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Kent County Levy Court results show support for incumbents amid COVID-19, disaster relief

Emily Lytle
Dover Post

After a tornado tore through much of central Delaware this year and some small businesses shuttered from pandemic-related pressures, Kent County residents voted Tuesday for who would best represent them in decisions about relief efforts, economic development and the county’s budget.

From sewage systems and street lights to public safety and parks and recreation, the Kent County Levy Court shapes major parts of everyday life in Delaware.

Three commissioners in Kent County Levy Court – the traditional name for the county government – were up for election.

Here's who came out on top Tuesday and what that means for residents.

1st District

Joanne Masten, the former Smyrna mayor, will become the second female commissioner in Kent County Levy Court’s history. She won the seat for 1st District commissioner with 61.66% of the votes with nearly all state precincts reporting, defeating her Republican opponent Doug Chervenak.

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The first and only woman elected before now was Frances “Mickey” Messina, who was appointed and then elected for three full terms from 1972-1985.

Then-Smyrna Mayor Joanne Masten speaks at a press conference.

Kent County’s first district extends south from the New Castle County line, including Smyrna, Clayton, and the small towns of Cheswold, Kenton and Leipsic. 

Masten was endorsed by former 1st District Commissioner and Levy Court President Brooks Banta, who announced his retirement after 24 years on Levy Court this January.

“She’s so full of vigor and vitality,” Banta said of Masten in an earlier interview with the Dover Post. “She has the spirit and motivation that will help move this county forward. I think she has the attributes to make it all work.”

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He said he believed it was time for female representation on Levy Court and that Masten would be prepared with previous political and community service experience. A big part of Masten's platform touted that background and her focus on continuing economic development with the Kent Economic Partnership.

Third and Fifth districts

Democrat incumbents Allan Angel, 3rd District, and George "Jody" Sweeney, 5th District, came out on top Tuesday, both running on platforms that built on their relationships with the community and accomplishments after 16 and 12 years on Levy Court, respectively.

Candidate for Kent County Levy Court District 5 George "Jody" Sweeney (left) and Levy Court District 3 Allan Angel watch results at the FOP Lodge in Dover.

Angel won with 65.86% of the votes, and Sweeney took 57.26% in his district, according to unofficial election results with nearly all state precincts reporting.

The third district covers the east side of the county and includes part of Cheswold, Little Creek, most of Dover and an area down the coast until Bowers Beach. The fifth district includes parts of south Dover, Camden-Wyoming, Rodney Village, Woodside and Viola.

After the tornado in August, Angel said he would prioritize revamping the county's disaster relief program and partnering with the state to help residents access funding and equipment when needed.

Angel and Sweeney agreed that the Levy Court needs to continue working with the Kent Economic Partnership, which has helped attract manufacturing and warehouse employers at two sites this year.

George “Jody” Sweeney
Commissioner
5th Levy Court District
Kent County

"One [goal] is going to be moving forward on bringing in more manufacturing jobs and turning Kent County into the manufacturing mecca it used to be," Sweeney said moments after his win. 

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After results came in Tuesday night, Angel said he is focused on economic development and his main goal is to establish an amphitheater to attract tourism and create places for the community to gather.

"I really do believe that’s one of the things that would help bring our community together," he said, pointing out that it could be a potential venue for graduations and other special events.

As chair of the community services committee, Sweeney has led efforts to create a county historical museum at Brecknock Park. He said he wants to see an indoor turf venue at the Kent County Recreation Center.

While Angel's Republican challenger Welton Satchell lost by a significant margin, Clint Brothers was close behind Sweeney and even scored more in-person votes on Tuesday.

Levy Court District 1

100% precincts reporting

Joanne Masten (D)  10,696   61.77%

Doug Chervenak (R)     6,619   38.23%

Levy Court District 3

100% precincts reporting

Allan Angel (D)  7,478   65.86%

Welton Satchell (R)     3,877   34.14%

Levy Court District 5

100% precincts reporting

George "Jody" Sweeney (D)  7,371   57.2​​​​​​​%

Clint Brothers (R)     5,516   42.8%