Mayor retiring from public service

By Lynn R. Parks

After more than two decades in Seaford city government, Mayor Ed Butler is retiring. He announced last Tuesday night at the city council meeting that he will not seek a third term as mayor.

I thank everyone for 25 good years serving the city of Seaford, Butler said at the start of the meeting. It is hard to believe that Ive been part of the city for that long. Ive been very lucky to be able to serve with some very good people. For that, I give the good Lord all the honor.

In a written statement, Butler thanked his wife, Shirley, and children Douglas, Penny, Kelly and Sandy for their support during his time on the city council and as mayor. He also thanked his brother, Charles, a former city councilman. He has always been a big help, Butler said. City manager Dolores Slatcher complimented Butler on his dedication to the city. His strength comes from the heart, in that he cares about this city a great deal, she said. He is proud of being a life-long resident and small businessman in Seaford.

He will be missed, she added. But now he will have time to devote to his family and to golf, which he really loves. Former mayor and current state Rep. Dan Short also had words of praise for Butler. He has set an example of community service that has lasted for 25 years and he has instilled that same commitment in his family, Short said in an e-mail. Butlers son, Doug, is active in the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department and in the county and state fire chiefs associations.

We are so fortunate to have such a passionate and kind leader, Short added. I think that the biggest strength Ed has is that he is always out and about and visible in the community. Everyone knows who Ed Butler is, no question.

Butler was first elected as a city councilman in 1986. In an interview last week, he said that he has seen tremendous changes in Seaford in those 25 years.

Back then, we had a strong DuPont Co., a small hospital and a strong Nylon Capital Shopping Center, he said. Now, Invista, the former DuPont Co. nylon plant, employs only 100 people and the shopping center is largely vacant. The hospital, on the other hand, has expanded.

Nobody has seen as much accomplished in 25 years as Seaford, Butler said. He attributed that success to the leadership of the citys mayors, including Guy Longo and Dan Short, both of whom served when Butler was on the council, a strong city council, a strong city manager and hard-working city employees.

When Butler first took his seat as city councilman, there was no Wal-Mart in town. Neither the Seaford Village Shopping Center nor the Food Lion Shopping Center had been built, there were just a few businesses along U.S. 13 and the Ross Business Park had not been developed yet. There was no Shipley State Service Center, Gateway Park, Jays Nest or city sports complex. The citys government was located in a wing of the Seaford Fire Hall.

Since then, housing developments, including Virginia Crest, Woodland Mills, Williamsburg Manor, Yorktowne Woods, Charleston Place, Governors Grant, the Iron Range and Mearfield, have been built. The Methodist Manor House has put up cottages for independent living.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has expanded its emergency department and constructed the Cancer Care Center, LifeCare at Lofland Park nursing home (which it is in the process of selling) and its Mears Campus.

The Professional Leasing Complex on the west edge of town has been built. The city has a Boys and Girls Club and a public boat ramp, as well as a new post office on Bridgeville Highway. The old post office is now the Seaford Museum.

Theres a new city hall in downtown and a new library on the north edge of town. The fire hall, including the wing where the city government used to be located, has been completely renovated.

Butler said that the most important accomplishment the city has seen in his 25 years is its purchase of the former Seaford Golf and Country Club. The former clubhouse was subsequently sold to the Nanticoke Senior Center, which renovated it for its new home. The country clubs golf course, swimming pool and tennis courts are still owned by the city. All of them are open to the public.

Who would have thought, 25 years ago, that all of that would be available to all people in our city? Butler said.

The saddest times hes had as councilman and mayor have been the deaths of three young Seaford men in the war in Iraq and when then Councilman Larry Miller died April 11, 2006, after suffering a heart attack in city hall. Larry was a leader of the council, Butler said. Everybody looked up to him.

Butler said that he is often praised for how smoothly city council meetings go. People always ask me, How do we get along so well? he said.

Its not because members of the council always agree, he said. Its because weve learned to work out our differences, he added. We try to solve our problems before they get to the table.

In their 25 years working together, we have differed at times, Slatcher said. But we have always resolved [our differences] and been able to work closely together on the interests of the city.

Butler encouraged members of the council to continue to keep well-informed about whats going on in city hall. A good council has to stay involved, he said.

And he said that he hopes that the city as a whole continues to show strong support for its churches. So many people tell me that they are praying for me and for the city council, he said. I believe that if we ever lose that connection to the church, we will lose what we have gained in our city. Its our churches that make us strong.

His deep faith in God was a driving principle as he led our city, Slatcher said. Butler said that he feels that it is important for people to understand that its mayors, councilmen and city employees care about Seaford.

They have been very honest and caring about the city, he said. I truly will miss them. And now, I can say that they will continue to be in my prayers.

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