Cheswold is looking to a former mayor to step in once again. Former Mayor and Councilperson Jeannette V. Williams was tapped to again fill the mayor's position after former Mayor Bob Sine stepped down.
Cheswold Mayor Jeannette V. Williams did not expect to find herself back in Town Hall so soon after she was not reelected to the Cheswold Town Council during the last election.
But Town Council decided to bring Williams back to fill in as mayor after former Mayor Bob Sine stepped down. Williams had been on Town Council for two years and served as mayor for 10 months.
In Cheswold, residents elect the members of its Town Council. The council then selects one of its members to serve as mayor under a strong council, weak mayor system.
Then-Acting Mayor and Town Council member Ken Brown, during council’s November meeting, noted that Williams and another former mayor, Donald Tinari, were the two people who had applied for the vacant council seat.
Williams said her experience on council, the Planning Commission and commitment to Cheswold qualified her for the position.
Tinari argued that his seven years on council and current membership with the Planning Commission qualified him more to be on council. Furthermore, he said council needed to do a better job of keeping residents informed.
Town Council went into a closed door, executive session and Secretary/Treasurer Theon Callender, Linda Perry, Sonia Gassaway and Mildred Johnson came back to unanimously appoint Williams. (Brown did not vote since mayor only votes in cases of tiebreakers.)
“It was an honor that they thought I had done a good enough job for them to ask me to come back,” Williams said. “Your mayor should be someone who is strong and should be able to voice their opinions and their reasons behind them and be able to listen to council and their reasons.”
When asked where things stand with regard to litigation involving former police chief Robin Vann, Williams responded with “no comment.” Vann reportedly is waiting for the town to pay him $289,001 awarded to him by Kent County Superior Court Oct. 29, 2009. Vann successfully claimed Cheswold had breached the good faith” covenant of his contract with the town and violated the Delaware Whistleblower’s Act when he was fired as Cheswold chief of police in 2005.
Williams prefers to talk about how the town is living within its means, including a modest, modular unit shared by both Town Hall and the Cheswold Police Department. While the trailer is small, it’s a huge upgrade from the crumbling building that Cheswold had leased next door to the Cheswold Fire Co.
The building has been razed.
By owning its own building now, Cheswold can now apply for grants, such as the energy grant that will allow it to install new, more efficient windows, Williams said.
“It is [modest] and it has to be,” she said. “Given the things that have been in the news about the town, we have to deal with what we have.”