Candidates speak out on issues

By Lynn R. Parks

Residents of Seaford will go to the polls next week, to decide the makeup of the city council for the next three years.

Four candidates are running for two seats. Incumbent Pat Jones, who was first elected to her seat in 2002, is being challenged by Doug Lambert, making his sixth run for council, and by newcomers Dan Henderson and William Mulvaney.

Voting will take place Saturday, April 19, at city hall. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Following are profiles of the candidates.

Jones, 46, is a native of Seaford. She graduated from Seaford High School in 1985 and entered the work force. In 1996, she went to work for the Seaford Federal Credit Union, where she still works today. She and her husband, Gregory, were married in 1989. She is a member of the Delaware Commission for Women, a Girl Scout leader and organizer of the Eastern Short AFRAM Festival as well as the MLK Day of Celebration.

Q. What do you believe the city can do to help downtown become more vibrant?

A. The goal should be to attract small private investment businesses which are determined to promote a healthy and vibrant downtown.

Q. What do you foresee as the future of the old power plant?

A. The power plant will be a local incentive for a strong industry looking for a great connection with the city, including a great amenity, the Nanticoke River.

Q. Do you think that the city should pursue now-shelved plans to put a solar park near its utility building?

A. I am in favor of solar parks. They are a simple and proven technology providing a source of safe, locally produced, renewable energy for up to 25 years after construction. This leads to an income for a long time, once initial cost is recovered. Solar power is the ultimate form of renewable energy.

Q. What do you think of the idea of using the golf course as a spray site for treated wastewater?

A. Why not? Golf course maintenance has to follow effective irrigation practices to produce and maintain healthy, dense turf grass. [Using treated wastewater] will produce effective irrigation, which will conserve money and water.

Q. Do you have any ideas as to what the city can do to get the Nylon Capitol Shopping Center up and running again?

A. I would love to see a meeting of the minds  city officials, contractors, Realtors, code inspectors, business owners and local citizens  to come together and spin off ideas, to revitalize the abandoned area.

Q. What do you like best about living in Seaford?

A. I like the diverse opportunity to serve in the city and make a positive change.

Q. What would you change if you could?

A. I would change Seaford back into the Nylon Capital of the World.

Mulvaney, 65, graduated from Seaford High School in 1966. He attended Northeastern University, Boston, for two years, studying pharmacology, then served in the Army for three years. He returned to Seaford in 1971 and worked for a while as a paralegal in Georgetown before being appointed Justice of the Peace in 1983. He served in Court 4 in Seaford until September, when he retired. Mulvaney and his wife, Darlene, have one adult son, Ryan.

Q. Why do you want to serve on city council?

A. I am just interested in the city. This has always been something that I wanted to do. Seaford is in its post-DuPont era and I want to be part of any kind of planning the city does now. And I would hate to throw 30-plus years of public service down the drain.

Q. What do you believe the city can do to help downtown become more vibrant?

A. I want to be a part of the process of helping downtown. It takes one big pull to start the little stuff. Maybe that big pull will be the old power plant, where some people are interested in starting a commercial enterprise. Or maybe it will be the new apartment complex that is supposed to be built there. If we get the start of one first-class operation in downtown, that will attract other things. Some buildings in downtown look like they are on the verge of collapse, but I still feel that downtown has potential.

Q. Do you have any ideas as to what the city can do to get the Nylon Capitol Shopping Center up and running again?

A. That old shopping center is really an eyesore. I know that they city is trying really hard to do something about it. Unfortunately, property owners with deep pockets can play that game for a long time, and not really do anything constructive.

Q. Do you think that the city should pursue now-shelved plans to put a solar park near its utility building?

A. Why not? Anything the city can do to generate their own power and to lower electricity costs for its residents, they should do.

Q. What do you think of the idea of using the golf course as a spray site for treated wastewater?

A. I think its an excellent idea. Its a way to save money. Drought can be the death of a golf course and having our own home-grown irrigation system would be good. I have no problems with that at all.

Q. What do you like best about living in Seaford?

A. The fact that we have city services that other people dont have. We have our public works department, with its regular yard waste pickup, and an excellent police force that responds almost immediately to a call. People who live in the county sometimes have to wait a half-hour for a trooper. Our city departments are top-notch.

Q. What would you change if you could?

A. Our school system. Houses throughout the school district remain unsold because families dont want to live in the Seaford School District. The city has to be active along with the school district in building its reputation back up. There are some things the city can assist with. Theres not a reason in the world that the Seaford School District cant improve.

Henderson, 51, is the founder and owner of Henderson Mechanical Inc., a heating and air conditioning company. A native of Seaford, he graduated from Seaford High School in 1980.

He and his wife, Karen, have one daughter, Hannah, who is 14.

Q. Why do you want to serve on city council?

A. I think I bring the perspective of someone involved in the day to day operations of a business that lies within the city limits. Most of the customers we serve live in Seaford and nearby communities, and over three-fourths of our employees live in town or the 19973 zip code. After 17-plus years of serving customers in this area, many of them neighbors, I think I have my finger on the pulse of what they like about city government and what frustrates them.

Q. What do you believe the city can do to help downtown become more vibrant?

A. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars have been invested in downtown over the last 20 years with only moderate success. City government is involved in the Seaford Enhancement Team and has worked with the Downtown Seaford Association in the past. It is sure that city officials engage in lower profile activities that promote our area. That should continue; however, I believe the city could do more publicly to help fledgling businesses anchor themselves in downtown. There are Pop-up grants or low interest loans available for businesses to locate in the downtown zone, but some of these opportunities have been under-utilized. Even so I am encouraged that the downtown area is on its way back. That is why we relocated our business to New Street in downtown. Revitalization is already happening, and we are glad to be a part of it. City government could augment that progress with more aggressive marketing.

Q. What do you foresee as the future of the old power plant?

A. I am not a proponent of telling potential investors what to do with their money, but if I had the resources personally I would invest to see it developed as a multipurpose venue for performing arts, cultural events, and conferences. There is an incredible appetite for fine arts and cultural events, and even pop culture events in Seaford. So much so that area residents go to Milford, Dover, Rehoboth Beach, Salisbury, Md., and farther to participate in and patronize such events. Seaford could benefit greatly by making that part of town a destination. It would add to the quality of life for everyone here. If the downtown had an anchor like that, building vacancies would no longer be a problem. Parking would be a problem, and that is a better one to have.

Anyone with a vision and the resources to develop that property should be heard, and I would support discussions with those willing to take on that type of risk. It is a risk well worth taking, and it could be hugely rewarding for the developer and the residents of Seaford.

Q. Do you think that the city should pursue now-shelved plans to put a solar park near its utility building?

A. I am in favor of solar energy projects where they make sense economically. In fact we have contracted to have a system installed at our residence on Willey Street. We are excited about it, and we hope the construction of this system will start soon. In this case, though, I think the city was correct in delaying the project. The cost to borrow the funds (interest) to construct the system had increased threefold while the cost to procure power for electric customers had decreased. This increased the payback period all the while reducing the citys ability to borrow, or pay for outright, needed upgrades elsewhere in the citys infrastructure. If conditions change in the future I would be in favor of a second look at the project.

 

Q. What do you think of the idea of using the golf course as a spray site for treated wastewater?

A. If it can be shown that it can be done safely, I think the spray irrigation of effluent on the golf course should be done. This was the clear intent of the city at outset of buying the property. A change in course would be counterproductive, and the alternative [for disposal of treated wastewater] is much less appealing. At great cost the city would have to procure enough land to the north or west of the city, and construct infrastructure through town to the property in order to make it happen. There is no need for city taxpayers to be burdened any more than needed when a solution is close at hand. The nearby town of Millsboro will have spent close to $20 million to buy additional lands, upgrade their plant, and perform pipeline construction on their recent project in order to comply with upcoming federal regulations. By using the golf course this project could be realized at a fraction of that price.

Q. Do you have any ideas as to what the city can do to get the Nylon Capitol Shopping Center up and running again?

A. The solution to the Nylon Capitol Shopping Center is to provide the current tenants and prospective new tenants better alternatives. Sometimes it is not a very pretty process, but the marketplace will eventually prevail. If the owners of the shopping center are unwilling to maintain and upgrade the center it will lose business. Successes elsewhere in the city will eventually force the owners to improve. It is difficult for me to comprehend that a business group would exclude itself from the renaissance of our city.

Q. What do you like best about living in Seaford? What would you change if you could?

A. As a boy I thought I was the luckiest person on the planet to be growing up in Seaford, Del. I learned to ride a bike on Arch Street, I learned to ride a unicycle on Fourth Street, and I learned how to skateboard down the Pine Street Hill. My parents yelled for me and my brothers from the front porch when it was time to come in. Other than me cracking my head on the pavemen, they didnt have to worry about our safety. The world is a changed place, and Seaford is no exception. If I have any impact as a councilman of this city it would be that we could let our children out of our sight if only briefly without fear. We could be better leaders in crime prevention rather than crime reaction. We have a well-trained and well-equipped police department; however, the city could play a more prevalent role in engaging and fostering community groups to prevent crime from happening in the first place.

Lambert first ran for the city council in 2005, when he lost by 36 votes to Rhea Shannon, who won his first term that year and who is retiring at the end of his term this year. Lambert ran again in 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

Mayor David Genshaw

David Genshaw, who has been serving as acting mayor since the resignation of Bill Bennett last summer, will be the city of Seafords new mayor. Genshaw was the only person to file as a candidate for the seat. Deadline to file was March 28. Genshaw is also serving as a city councilman. That three-year term is up in 2015. The city council will have to appoint someone to fill that seat until next years election.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.