be looking for a new chief of police, and I remain confident that the team will continue to perform as it has – great.”

The search for a new police chief will be a transparent process, Stevens said, anticipating the position will be posted at the end of the summer.

“On the process side, we have a fiscal approach to our agenda items and understand the decisions that we make today have an effect on the future,” he said. “Last year was the best fiscal year the town had, enabling us to exceed budgeted net income by $2 million. We do recognize that some of our success, like transfer tax, is not in our control, but keeping our eye on accommodation and hotel tax, combined with parking revenue, allows the town to pay competitive wages.”

Over the last year, the town added a much-needed climate change committee to address sea-level rise, Stevens said.  

“Dewey Beach has successfully raised the dunes to keep the ocean from reaching Route 1, even when the Mother’s Day nor’easter parked itself for six days here, but the bay is an issue that needs to be addressed very soon,” he said.

The town is applying a lot of infrastructure band-aids now, Stevens said, and he would like to be more proactive in protecting the streets and infrastructure. A Center for the Inland Bays study showed that by 2050, Rehoboth Bay will rise about 14 inches, he said, and Dewey is only about 4 inches above grade.

“We have to protect the homes on the bay and crumbling infrastructure,” he said. “That future is now.” 

On the technology side, Stevens said the town successfully navigated the pandemic and continues to use virtual meetings when appropriate.  

“We have also identified accommodation compliance as a potential issue, and are implementing software and utilizing consultants to help us manage the process,” he said. “We continue to look for ways to be innovative and productive.”

The town was also successful in securing a $3 million grant toward construction of a new town hall, he said.  

“Over the next year, our town will be blessed with a state-of-the-art police department and town hall that will enable us to provide new and improved services to our residents and visitors,” he said. “When we started talking about it a year ago, it seemed like a faraway dream to get funding. We need a town hall and police department that are as operational as you’d expect in a major city like Wilmington, because that’s what we are four months of the year.”

With monetary pledges made by residents and the reallocation of $2.1 million from the town’s unassigned fund to its town hall fund, Stevens said, “Dewey is well-positioned to build a town hall that will last a lifetime.”

Despite the fact that things are running smoothly, Stevens said, he is frustrated when large organizations come in and take advantage of the small town. Stevens referred to a November 2021 settlement of a lawsuit filed by Dewey residents Alex Pires, Diane Cooley and John Snow in which Verizon agreed to move 5G poles it installed on the dunes in September 2020.

“They put up five poles in a day, but it’s taking them two years to figure out how to take them down,” he said. “The state awarded a grant to help move the poles off the beach to the center island – it won’t even cost Verizon anything. I don’t understand what the motivation is for not doing it, unless they’re worried about setting a precedent for moving them in other areas.”

Similarly, Stevens said, state and federal agreements that allow wind farms off the coast are out of the town’s control.

“At the end of the day, I’m proud to be in Dewey Beach,” he said. “I’m hoping this council has another year, or two years, together to continue to press things forward.”

In addition to Stevens’ seat, a two-year seat held by Commissioner Gary Persinger also expires in September. The candidate filing deadline is Thursday, Aug. 18; as of the Cape Gazette press deadline, only Stevens had filed to run.

The voter registration deadline is also Aug. 18, and the election is set for Saturday, Sept. 17. Eligible voters can check the town website to see if they are registered. For more information, including how to vote by absentee ballot, call Dewey Beach Town Hall at 302-227-6363 or go to


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