Ocean View Mayor Gary Meredith was sworn in for a second term at the April 12 special meeting, following a strong showing at the polls over the weekend.
Meredith defeated challenger Wally Brown by a nearly 2-1 margin, with a final tally of 166-84.
“I’m disappointed, but alive and well,” Brown stated. He offered Meredith his congratulations, noting a good turnout on April 9.
Meredith returned the favor. “The local towns always seem to have trouble filling spots on council, and Ocean View is no exception,” he said. “I’m pleased we were actually able to have an election.”
According to Meredith, no one had run in the last couple elections (everyone returned unopposed).
“I’m a little concerned, because there’s a two term limit (for the mayoral position), so somebody had better be thinking about that for the next three years,” he said.
Brown continued to debate the constitutionality of the town’s voting laws, questioning the practice of “disenfranchising” property owners who don’t live in town. He said a number of his supporters had fallen into that category, and perhaps the election would have been closer if they could have voted.
As long as property owners are paying taxes in the town, they should be afforded some representation, Brown stated.
Meredith said Brown was correct in that some of the coastal towns did allow non-resident property owners to vote. “The beach towns are kind of unique, though,” Meredith pointed out.
For instance, in Bethany Beach, anyone listed on a deed (assuming they’re U.S. citizens, 18 years of age, etc.) can vote in town elections — and they can also vote in their towns of permanent residence, according to Town Manager Cliff Graviet.
Eight brothers can collectively own a cottage in Bethany but live in Seattle, and cast eight votes. Or, two sisters can collectively own a beachfront mansion (in Bethany) but live outside town limits in North Bethany, and cast two votes.
According to Graviet, both groups deserved equal voices in town governance, and there’d never been any problem. “We’re a community with a lot of non-residents,” he pointed out. With 2,500 taxable properties and 1,000 permanent residents, Graviet said the town received 650 ballots in an average election.
Ocean View has a similar permanent population — just over 1,000, according to 2003 U.S. Census estimates.
Of the 426 voters registered with the town, 250 cast ballots on April 9.
Meredith said he didn’t consider the voters disinterested — just satisfied. “Other than a few complaints, I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” he said.
Police Chief Ken McLaughlin conducted the swearing-in ceremony, prompting Meredith, returning Council Member Norm Amendt and Council Member Eric Magill (reappointed Mayor Pro Tem) through the oath of office.
Council members also voted to appoint Garland Saville to the town’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission (Jeanne Mueller is stepping down at the end of her term).
In non-political business, they considered a response to a phone call from Office of State Planning Coordination’s (OSPC’s) Anne Marie Townshend.
Townshend is reviewing the Home Depot application on Route 17, and asked if council wanted to contribute comments regarding traffic concerns and road improvements.
While the proposed Home Depot site is in Millville, it is nearby the Burbage Road-Windmill Road corridor into Ocean View.
Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) planners have scheduled improvements there, ahead of the Mainline SR 26 project — the local roads become a bypass once work begins on Route 26.