After finishing up her two-year term on the Millville Town Council, Joan Bennett is ready to move on. But, don’t take that as a plan to sit on the sidelines. She has firm plan on being a very active and concerned citizen.
“I’m still going to attend the meetings. It will just be me looking at them instead of looking at that one person in the audience! Now, there’ll be two of us out there,” she said.
A lifestyle change brought Bennett and her husband, Mark Reeve, to Delaware in 2003, and they settled in Millville.
Bennett comes from a small sea-side town in southeastern Connecticut, on the Long Island Sound, that she had lived in since birth.
“It feels very similar being here,” she said.
Her involvement with town government started early, as she had a talent for shorthand and would take the minutes for the zoning board in her hometown. Both her undergraduate and master’s degree are in political science.
“I always had an interest in town government,” she said. “And [minute-taking] provided me the education for the basics in town government — just being there and sitting in on those meetings.”
Bennett said it was a natural stepping stone to the various positions she held after that. Now she has run the full circle of town government.
“I remember I would listen to them drone on and on about zoning, and wonder what I was doing there, thinking, ‘I should be out there having fun,’” she recalled. “But it’s interesting to think about how that wonderful circle of knowledge has come around, and I ended up in my professional life as an aide to the first selectman, and then eventually here in Millville on the council.”
She shared her passion for town government in talking about the future of Millville and its people.
“Millville is in a time now where it’s almost like they are just getting started and really need the efforts of full-time governance. In just the four and a half years since I moved here, we have had vast development. And when I say vast, I mean vast,” she emphasized. “When I moved into my home, the Super Giant was still the Robinson farmhouse. And with that land development comes people and commerce, and I feel privileged watching it grow.”
One of the things that Bennett said she is most proud of is the fact that Millville has adopted new planning and zoning ordinances.
“It was an understatement to say it was necessary,” she said. “To bring them to the level that the town requires was the right thing to do for the people. It was good for the town and fair for its citizens. They will be comprehensive in their scope, and it feels good to have them in place.”
Bennett said she has two hopes for the town of Millville: that more citizens get involved in their community and that police protection becomes a reality.
“Often, it was disappointing to see one or two people in attendance at town meetings. We really don’t see regular numbered attendance. And as the town continues to grow, it is essential that people get involved,” she said. “Whether directly or indirectly, every decision made affects them, and they deserve to give themselves the opportunity to be educated and speak their mind. I feel very strongly about that.”
She said she also feels very strongly about the presence of police.
“Currently, we have part-time coverage provided by the State Police. We have a thriving business district that is bustling even in the off-season, and with commercial growth comes the need for police protection. The businesses deserve that full-time protection.”
As for her own future, Bennett is open to the possibilities. Running her own real estate title search business keeps her busy, and she is looking forward to pursuing some personal endeavors. She is also hopeful that her replacement, Carol Calvarese, will find her way.
“We’ll see what happens,” she said. “I’m excited that Carol will be on board. She is a new resident that has shown interest. And as I was joking before about how you might have a one or two-person in attendance, and the need to get involved and speak your mind — well, she’s doing it — in a nice big way! It’s good to see new faces and voices.”