Five candidates are vying for three positions on the Fenwick Island Town Council in this year’s election, which will be held Saturday, Aug. 6, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Fenwick Island Town Hall, 800 Coastal Highway.

The deadline for requesting absentee ballots for the town election is noon on Friday, Aug. 5.

The candidates this year are Richard Benn, Ed Bishop, Eric Espinosa, Kimberley Espinosa and William Rymer. Benn and Rymer are incumbents. Mayor Vicki Carmean is the third council member whose term expires this year; she did not file for re-election. Benn and Rymer are running to keep the seats they were appointed to after the resignation of two council members following last year’s election.

The Coastal Point recently posed four questions to the candidates, touching on current issues facing the town, its residents and its business community.


Richard Benn

Q. Is there anything you would like voters to know about what you would bring to the table as a town council member other than what you have provided in your campaign literature?

A. As a successful businessman, I have learned to quickly assimilate information and solve problems, to embrace the importance of other’s opinions and to try different techniques to get desired results. I recognize the importance of listening and working with a good team to achieve success.

Q. What do you feel are the two top issues the town council should be addressing in the next two years and why?

A. The top issues facing our community are environmental resiliency and infrastructure maintenance and improvement. Bayside flooding affects the quality of life for the majority of Fenwick Island residents. We are implementing short-term fixes as we work on long-term solutions. The dredging of the two boating channels will provide easier access and safer navigation for all water sports enthusiasts. This, however, does not lessen the importance of other issues this council is addressing.

Q. Do you feel the town council’s current focus on changes in the town code regarding the business sector is appropriate? Why or why not?

A. We finally have a town council focusing on all the important aspects of our beautiful community, including but not limited to businesses, residential life, environmental resiliency of our beach and bay, public safety, financial solvency and the visitor experience. We are doing this with the involvement of the entire community. Anyone that volunteered to be on a committee was given a seat on one. Our business is conducted in open meetings where everyone is welcome to express their opinion.

Q. What, if anything, do you feel the Town could do differently regarding infrastructure issues such as flood mitigation, dredging and development in the areas around Fenwick Island that are or soon will be impacting the town?

A. It is critical to maintain the progress and momentum of our current council’s work on infrastructure issues. We currently have a resiliency study under way that will give us the road map to address the long-term flood mitigation strategies. We are making great strides with the dredging project. It is important that we keep this team together so we can build on that momentum.


Ed Bishop

Q. Is there anything you would like voters to know about what you would bring to the table as a town council member other than what you have provided in your campaign literature?

A. I am a collaborative and solutions-oriented person. As a consultant in the retirement industry for 30 years, I learned to communicate complex issues in everyday language and bring parties together to find solutions and get the best results. I am also a second-generation Fenwick Islander and have retired here full-time. I understand what makes Fenwick so unique and what draws people to live here. These are the skills and experiences I would bring as a member of town council.

Q. What do you feel are the two top issues town council should be addressing in the next two years and why?

A. First, the town council must continue its work in addressing bayside flooding as it affects more than half of the town’s residents. We are on the right path now — all of the valves have been replaced and an engineering study has been commissioned after receiving a grant. We will need to move forward with implementing the recommendations that will follow the study.

Second, we need to continue to pursue pedestrian safety. This includes heightened traffic enforcement on the Coastal Highway and working with DelDOT to improve the pedestrian crosswalks, as well as other measures that protect our walkable and bicycle-friendly community.

Q. Do you feel the town council’s current focus on changes to the town code regarding the business sector is appropriate? Why or why not?

A. I support the town council’s efforts to increase the parking requirements for new commercial development. As a member of the Ad Hoc Parking Committee established by the town council in 2022, I worked with residents and members of the business community to develop a plan (Businesses Helping Businesses) to alleviate the parking burden at restaurants during the evening hours. However, this does not address future development.

The town council’s new parking ordinance was not perfect, but the democratic process is working. At the recent hearing, members of the business community voiced concerns over the new parking ordinance and town council agreed to send it back to committee to address these concerns. At the same time, the business community got to hear from the town’s residents who support the need for increased parking requirements for new businesses. I believe a compromise solution will be reached, which will benefit the town.

Q. What, if anything, do you feel the Town could do differently regarding infrastructure issues, such as flood mitigation, dredging and development in the areas around Fenwick Island that are or soon will be impacting the town?

A. While the Town has made significant strides in the areas of flood mitigation and dredging over the past 10 months, town council can now focus on improving communication and accountability with residents as only those who attend regular committee and council meetings fully appreciate those efforts.

If elected, I would work toward developing a system where residents are notified in advance when new work will be performed and try to develop methods to solicit real-time feedback from residents following storms and extreme tides to ensure the work performed is having the desired effect. I believe that creating a system of communication will provide the Town with a database of information needed when working with outside consultants to ensure we develop the best solution in each part of the town.


Eric Espinosa

Q. Is there anything you would like voters to know about what you would bring to the table as a town council member other than what you have provided in your campaign literature?

A. It’s really about what the community wants and needs, not what I want. I will represent what the residents and businesses want in a fair and balanced approach to governing. I will not be driving my own agenda as the current council is doing.

Q. What do you feel are the two top issues the town council should be addressing in the next two years and why?

A. Bayside flooding and dredging both affect our town long-term, and we need to get ahead of these issues.

Q. Do you feel the town council’s current focus on changes in the town code regarding the business sector is appropriate? Why or why not?

A. The current town council likes to tout that we are a residential community first and foremost, but we are both a residential community and a town with commercial enterprise. Those commercial enterprises create visitors to our town and revenue to our tax base.

The residential businesses (rentals, VRBO, AirBNB) drive a lot of the visitors that then visit our stores and restaurants. Significant changes to the commercial district will signal that we aren’t commercially friendly, which will drive out the current businesses and stunt new commercial growth, which can and will affect our housing prices and economy.

If we lose commercial revenue, it has the potential to directly impact our current residential tax rate, which would then have to be increased to make up for the shortfall from the erosion of the commercial tax base. No one will want to buy homes in a town with an empty and run-down commercial district.

The current old DQ site is an amazing location for a new business to our community, and the Town should be communicating vigorously with the owner to find solutions, rather than participating and condoning reprisals and retributions against our commercial district.

Q. What, if anything, do you feel the Town could do differently regarding infrastructure issues such as flood mitigation, dredging and development in the areas around Fenwick Island that are or soon will be impacting the town?

A. We need to see what comes out of the infrastructure study, but we should also be looking at a larger study of the effects of the surrounding areas. The Town needs a lobbyist to position Fenwick to obtain not only state funding but also working on the issues at the state level that affect our town. Rather than spending money on litigation, the funds would be better spent focusing on items that enhance our community, like hiring a lobbyist or more police officers to generate additional revenue so we don’t continue to subsidize the Town’s expenses.


Kimberley Espinosa

Q. Is there anything you would like voters to know about what you would bring to the table as a town council member other than what you have provided in your campaign literature?

A. I’d like to state my position on a couple items that my opponents are using to undermine my candidacy. I’m not in favor of outside bars or any additional hotels. I will work for the residents and what they want. My opinion is secondary to what the residents think we should do. I would represent them, not what I want.

Q. What do you feel are the two top issues the town council should be addressing in the next two years and why?

A. I feel the most important issues in Fenwick Island right now are dredging, flooding and a master plan that takes into account growth in positive way, not in a way that limits personal rights with ordinances.

Q. Do you feel the town council’s current focus on changes in the town code regarding the business sector is appropriate? Why or why not?

A. The current council appears to govern via win/lose versus a win/win framework for everyone to thrive. We can look at positive ways to work with our commercial entities so we find compromise, or we can target them with ordinances and dilute the value of generations of ownership.

I don’t see the town council doing outreach to the commercial owners to build bridges and create compromise for the benefit of the entire town. I will do that with monthly breakfast meetings with the commercial enterprises and I will build a business forum so that everyone can be heard.

Yes, we have a significant amount of homes here, but we can’t disregard our commercial district which is in the middle of our town. It needs to thrive as well, or a run-down commercial section will dilute our property values and our tax base.

Let’s create a vision and master plan for the next 20 years of what we want our town to be and then work with the commercial entities to develop and make that vision come to life. I can make that happen! I’m action-oriented and goal-driven.

Q. What, if anything, do you feel the Town could do differently regarding infrastructure issues such as flood mitigation, dredging and development in the areas around Fenwick Island that are or soon will be impacting the town?

A. We need to hire a lobbyist that is talking to the State of Delaware daily about what the growth impacts will have on our town. We need to lobby for what Fenwick island needs! The squeaky wheel gets the grease!


William Rymer

Q. Is there anything you would like voters to know about what you would bring to the table as a town council member other than what you have provided in your campaign literature?

A. By serving in multiple church leadership positions, I strengthened my experience in bringing together folks with different backgrounds and at different stages in their lives. After retiring from my finance career, I served as the head coach of a women’s college-softball program. These experiences support a team-first approach to solving problems and collectively achieving goals.

Q. What do you feel are the two top issues the town council should be addressing in the next two years and why?

A. The top issues for our town are already high priorities for the current council: the impact of flooding due to storm events and sea-level rise, and improving the safety and navigability of our boating channels. Both the Infrastructure and Dredging committees have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time on these issues. I look forward to continuing our efforts in these areas.

Q. Do you feel the town council’s current focus on changes in the town code regarding the business sector is appropriate? Why or why not?

A. The current town council has done an excellent job of addressing the significant issues facing our town.

The ordinances passed by this council have focused on:

• Promoting pedestrian and bicycle safety;

• Preserving Fenwick charm; and

• Emphasizing balance between the residential and commercial districts.

We also removed the previous limitations related to public input during town council meetings, which has encouraged an open dialogue amongst all property owners.

Q. What, if anything, do you feel the Town could do differently regarding infrastructure issues such as flood mitigation, dredging and development in the areas around Fenwick Island that are or soon will be impacting the town?

A. Fenwick Island is making significant progress in these important areas. Over the last 10 months, the Infrastructure Committee has taken steps to address flooding and developed a 10-year street maintenance plan. The Dredging Committee has achieved several goals related to the extensive permitting process and recently received a $350,000 award in support of the project.

This council also approved the construction of new sidewalks and passed an important ordinance which, when combined, promote pedestrian and bicyclist safety on both Coastal Highway and Bunting Avenue. This town council has been willing to tackle difficult topics to help offset the anticipated problems coming from future development in Sussex County.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.