Fenwick Island election sees new and familiar faces

The ballots have been counted, and the Fenwick Island Town Council has a new lineup after the Aug. 6 election.

The three winners were council newcomer Bernard “Bernie” H. Merritt Jr. (258 votes), incumbent Gardner Bunting (241) and former councilwoman Vicki Carmean (203).

They defeated candidate Kevin Carouge (154).

According to Town Hall, a total of 284 people voted in the 2016 election.

Carmean thanked her friends, neighbors and husband for their support. She said door-to-door campaigning was “a good way to get to know your neighbors.”

Initially, she said, she’s interested in serving on any kind of hiring committee that may form to hire a new town manager, as Merritt Burke IV left for a new opportunity just before the election.

The candidates had all previously spoken to the contention that has filled town meetings of late.

“I’m gonna keep my promises,” said Carmean, who returns to the council, she said, to encourage civility in the small community. She said she’ll also work to encourage or improve transparency, keep people informed and be “the watchdog” for the people.

Carmean said she also hopes to see Fenwick town charter language regarding elections changed — as something that has caused “quite a bit of confusion and consternation. … Our intention was never to disenfranchise people.”

“I would like to bridge the contentious divisions that are here in the community, and we want to keep Fenwick as a ‘Quiet Resort,’ but we need to move into the 21st century,” Carmean said.

Merritt said, “Things aren’t as broken as some people say they are. … I think things need to be improved a lot … but I think the message that ‘We need to do all kinds of things differently’ just didn’t fly.”

He also agreed that personal attacks won’t get Fenwick anywhere, especially when “Everybody’s kind of got the same goal.

“I think we want to work on the commercial space a little … not to eliminate anything, only see if there’s a way to freshen it up,” such as blocking commercial trash bins from public view.

He said he humbly thanked the residents for giving him support and a chance to serve.

“I think the majority of folks think the town council’s doing a good job in moving things forward,” he added. “There’s always room for improvement, but I don’t think we should turn the apple cart upside down.”

Bunting was not available for comment.

Council terms are two years. Outgoing council members Diane Tingle and Bill Weistling did not run for re-election.