Millsboro Town Council candidate Denise Blake is adamant about the importance of community involvement.
So, the 59-year-old Philadelphia native and mother of six is running against Councilman Larry Gum, representing the at-large district, in the 2020 Millsboro Town Council election.
“People are always complaining about stuff, but they don’t want to participate. I’m the type of person who can’t just sit around. All my life, I’ve been helping people, encouraging people, giving them food, giving them money and resources,” she said.
A new author, whose biography “I Made It and I’m Grateful” was recently published, Blake comes from a musical family. Her father sang with The Penguins, the popular 1950s and early ’60s group known for the hit song “Earth Angel”; managed The Stylistics; and met the late rock ’n’ roll star Little Richard.
A seven-year resident of Millsboro, she planned a Community Unity Day in Cupola Park three years ago.
“We had groups come from Baltimore and Philadelphia. The crowd was OK, but it was not big. I wound up not doing it the following year. My husband had open-heart surgery.
“Then I started going to Town Hall meetings. I would go and participate,” Blake continued, adding that she and Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson “got kind of close. I told him I wanted to get more involved,” she said.
When she noticed citizens in public not wearing protective masks, she was concerned enough to call Gov. John Carney’s office and ask how to best educate them. She has talked to business owners in Millsboro who said they would like to be able to vote in town elections but can’t because they aren’t residents.
“They have concerns. They don’t think its fair that they can’t vote. So I’m running on business, traffic in town and Cupola Park. I don’t think those big tractor-trailers should be coming through downtown. I have an idea about how traffic can have a steady flow. They put a light on Route 24 before Mountaire, but that light was a waste of money. I think they should have flashing traffic lights to keep traffic moving,” she said.
Her main concern, Blake said, is upkeep of Cupola Park.
“People go there to sing and entertain. They have a lot of stuff going on, and it’s a little park. Compared to some of the parks I’ve seen in Philadelphia, it’s a little park.
“I think the upkeep should be way better than what it is. There have been many complaints that people who walk their dogs do not pick up behind them. A lot of them do, but not all of them.
“Big branches fell from a tree, and that’s a safety hazard, if one of the branches hits a child,” she said.
Retired from work as a nursing assistant, Blake — the mother of three sons and three daughters she jokingly calls “The Brady Bunch,” and grandmother to 22 grandchildren — is married to Henri Blake, who works at Lowe’s.
Running with the election slogan “It’s your voice. It’s your choice,” Blake describes herself on her Facebook campaign page as “wearing my heart on my sleeve.”
“I am always on standby to give, no matter what the situation may be, if it’s for a good cause or good reason,” she wrote on that page.
Although she’ll be challenging Gum, she spoke highly of him.
“I come in peace. I just want to do my part in life,” she said.
Millsboro’s town council election will be on Saturday, June 13. Candidates needed to file by Wednesday, May 20, (after Coastal Point press time for this issue).
Council Members Michelle Truitt, Ron O’Neal and Gum — all three incumbents whose terms end this year — have all filed for reelection.
Other council members are Tim Hodges, District 1, and John Thoroughgood, District 2, whose terms expire in 2022; and James Kells, District 3, and Brad Cordrey, District 1, whose terms expire in 2021.
Council members serve three-year terms and receive a small payment of about $200 annually.
Hudson said Gov. John Carney’s office verified the town can have the election, and not rely on mail-in ballots, as long as staff and voters wear masks and keep a safe distance from each other. Only 10 or fewer people will be allowed in the polling place at a time.
In July, the town council will reorganize and choose a mayor, vice-mayor, secretary and treasurer. Truitt was named mayor last July. That position is selected by the council annually, but often mayors serve longer that one year, Hudson said.