Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey has announced he will step down as Dover's mayor effective Monday, April 28

Monday, April 28, will be Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr.’s last day in office.

Carey, 70, who announced his resignation in an April 25 letter to City Clerk Traci McDowell, said it was time to move on.

“I really thought it was time to retire from city government. I’ve got two sons, three grandchildren and one more on the way. I’ve had a good run of 22 years working for the city of Dover.”

Carey noted that recent discussions about moving the responsibility for the police department from the mayor to the city manager was a factor, albeit a minor one, in his decision.

“Not much,” he said. “That was part of it, but not much.”

“I think the way we have it now has worked very well over the years with all the other mayors that have been in office,” he said.

“I don’t like that they want to change the city charter for this; I think it’s a good means of checks and balances. I’ve been in this city more than 50 years and it’s always been like that. I think it should stay that way.”

Term ends in 2015

Carey’s action caught a lot of people by surprise.

“I was a little taken aback,” said City Council President David L. Bonar.

Bonar, who also serves as the city’s vice mayor, will take on Carey’s duties until a special election is held to fill the mayor’s remaining time in office.

Carey’s term expires in May 2015.

“It took a little while for me to collect my thoughts and get my arms around it,” Bonar said upon hearing the news. “But it’s only temporary until we hold the special election. Once that’s done, we’ll have a new mayor in place and we’ll move on.”

Carey, who is retired from the Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, was elected to the at-large city council seat in November 1997; he served there until being elected mayor in November 2007 following the resignation of Mayor Steve Speed. His most recent term in office began in May 2013.

Dover’s mayor earns $45,000 annually; there is no pension for former mayors.

The mayor said he had intended to fulfill his term and even run again, but had recently started to change his mind.

“I’ve been thinking about it and decided now was the time. It’s getting into summer and it’s time to go do a little fishing.”

Carey said his resignation is effective at 8 a.m., so he will not appear at the April 28 City Council session. Bonar said all committee meetings, which normally take place before the council session, would be postponed until the May 12 meeting.

The succession

Naturally, the question now turns to who will succeed Carey.

Because more than six months remains in Carey’s term, the city charter requires an election be held no less than 30 and no more than 60 days from the effective date of resignation.

Bonar already has taken himself out of the running.

“I’ve already told people I’d have to be looking for an apartment or that I’d be living in the motor home in back of my house,” he said. “I have no interest in running.”

Asked if he might seek the office, Councilman David L. Anderson, who represents the Fourth District with Councilman Wallace P. Dixon, said he was considering the idea.

“Yes, sure,” he said.

Anderson said he’d noted Carey seemed troubled at discussions about changing the charter possibly because it might be seen as a diminution of the mayor’s responsibilities.

“I think positively of the over job the mayor has done,” Anderson said. “I know there have been some frustrations as of late. I’m surprised he didn’t finish his term, but I support any decision he makes.”

Carey said there’s been no rancor when it comes to his relationship with City Council.

“No, I think there’s been a good relationship,” he said.

“I can’t say whether it’s gone smoothly or not smoothly,” Bonar said. “The mayor’s office is a little different and he has different responsibilities than the council.

“It would be unfair for me to characterize it. From my standpoint, there is no animosity.”