Letters to the Editor — May 18, 2018


Reader: ‘Get the nasty out’ of election

Editor:

It has been said that the lower the stakes, the more brutal the politics. Perhaps that’s too strong a statement for the local South Bethany election season, but it is truly sad to see the degraded and misleading rhetoric that has accompanied this year’s campaigning.

Letters to residents, disparaging emails to neighbors and efforts to discredit the work of others, rather than lead with the candidates’ merits, are causing levels of angst I never have seen in my 40 years living here. This follows a year of rumor and misattribution, with fears of police outsourcing (never actually considered), the topic that prompted road signs against this fiction leading the noise.

While outsourcing is not happening, and never was going to happen, investigating all options did happen, and to that end, we have good governance.

Read the various statements by those campaigning, and everyone says he/she is a star, with accomplishments claimed personally that, in many cases, more likely are attributable to their collective than individual statuses, so hence their indistinguishing commonality.

Then, there is storytelling. Creating narratives in a fake-news era shouldn’t be such a surprise, but subjectivity and misleading statements, rumor and innuendo mean voters really can’t know truth from fiction.

Did showing up as an invited guest (not a committee member) to one committee meeting give someone the right to lay claim to the work of that committee? Does disputing the narrative of one candidate with the “real” story really help us decide for whom we should vote?

This past year has been particularly nasty. Our current nasty noise has me wondering whether we can still be part of Delaware’s quiet beach towns.

How can voters choose? Well, for one, don’t be misled about levels of dissension. Look at voting records. Town Council is more united than divided. Sure, there is discourse and debate on Council, as well there should be, but at the end of the day, Council comes together with majority if not unanimous voting patterns. A good Council is one which reflects healthy debate, where disparate viewpoints are welcome and good leadership ultimately drives cohesion and decisions. We have that.

What else? Run on your merit, candidates, not on berating your fellow candidates or disparaging their accomplishments or, worse yet, misleading the voters about the record or your actual level of engagement.

I shudder to think what candidates might do if Delaware election campaign laws didn’t have rules limiting local election expenditures. Imagine the TV ads we might be subjected to! And, as long as I am here, stop maligning our mayor, my mayor who speaks truth to power, the one sure candidate I am voting for, Pat Voveris.

Say what you have done, say what your accomplishments are, say why you are the right person for the job. I want to vote with positive, not negative, input. If the glass is half-full, let’s talk about that half, candidates.

My quiet little town has no room for nasty. My town, my South Bethany, is more than half-full. I’m for that, and I will vote for the candidates who can deliver that. Let’s drive nasty out of town.

Honey Busby
South Bethany

 

Callaway casting vote for Saxton

Editor:

As the husband of a South Bethany Town Councilwoman, I have been receiving a barrage of questions asking, “Who are you voting for South Bethany Mayor?” My standard answer is:

(1) I am voting for the candidate who is truly fiscally responsible and will only spend Town dollars when it truly benefits the Town.

(2) I am voting for the candidate who promises true transparency in all matters related to our town.

(3) I am voting for the candidate who pledges to never spend taxpayer dollars superfluously or on issues that inflate their ego.

(4) I am voting for the candidate I believe will let our highly qualified Town staff and volunteers do their jobs without being micromanaged.

I am proudly voting for Tim Saxton, and I hope you will as well.

Robbie Callaway
South Bethany

 

Former mayor backs Saxton’s bid

Editor:

As a former mayor of the Town of South Bethany, I feel compelled to speak out about the upcoming election — specifically for the position of mayor.

I believe the members of the Town Council, the town staff and the property owners deserve a change in leadership.

From my mayoral experiences, the council and mayor deal with many issues that require planning and communication among all. This collaborative approach helps ensure the best results.

The town staff needs a mayor who plays the role of oversight — inserting themselves only when needed. A new town manager was hired with excellent credentials. The other staff members have outstanding work ethics and proven records.

I believe Tim Saxton, who has experience as a project leader, will concentrate on the “big-picture” issues facing the Town and leave the “day-to-day” activities to the town manager and her staff. He will ensure everyone works together to create a positive atmosphere.

The mayor and other council members should be focused on the Town’s five-year plan and how to address and fund those activities. With Tim’s financial and planning background, I believe he should be the next choice for mayor of South Bethany.

Kathy Jankowski
South Bethany

 

Junkin supports Saxton for mayor

Editor:

I have decided to support and vote for Tim Saxton. As he stated in the letter that he sent to all South Bethany homeowners, “he is supported for mayor by 5 of the 6 current Town Council members.”

These five have worked closely with the current mayor for at least the last two years. Why would they support Saxton and not support the current mayor? I have spoken to all five of them and concluded that I should support and vote for Saxton. There are reasons why they support Saxton instead of our current mayor.

Saxton is a fiscal conservative. In 2009, when South Bethany had some very significant fiscal issues, Saxton competed with seven others for three seats on the Town Council. Saxton was voted in with more votes than any of the other six candidates. He was appointed as treasurer and successfully resolved the fiscal issues.

I support Saxton because he is committed to having 24/7 police-force coverage, consistent with the South Bethany Comprehensive Plan.

I agree with his initiative to request that the council work to develop a long-range capital plan with the objective of developing a complete list of capital projects (including: improved beach access, improved canal water quality, resurfacing of roads, renovating the police building and mitigating the nuisance flooding of South Bethany’s streets and properties), assigning prioritization of listed items, defining a proposal on funding each project and finally present to the public for their input.

There was an interesting article, “South Bethany to consider releasing police reports,” in the May 4, 2018, Coastal Point, by Laura Walter. I have copied a quote from the article below:

“In 2017, the Town of South Bethany paid thousands of dollars to have its police department and employment policies evaluated. The reports prompted the town council to change policies, police rankings and even the town charter.”

In fact “thousands of dollars” is closer to $110,000 actual, versus a budgeted amount of $25,000 for all legal activities required for the Town.

Saxton will bring a fresh perspective to South Bethany town government and work collaboratively to avoid this excessive spending.

George Junkin II
South Bethany

 

Reader touts Saxton’s qualifications

Editor:

Recently, I saw the reoccurring mantra, “See Something, Say Something,” and I thought, this really applies to so much more than lonely knapsacks in public spaces. It definitely applies to this year’s mayoral election in the Town of South Bethany.

As a member of the Town’s Budget & Finance Committee, I am privy to as much information as any other property owner. The difference is that, as a member of the committee, I work with financial information to complete a myriad of projects. One of these is looking at historical trends for budgeting and forecasting purposes. This exercise often leads to the identification of outliers, i.e., expenses or revenues that are just plain “out of whack.”

One of these areas is the Town’s legal expenses. From 2009 through 2013, this category averaged $11,500. In that past four years, the average has quadrupled, with over $109,000 in legal fees spent in the most recent fiscal year. In the same four years, certain revenue streams that could have certainly helped offset this substantial increase decreased by 50 percent. So, the problem is compounded.

The substantial increase in legal fees in the past year matters when the Town has only 1,400 property owners, of which 400 are full-time residents. It matters if the Town does not want to raise taxes. It matters if the Town wants to pay for capital projects and not have to borrow. It affects the “bottom line.”

I have worked with Tim Saxton when he headed up the Budget & Finance Committee and in recent years when he worked on the Town Council. He listens. He has no hidden agenda. He believes in open dialogue. He believes the recent consultant studies that have been paid for by the Town’s taxpayers should be available to the Town’s taxpayers.

He understands the importance of getting all the constituencies in the Town to work together for a common goal. He tackles problems head on and fosters innovative thinking. His comments in the Coastal Point are truly indicative of his approach to Town management: identify the problem, work with others to develop a game plan, be transparent with the public, execute within the set parameters and solve the problem. Above all, he has integrity and strong leadership skills. He is just plain honest.

This is why I am endorsing Tim Saxton for mayor of South Bethany.

See something, say something.

Christine Keefe
South Bethany

 

Saxton gets support for South Bethany mayor

Editor:

South Bethany is a small, close community with many volunteers serving on council and committees to enhance our town.  I respect and appreciate their time and efforts; however, we have an opportunity to elect a new mayor, Tim Saxton, whose strong skill set and experience will strengthen our town. As evidenced by 5 of 6 council members supporting Tim for mayor, his collaborative leadership style will allow South Bethany to:

• once again become fiscally sound; increasing, not depleting, our reserves;

• avoid the need to spend $100,000 on legal fees;

• allow the town manager to use her skills and experience without interference, setting goals for her to accomplish and monitoring success;

• do the upfront planning required for major projects prior to initiation;

• continually improve our town in accordance with our comprehensive plan.

I sincerely hope all owners come out or send in their votes, no matter who they support. I’ll be voting for Tim.

Linda Lewis
South Bethany

 

 

Reader responds to State News story

Editor’s Note: The following letter is in response to a May 12 article in the Delaware State News.

Editor:

Attacking Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle for his concerns regarding HB399 language as being ambiguous is ludicrous. First, I want to commend Sens. Bonini, Delcollo, Henry, Sen. Gerald Hocker, Lavelle, Lawson, Brian Pettyjohn, Richardson and Simpson for your strong stand on this issue. Careful evaluation of language set forth in the Equal Rights Amendment is not to be chastised. It is to be admired.

This intellectual response by Republicans should be viewed as an opportunity to work together with vigor on language that does reflect partisanship, considers the importance of clarity rather than interpretation, does not leave open the door for broad applicability for “future rights” which does not offer the capacity for sound judgment, and must prevent ambiguous language in such an important amendment that in turn ends up defaulting to a judge or courts.

We have seen and we have learned most of what is challenged is ending up in the courts. We must limit interpretation by judges by providing clarity. Republicans must stand strong. Bipartisanship is only worthy of praise when all sides are open to others’ viewpoints. Working on the language together... that’s bipartisanship. Believe me, the electorate is very wise. Some are more silent than others, but they have their vote coming in the ballot box. Hold onto your principles and the votes will come. You are only seeking clarity.

Diane Meyer
Millville

 

Voveris gets support for re-election

Editor:

I’m writing this letter in support of Pat Voveris, who is running for re-election as the mayor of South Bethany. I’ve known Pat personally and professionally for many years. Pat brings professionalism and dedication to solving Town issues. She takes her position seriously and is effective in obtaining results. She is proactive and not reactive.

I’ve watched Pat take on difficult and controversial issues with a cool head, and she always treats differing views with courtesy and respect. That’s not always easy, as there are as many opinions as there are residents in a small town, and people sometimes can be discourteous in voicing their concerns. Pat takes all of this in stride and always takes their views into thoughtful consideration. She is decisive; that is an important leadership trait.

I’ve also seen Pat bring her entrepreneurial spirit — honed as someone who owned her own small business that grew significantly — to the successful marketing and branding of our small but growing town in positive ways.

There are many little things that people may not have noticed, such as improved street signage and traffic mitigation, to the larger issues, such as better working conditions and a more positive work environment, and contract and legal clarifications for Town personnel. There also are important big things that you easily can see, like the hires of our police chief, town manager, critical assets to our Town.

Importantly, Pat really cares about the wellbeing of our residents and Town personnel alike, and she works tirelessly to make improvements that benefit everyone. For the property owners she helped bring forward positive Code changes that include no smoking on the beach, increased house height, bathroom restrictions removed, and voluntary vs. mandatory freeboard.

She also keeps her eye on our big issues, like canal water quality, healthy and accessible beaches, and works with other towns, mindful of encroaching development and its impact on our infrastructure and special quality of life.

I think we all need to remember that, with the exception of the town manager, the police department and the South Bethany support staff, all our elected candidates are unpaid volunteers. The responsibilities are vast and varied. Sometimes the decisions that one has to make can be unpopular.

When the Town Council majority voted to appeal the FEMA flood insurance rate map changes, Pat voted her conscience against this, spending 15 months navigating the changes and an appeal that ultimately cost the Town a lot of wasted money.

Pat has a proven record that a new candidate doesn’t have. The fact that Pat still has a vision for South Bethany and wants to run for a third and final term as mayor speaks volumes about her tenacity and her desire to complete her goals and objectives for the betterment of the Town. For these reasons, Pat Voveris has my vote for mayor of South Bethany.

Liz Renninger
South Bethany

 

Residents back Saxton for mayoral seat

Editor:

Before voting in the South Bethany election, we needed to understand why five out of six council members support Tim Saxton as mayor over the incumbent, Pat Voveris. Pat is a long- standing personal friend. We have voted for her and worked with her in the past. This history made it extra-important to know what’s going on.

The consensus is that we need a mayor who will empower the town staff to manage the day-to-day operations of Town Hall. The five believe this management style will benefit South Bethany property owners through smoother operations, and raise employee morale. The five are very concerned that valued employees are at the brink of resigning.

The mayor of South Bethany was never supposed to be like the CEO of a business. Proof of this is that the Town does not allow anyone to be mayor and town manager simultaneously. The mayor’s job with regard to the staff is to work with the council to specify what is expected of people and provide operational/financial oversight. Our employees were well chosen. Now, they must be empowered to do their jobs.

Mayor Voveris truly deserves our thanks for years of great service to South Bethany. However, it’s time for the different approach Tim Saxton will bring to overall town management.

Bobbe & Kent Stephan
South Bethany

 

Stevenson endorses Saxton for mayor

Editor:

For the past three years, I have had the privilege to serve the citizens of South Bethany as a member of their Town Council. I take this opportunity to express my support for Tim Saxton in his campaign for the office of mayor.

In his five years on the Town Council, Tim Saxton has demonstrated the fiscal responsibility that our town needs as we look to the future. Tim believes that the Town needs a strategic vision for future expenditures, a vision that recognizes the importance of the fundamental strengths of our Town: our beaches, beach access, roadways and canals. He looks to a future where projects to maintain and improve our Town are fiscally responsible and achievable within budget constraints.

Only Tim Saxton has the leadership qualities and expertise to build a consensus on the Town Council to prioritize future projects and expenditures so that they can be successfully accomplished.

Tim Saxton recognizes that the job of mayor is not micro-management of the Town’s valuable staff. Rather, the mayor needs to set the vision, goals and objectives for future initiatives, and manage the staff to achieve positive results, stepping in only to provide guidance and expertise when needed.

For these reasons, I strongly support Tim Saxton for mayor of South Bethany. All you need to know about his candidacy is summarized by the fact that five of six current Town Council members support Tim Saxton for mayor.

Carol E. Stevenson
South Bethany

 

Voveris offers thanks for Carper’s help

Editor:

Before South Bethany’s first beach nourishment project in 2008, high tide brought waves right under the pilings of homes on Ocean Drive, and powerful storms threatened our entire town. However, since 2008, our ongoing partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers has been crucial in helping us protect both lives and property, and be better prepared for what future storms or sea-level rise may bring.

For years, Sen. Carper has been South Bethany’s most ardent advocate with the Army Corps, fighting to make sure renourishing our shoreline and rebuilding protecting dunes remains a priority. And when storms hit our shores, Sen. Carper is one of the first to call to see how our beach is holding up, and he is also one of the first to visit after a storm passes.

This past March, Sen. Carper even brought the new civilian leader of the Army Corps, Assistant Secretary R.D. James, to South Bethany to show him just how important a healthy beach is for our community’s safety and our economy’s vitality.

In June, the Army Corps will begin the third renourishment of our beach in 10 years. As the weather warms up and tens of thousands of families flock to our beaches, I hope Delawareans will join me in appreciating Sen. Carper’s efforts to keep our coastal communities open for business. I’m grateful to have Sen. Carper as a tireless advocate for our community, and I hope he can continue to fight for us for years to come.

Pat Voveris
South Bethany

 

CATS offers thanks to Giant Foods

Editor:

Cats Around Town Society (CATS) wishes to thank Giant Foods—Millville and our community for their support on our Spring Bake Sale on May 5, 2018. The Bake Sale is held twice a year to help homeless cats in our community. All monies collected is spent on spay/neutering costs of homeless “community cats” at the Brandywine Valley, Georgetown SPCA.

CATS’s mission is to reduce the overpopulation of homeless cats by trapping/neutering/vaccinating/releasing cats, which results in decrease of their population. 

Visit our Facebook page to learn more about us and find out how you can become a volunteer with our 501(c) charity organization.

If you are feeding community cats, thank you, but call us for help in spaying/neutering of your colony. How can you help hundreds of cats from becoming homeless? Spay or neuter one.

Nancy Ward, Secretary
Cats Around Town Society