The Delaware Senate voted unanimously to extend the term limits in office for Dover’s mayor and City Council members beginning after the April elections.Senate Bill 165, which passed 21-0  with all present, will now go to the state House of Representatives.


The Delaware Senate voted unanimously to extend the term limits in office for Dover’s mayor and City Council members beginning after the April elections.

Senate Bill 165, which passed 21-0 with all present, will now go to the state House of Representatives.

The mayor of Dover and City Council members currently serve two-year terms. This bill would lengthen the term of mayor and City Council members to three years beginning after the next election scheduled for April.

The new term limit for the mayor would begin on the second Monday in May following his election, according to the legislation.

As for council members, four councilmen out of nine will be elected from each of the districts of the city for three-year terms. They too will take office on the second Monday in May following their election.

During the April 2013 election, four district councilmen and one councilman at large will be elected to four-year terms.

Beginning with the 2015 election, the mayor’s term limit as well as City Council members’ term limits would increase to four years.

The mayor and at-large councilman will then be elected at alternating elections.

Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. said the city petitioned the state Legislature to amend the charter of the city of Dover during this legislative session as a measure that would save money for the city and would make elected officials more efficient. Sen. Brian J. Bushweller (D-Dover) is the bill's sponsor, and State Rep. Darryl M. Scott (D-Dover) is the co-sponsor.

If the measure were enacted into law, Dover would ultimately hold elections every two years once everything fell into sequence as opposed to every year, Carey said. Council members serve staggered terms.

“It’s the right way to go,” he said. “It’s going to save a lot of money because we won’t have elections as often. It costs $10,000 to have an election.

“We want people to go out and vote,” Carey added. “They won’t have to go out as often. And it’ll be better for representatives who can concentrate on what they’re doing for constituents and the city as opposed to running for reelection after a year.”

Carey has announced his bid for reelection. He has no opponents so far.

Within City Council, Councilwoman Sophia R. Russell (Fourth District), Councilman David L. Bonar (Third District) and Holly Malone, who is a challenger in the First District race have all filed to run.

Councilman James L. Hutchison Sr. first brought up the matter before City Council and the mayor this past autumn.

The No. 1 issue for Hutchison was the fact that council members were taking office just weeks after the election during a busy legislative time. Namely, they come into office with just six weeks to approve the budget.

“Many of those who take office are working full time someplace else,” he said. “So, it’s really a stressful time for someone brand new to come in and understand the ins and outs of the budget.”

In addition, the amendment to the charter would save the city manpower and money as it faces a possible $3.4 million deficit for the 2013, Hutchison said.

“We’re facing some serious financial issues and it really takes a lot of hard work to understand what the needs are,” he said. “Frankly, a four-year term gives you three years without having to worry about an election.”