S. Bethany candidates address the voters before election


South Bethany voters will get to choose their leadership in the town council and mayoral elections set for Saturday, May 26. Polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as the people choose their mayor and fill three council seats.

All six collective candidates for the posts are current or recent council members.

Mayoral candidates include two-term incumbent Patricia “Pat” Voveris, who also previously served on the council, and challenger Tim Saxton, who is halfway through a regular two-year term on the council, having previously served in 2009-2011 and 2014-2016.

Meanwhile, four candidates have applied for three regular town council seats, including incumbents Don Boteler, Sue Callaway and William “Tim” Shaw, and former councilman Wayne Schrader.

If Saxton wins the mayor position, the council would appoint someone else to finish the second year of his current term. If he loses, he would continue in his current seat.

The two-year council terms begin on June 2.

Eligible voters must be U.S. citizens and be either: a town resident for at least nine months (consecutively or nonconsecutively) of the preceding year; a freeholder who holds property through a deed or trust at least 90 consecutive days before the election; or the spouse of a freeholder, whether their name is on the deed or not.

Absentee voting will be permitted. The deadline for filing an affidavit for absentee balloting at Town Hall is Friday at noon, and the ballot must be returned by Saturday at 3 p.m.

For more information, email townclerk@southbethany.org, call (302) 539-3653 or visit South Bethany Town Hall at 402 Evergreen Road.

Editor’s note: Per our longstanding policy, in order to give candidates the last word before the election, the Coastal Point is not publishing letters-to-the-editor regarding the South Bethany elections in this issue. Following are the question-and-answer series the candidates agreed to take part in, featuring mayoral candidates first, in alphabetical order:

Mayoral candidates

Tim Saxton

Q. What impact do you hope to make as mayor/as a returning town council member?

A. It is my intention to assure the development of a long-term capital plan for capital projects the Town would like to complete. This should be accomplished so that the town may complete the projects and has appropriate funding prior to the start any project.

As we move forward, we are faced with multiple large projects, such as beach access improvement, canal water quality improvement, road re-surfacing, mitigation of street flooding, etc. I would request that the council work to develop a long-range capital plan with the objective of developing a complete list of capital projects, assigning prioritization of listed items and defining a proposal on funding each project.

To begin funding each project, the unassigned reserves and any monies available in the capital reserves may be utilized. Each project initial funding should be based on nearness and prioritization of the project. Finally, the plan should be presented to the public for their input and prioritization. This will assist us to focus, fund and execute projects more reasonably and effectively.

Q. What is the next big challenge South Bethany faces, and how will you address it?

A. In speaking with constituents during the campaign, the No. 1 issue that has come up is canal water quality. I have stated that this is both a short- and long-term challenge and agree with our property owners it is the largest issue.

Short-term phase — I support the current testing of canal water and soil testing to determine the need and locations for dredging or other options. This will assist in determining the funding needed for the next steps required to improve the canal water.

Long-term phase — Once the Town has the analysis completed of the current testing hopefully it will provide the best direction to go in for improving the canal water.

It is possible that the funding requirement may be quite a large expense and the Town may need to look at a variety of funding options. These would include grant opportunities, issuing a bond and other loan mechanisms, or utilizing unassigned reserves. Most likely it will be a combination of sourcing options to reach the best funding for the Town.

Q. How do you hope to contribute to the well-being of South Bethany?

A. I believe we need to re-focus on keeping South Bethany the quaint small town that it is. Our goals should be to improve our current infrastructure, such as improving beach access and canal water quality. Improvement of our current infrastructure should be accomplished through a strong and feasible capital improvement plan. The goal should always be that any improvement will bring increased property values for all. We all bought property here because we liked the quiet and small-town feel. I would like to keep us moving in that direction.

Q. What else should voters know about you before election day?

A. I have served five years on town council and developed a keen interest in the Town’s fiscal management practices. For two terms, 2009-2011 and 2014-2016, I served as the town council treasurer. In this role and working with town council, I established the Budget & Finance Committee, developed multiple financial policies and delivered fiscal-year balanced budgets. I have shown fiscal responsibility with a desire to save the taxpayer dollar.

I am a fiscal conservative and have consistently brought my skills to the town in difficult times, during the downturn in 2009, and in good times. As mayor, I would provide a strong focus on fiscal responsibility, enhancements and activities that continually improve the property values and quality of life in South Bethany. Other actions I would take include:

• Continue to listen to the homeowners to better understand their preferences and desires; it is your town.

• Re-visit the set time of our town council meetings to ensure we provide greater attendance opportunity for our part-time residents.

• Define our workshops as an opportunity for the town council to have open dialogue and work on issues.

• Work to create efficiencies in all Town departments to maintain low taxes by constraining costs and look for ways to increase revenue.

• Work to restore full funding of reserves to fund future projects. This funding has been missed the last two years.

After five years being on town council, I have developed a good understanding of South Bethany town government. I will continue to use my fiscal and practical common-sense skills to make decisions for the Town. I feel prepared to become mayor and will be naming Sue Callaway as Mayor Pro Tem. We will be ready to begin on Day 1.

 

Pat Voveris

Q. What impact do you hope to make as mayor/as a returning town council member?

A. Strength in leadership. Experience, coupled with knowledge and strong relationships created with neighboring mayors, DNREC, CIB and our legislators, afford me the ability to hit the ground running. No learning curve.

Being able to pick up the phone and get a quick response from a needed government agency — that’s an asset I have worked successfully to develop; and it’s an asset our Town now can rely on with collective energy to meet our big challenges.

I have confidence in my abilities and our owners should have confidence in me. My last four years as mayor are a testament to my work ethic, problem-solving ability, collaborative nature, and love of Town. It is because of the strong ties that I have developed that South Bethany now has a voice and access in an area-wide conversation; that means we can call on our neighbors for advice and help.

The strength of our Town lies in its leadership and support. I am proud that during my terms as Mayor, I have led the charge to hire our police chief and our town manager, two key vital Town positions, effectively strengthening our Town management, operations and safety. Our quiet little Town is punching above its weight because of strong leadership. We need that clout to help us make progress on the big issues confronting us. I can help lead that conversation.

Q. What is the next big challenge South Bethany faces, and how will you address it?

A. Multi-faceted interests of owners and a limited supply of funding to pursue these. Right now, we have road maintenance and canal water quality on the table, and we are looking at a million or millions of dollars to qualitatively improve an important Town resource.

Add to that Town property owners’ desire to have improved beach access, which will require DNREC approval. My opponent has spoken to funding reserves, which has not been done in two years. Where does this money come from, a huge cut in services to our owners? Do we just keep saving and stay stagnant?

We cannot do it all. We need to plan, prioritize and stay the course until we accomplish. We cannot flip-flop or plan based on agenda interests of a given Council. We need our message in stone.

I am a pragmatist, working to help solve our big issues, but working within the confines of our budget and our means. This is one reason why I have labored over the past four years to develop relationships outside our Town, relationships that we can build on to help us navigate the big challenges. Not only can’t we do it all, we also can’t do it alone.

Q. How do you hope to contribute to the well-being of South Bethany?

A. As I have for my seven years of council service and four years as mayor. I will study, research, listen, deliberate to arrive at the most informed decisions in the best interest of our Town.

I have always exhibited diligence and determination — assets that mean I leave no stone unturned to ensure every issue is properly vetted for pros and cons. If that means voting against the tide, so be it. This notion being touted that Council is divided is misleading; if you examine the voting patterns of Council, it is clear that unanimity is the norm.

The mayor does not unilaterally make decisions; that $100,000 in legal fees that we spent last year, that was a unanimously Council-approved decision. The mayor is the guide; I will continue that role.

Strength in leadership comes from rising against the tide and strength of convictions. It isn’t about friend politics or alliances built from social contacts. It’s about sound decision-making and strong leadership. It’s about honesty and Town betterment.

It’s not about hollow promises and empty platitudes that sound right but are missing substance and, more importantly, missing real implementation potential. It’s easy to have a wish list; it’s a lot harder to pay for it. Know-how, leadership, and sincere, honest and realistic governing, that’s what I can give.

Q. What else should voters know about you before Election Day?

A. This is not a job for everyone. I have approached my job as mayor with much energy and verve, and I have successfully navigated our Town through difficult times. Looking ahead, we have a new town manager who I was proud to lead the charge to recruit and hire, and now see in full oversight of Town operations; a home-grown police chief who I also led the charge to hire, have been proud to work with these past three years and proud to have arrived together at a financially suitable solution to a much-needed improved PD building that we can look forward to seeing.

We have an ambulance service agreement that needs renegotiation. My four years of sponsor oversight have given me knowledge and ability to bring to the negotiation table. I will continue to work collectively with neighboring mayors from Lewes to Fenwick Island who value my participation in ACT (Association of Coastal Towns), where we work together on our coastal issues.

My work has placed South Bethany on the map, and we should continue this forward movement to remain “The Best Little Beach in Delaware.” As your next mayor, you can count on me to be committed to that goal and work with a focus and determination unrivaled by anyone.

I would like to set the record straight for voters on three topics that have grabbed attention:

(1) Town council meeting time: This was changed to afternoon to conduct council business when town hall is open for business, to lessen the length of the work day for employees who previously had to work to 9 p.m., and to conduct our deliberations with a fresher mind in daytime vs. evenings.

(2) Legal fees: Council collectively voted by majority or unanimously on actions that resulted in our huge legal expense this past year; the entire Council shoulders the burden of the expense. The mayor has only one vote.

(3) Legal expenses explained: $17,674 to respond to the police department demand letter; $36,030 to bring forward the attorneys’ advice on the CPSM review of our department operations, policies and expenses; and $55,730 to cover the cost of day-to-day business for code, zoning, contracts, bid/purchasing.

Voters, we are very lucky this election year in South Bethany. We have a choice. We are blessed with more candidates to elect than spots in government. I am proud that our Town has this level of engagement. But with that choice, there are some stark differences that distinguish the candidates.

You can choose me, your mayor who has served four years as mayor, seven years on town council, a mayor whose commitment is such that I’ve never missed a meeting, that I gladly put in more than 40 hours a week to make sure the job we need done happens. You can choose a mayor who has successfully navigated differences of opinion and disparate views with reason, thought, input, research and careful consideration to lead to consensus.

You can choose a mayor who has built alliances and friends beyond our town limits, alliances that mean we have not just good neighbors but good relations that enable us to be part of a larger coastal community that shares the same environmental, social and demographic challenges. You can choose a mayor who has worked hard to make that happen, to make South Bethany better.

You can choose a mayor who has helped build a strong Town support network, with an excellent police chief, a skilled town manager and professional town clerk and a working staff that efficiently gets things done for us.

You can choose candidates who say they are for planning, for fiscal responsibility and transparency or you choose to someone who already has planned, been fiscally responsible and transparent. You can choose me.

My experience matters. My record of accomplishments reflects my ability to get things done, to go the distance, to make a difference. You can choose action and experience. You can choose me to continue to be your mayor, to make sure my know-how and diligence continue to guide us as we look to the big issues that we face.

With these strong alliances, we can marshal our collective power and leverage our relationships across towns, county and state to help us identify the resources that will ensure we can meet those challenges. When you choose, l hope you will choose me as mayor so that I can continue to serve you.

 

Town council candidates

 

Don Boteler

Q. What impact do you hope to make as a returning town council member?

A. My focus will be to promote the principle of financial responsibility in all of our deliberations and decision-making. To that end, I would work to ensure that we consider all direct, indirect, current and longer-term costs in connection with any decision with a material financial dimension.

In addition, I would work with the town’s finance director, town manager, Budget & Finance Committee and council to reassess our reserves and reserves policy with a view toward: (1) strengthening the town’s ability to deal with unexpected adverse events or developments, (2) assigning reserves to the top several long-term objectives outlined in the town’s Comprehensive Plan, (3) driving consensus on reasonable alternatives and respective costs for meeting those objectives, and (4) developing funding plans that rely on building reserves organically through operating surpluses and aggressively pursuing external sources, including grants and other potential forms of assistance.

Q. What is the next big challenge South Bethany faces, and how will you address it?

A. In my estimation, our next big challenge is to identify our next big challenge before it announces itself to us. What I mean is we should do everything possible to anticipate and prepare for unexpected bad things (recognizing that some things simply arrive uninvited from the unknown).

We also need to put together well-organized efforts to prioritize and price our known long-term challenges. Four that come easily to mind are improved canal water quality, improved beach access, street maintenance and remediation of nuisance flooding. I believe it will be essential to elicit as much thoughtful community input as possible in this process.

Q. How do you hope to contribute to the well-being of South Bethany?

A. I would carefully study all of the issues before us, consider every relevant factor, arrive at meetings prepared to participate fully and constructively in the discussions and debates, listen respectfully and carefully to fellow property owners, council colleagues and Town staff, and make fully informed and responsible voting decisions.

Q. What else should voters know about you before Election Day?

A. Ann and I are second-generation South Bethany owners, with children and grandchildren who we hope will continue our family’s South Bethany traditions well into the future. Having made life here a full-time commitment since 2013, it has been a singular pleasure to meet and become friends with so many wonderful and interesting fellow owners.

And it has been an honor to work with neighbors to protect and preserve the special character and charms of South Bethany and pursue continuous improvements, both small and large, to an even better quality of life here for ourselves and our families.

 

Sue Callaway

Q. What impact do you hope to make as a returning town council member?

A. I hope to continue to make the same impact that I have made as a town council member since 2010, when I won my first contested election. I have enthusiastically and energetically addressed a multitude of issues and challenges and have worked hard to change the landscape in South Bethany – literally and figuratively.

With the help of many volunteers, we have enhanced an already beautiful coastal town and made it an even better town to live in, buy in or rent in! By keeping our eye on the prize — making South Bethany even better — our list of accomplishments is robust, and I am proud of each one.

Over the years I have worked with three different mayors, served as mayor pro tem for four years with two mayors and served with a variety of council members. I have met the challenges of addressing numerous issues and chaired the Community Enhancement Committee for eight years. I have enjoyed every minute of it and continue to do so — which is why I am running!

Q. What is the next big challenge South Bethany faces, and how will you address it?

A. I have always believed that our beaches and our unique 5-mile network of canals are our Town’s greatest assets. It is even more apparent by the results of recent town and SBPOA surveys and the many conversations held with property owners during this campaign that we need to stay focused on those two major assets. They are what separates South Bethany from other Delaware coastal towns.

Forthcoming canal water quality research projects will help us determine our specific future course of canal water quality action. But in the interim, we also need to simultaneously plan and implement well-thought-out grassroots actions, such as the installation of floating wetlands and oyster gardening.

We must weigh the merits of new ideas and thoroughly evaluate their return on investment before proceeding. With structured planning, we can better prepare the town to fund future major initiatives.

The beaches require continuous interaction with DNREC and our state and federal legislators to make sure that our beaches and beach access ways are a priority for federal and state funding resources and action. The case for the huge impact that Delaware’s tourism — specifically within the coastal areas — has on Delaware’s revenue stream makes the case well to preserve and protect our beaches and canals.

Q. How do you hope to contribute to the well-being of South Bethany?

A. As a property owner recently told me, “South Bethany is my happy place!” Another owner said, “When I cross that Bay Bridge, I just have this great feeling and all my worries or concerns are left behind.” I will work to make sure that their “happy place” and “home away from home” continues to evoke that same feeling.

I know exactly what they mean, as we also were originally weekenders and seasonal homeowners, escaping to South Bethany whenever we could. We are fortunate enough to be full-time residents now, but I still have that warm feeling of being in a very special place.

What contributes to that kind of aura? It’s making sure we maintain a vibrant and desirable community. We know it’s the beaches and canals absolutely — but it is also the many enhancements made over the years that have uplifted our town.

I have the ability to work with all people and to draw people together with our common goal of making South Bethany even better! Our list of achievements is long and robust, and I am very proud of each of our accomplishments! Engaging volunteers, whether they are full-time or part-time owners, connects them to this town and pulls neighbors together, creating a sense of community pride.

I am task-oriented and the kind of person who can make an idea happen, as long as it is fiscally and sensibly grounded. All of these actions contribute to increased individual property worth, community value and quality of life. And that certainly contributes to the well-being of our “happy place,” South Bethany!

Q. What else should voters know about you before Election Day?

A. I will continue to exhibit leadership on the council, as I firmly believe that it is not only the mayor whose position requires strong leadership skills. All council members must step forward and demonstrate leadership and take a stand even when the tide is against us.

We need that kind of balance and openness. We have had to deal with some tough police issues and exceptionally high, and unnecessary, legal expenses this year ($109,000), and I plan to work to help “right the ship.” In the future, differences need to be put aside and disagreements need to be resolved before they reach their breaking points.

We have talented and dedicated administrative and police employees. We need to provide leadership that promotes sound and confident administrative government operations and a strong police department. I look forward to working to maintain and promote a quality of life that everyone enjoys and values.

 

Wayne Schrader

Candidate Wayne Schrader was unable to participate in the Coastal Point questionnaire.

 

Tim Shaw

Candidate Tim Shaw was unable to participate in the Coastal Point questionnaire, adding that “I love the town but am on a vacation with my wife of 40 years.” In lieu of a Q&A response from Shaw, Voveris provided the Coastal Point with a statement from Shaw that was sent to the South Bethany Property Owners Association:

“I apologize for not being here to make a statement in person, but at this exact moment my wife and I are on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean celebrating 41 years together, and I can assure you that I am not even slightly thinking about the town or the election. But, I would like to return to the council for a second term because there is a lot of important work to be done and I am committed to pushing forward on our major issues.

“The challenges for the town fall into two broad categories: first — keeping the town attractive for visitors and potential owners; and second — ensuring the future long-term viability of the town.

“Issues such as canal water quality, beach crossovers and road maintenance fall into that first category. Most of these kinds of issues the town can address on our own if we plan and budget carefully and execute effectively. Dune and beach replenishment and mitigating the impacts of bay-side and coastal flooding fall into the second category. Most of these issues are too big for us to take on by ourselves and will require county, state and even federal help.

“This past year, I went from being an occasional visitor, particularly when council meetings and workshops were scheduled, to residing here full-time. My wife and I sold our other residence, and this is now our only home. And so I have selfish reasons for wanting to work for the betterment and viability of the town. I also believe in civic duty and giving something back.

“So, although you have several capable and experienced people from which to choose to populate the town council, I would be honored if you would allow me to return and continue working for the town.”

Point Staff