As of Saturday, June 5, South Bethany will have a new mayor and two new council members, with the election on Saturday, May 29, of Jay Headman as the town’s next mayor and council newcomers George Junkin Jr. and Sue Callaway, as well as the re-election of incumbent Councilman John Fields.
Voters went to the polls over the course of the traditional Saturday before Memorial Day to cast their votes for three council seats and the mayorship of the town.
South Bethany voters this year elected current Councilman Jay Headman as the town’s new mayor, over Councilman Robert Youngs, 395 to 176. Voters also selected Junkin, Callaway and Fields for two-year council terms that expire in 2012, with 374, 366 and 340 votes, respectively.
Incumbent council members Diane Matera, who was completing the final year of a term of a former councilman, and Marge Gassinger, former mayor and current mayor pro-tem, did not file for re-election.
Three-term mayor Gary Jayne was term-limited and must take off at least one term before being eligible to serve again as mayor. Jayne, at the council’s May 21 meeting – his last as mayor, at least for now – symbolically concluded the meeting with a bang of his gavel, which he emphasized he had never been called upon to use during his tenure in the post.
Headman, a longtime educator and administrator in public school systems, has lived in the town full-time for 10 years. He said during his appeal to voters on May 21 that it was South Bethany’s small-town charm, peacefulness and the water that drew him there.
The five-year council member said he knows well the importance of teamwork and working together to solve issues, of knowing what the community wants and believes in.
Right now, Headman said, his priorities are on a balanced budget, continuing to work on financial projections and reviewing the town’s sources of revenue and expenses, and setting aside money for its future needs. It’s a platform that reflects Headman’s service on the towns’ new Budget & Finance Committee, which he is recommending become a standing committee for the town.
Headman said he also would like the town to look at enforcement of fees and taxes. He also has served as chairman of the Tidal Pump Committee and the Canal Water Quality Committee.
The election of Headman as mayor also opens up his council seat for a reappointment. The town charter calls for a replacement council member to be appointed by the new council to serve the final year of Headman’s term on the council. No date for that selection has been set. The council can select anyone to fill the position for the coming year, whether they were a candidate for the post in the election this year or not.
Callaway has been a full-time resident in South Bethany for a year, but she and her husband have owned property there since 2001.
“It means more to us than we imagined it would,” she said of the town on May 21. “I want very much to work on the wellbeing of South Bethany and do whatever I can to promote South Bethany as a terrific place to live, to buy a home, and a terrific place to rent.”
Callaway said her priorities as a council member would be: to promote the maintenance and enhancements of the town’s beaches and canals; fiscal responsibility; communication; beautification; and increasing volunteerism.
Describing herself as a consensus builder, Callaway – one of the minds behind the creation of the Center for Missing and Exploited children – said she is also not afraid to take a stand on issues she feels are important.
Callaway is currently the second-vice-president of the South Bethany Property Owners’ Association (SBPOA) and its liaison to the Beautification Committee. She noted on May 21 that she would be resigning her officer position with the SBPOA if elected to the council, to eliminate any conflict of interest.
Fields was the only incumbent council member running for re-election in 2010.
“I’m an incumbent. For me, that’s bad news,” he joked on May 21. “Voters in South Bethany aren’t always kind to incumbents. But, as my mother told me, ‘Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.’ If you appreciate what I’ve done, return the devil you know,” he advised voters.
Voters did just that on May 29, giving a clear margin of victory to Fields and the other successful candidates.
Telling the story of one resident who spends much of her time picking up trash long the beach, Fields on May 21 said his objective in serving on the council was much the same as hers in that effort: “to do something for the community we live in to make it a better place to live.”
Fields serves as the council’s liaison to the town planning commission. As such, he has been heavily involved in changes to the town comprehensive plan and ordinances in recent years.
Junkin has vacationed in the town since 1953 and has lived there full-time since 2001. He is the editor and publisher of the SBPOA newsletter. He has also been a member of the Canal Water Quality Committee since 2005 and a longtime member of the Planning Commission, of which he is currently vice-chairman – a position he, too, will have to resign.
Like many of this year’s crop of candidates, Junkin said his focus will be partly on town finances. A member of the Budget & Finance Committee, he said he will be working for fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget.
Addressing one of the more controversial issues in the town this year, Junkin on May 21 said he personally favors adding a pavilion to the Richard Hall Memorial Park, but he said his real interest in the issue is learning what the citizens’ desires are in reference to the park.
“As a councilperson, I want to know: what does the town want?”
Any verdict from the town on the potential park, as possibly seen in the May 29 vote, was murky.
Youngs strongly supported the notion of a referendum on the issue in advance of additional expenditures by the town and frequently butted heads with Jayne over the issue in the last year, making it one of his signature issues.
Callaway and Junkin had both expressed support for the notion and came out on top of the voting. Candidate Mary Suazo, on the other hand, had strongly supported more investigation before a referendum, and she finished nearly 150 votes behind the successful candidates.
The new council members and the new mayor will be sworn in at a reorganizational meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m. at town hall. The meeting will also include selection of new council officers, discussion of council goals and consideration of the council’s 2010-2011 meeting schedule.
Joseph “Jay” Headman Jr. 395
Robert A. Youngs 176
•George Junkin Jr. 374
•Susan “Sue” Callaway 366
•John P. Fields 340
Mary L. Suazo 192
Andrew T. Ross 167
Michael G. Morabito 125