Any possibility of a protracted debate over who will be the next president of the Dover City Council apparently came to an end Monday afternoon when Third District Councilman Sean Lynn unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy.
Lynn's decision leaves fellow Third District council candidate David L. Bonar as the only other council member who has expressed an interest in the job.
City Council members had planned a forum-style meeting the evening of May 6 where Bonar and Lynn each would have presented his case, but that meeting was canceled just hours before it began.
Council members will formally vote on the leadership position at their annual meeting planned for May 13. Current Council President Thomas J. Leary decided not to run for another term in office; he will be succeeded as the at-large council member by Timothy A. Slavin, who faced no opposition when he declared his candidacy. Slavin will take his seat May 13.
Bonar said he has had his eye on the top job for a while.
"When Mr. Leary announced he was retiring, I made no secret of the fact that I'd like to be council president," Bonar said. "I talked with my colleagues and said if you'll have me, I'll be happy to serve."
Lynn said he felt the way the votes were lining up could have resulted in a 4-4 tie at Monday's meeting – Fourth District Councilman David Anderson is deployed to Afghanistan – and that not having a council president would have unnecessarily hamstrung the council as it enters its next term.
"I think my decision is in the best interest of the city at this juncture," Lynn said. "I don't think it would be a good idea for the city to be involved in a protracted debate about the council presidency when there are so many other important issues to be addressed."
As the council president is responsible for staffing a number of positions on the city's four standing committees, those appointments could not be made and those committees could not function while any battle for the council presidency went on, Lynn said.
"No business would get done," he said.
In addition, Lynn said he could do more for his constituents by not having a good portion of his time taken up with presidential duties, which he sees mostly as moderating the other eight council members.
"When faced with the choice of stopping city business in its tracks versus electing a moderator for a meeting, I think the gentlemanly thing to do was simply to withdraw."
"I think Dave is a good guy and he's a good friend and I respect him," Lynn added. "I think he'll do a good job."
Page 2 of 2 - If elected to the position, Bonar said his job will be that of a facilitator.
Council president, he said, is "the person who can bring together persons with varying ideas and who can come up with a reasonable solution to problems we may run across."
"It also falls on the council president to make sure everybody that has an opinion is adequately heard and has the chance to debate the issues that come before us," Bonar said.
If he gains the post, Bonar said one of his first concerns will be how to balance committee appointments seeing that Anderson will be out of the country for an entire year. Anderson sits on several committees, and each of the four standing committees requires at least three council members on each.
Those committees are Legislative, Finance and Administration, Utility, Parks and Recreation and Community Enhancement and Safety Advisory and Transportation.
Not counting himself, that leaves seven council members split between 12 seats.
However, Bonar can't officially begin tackling these or any other problems until a vote is taken Monday night.
"You know the saying, 'It ain't over til it's over,'" he said. "I'm not counting any chickens until they're hatched."
The Dover City Council's annual meeting, where Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. also will deliver his State of the City address, will be held at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 13, at Dover City Hall.