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September 26, 1997     Cape Gazette
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September 26, 1997

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10 - tAF: tAZ'rI, rrtaay, epemer zo - ucover z, ltm Incumbents win by healthy margin in Dewey election By Jen EUingsworth Netting approximately 70 per- cent of absentee votes and over 60 percent of machine vote s, the in - cumbent "BLT Ticket" Scored a decisive victory in the Dewey Beach Municipal Election on Sat- urday, Sept. 20. Newly re-elected commissioner and former Dewey Beach mayor James Lavelle became "Landslide Lavelle," alter he edged running mate Jim Bracken by two votes, 480-478. Bill Tansey earned 445. Newcomer Jo Ann Hill regis- tered 234, while fellow challenger Allen Engleking had 207. The term of commissioner in Dewey Beach is two years. Town Manager Bill Rutherford said Bracken, Lavelle and Tansey as a ticket won 309 absentee votes and 356 machine votes. "I think as the vote indicated, we got a vote of approval," said Tansey. "It tells us we should stay the course, and that's what we in- tend to do." Polls opened at 10 a.m. on elec- tion day, and voters and candi- dates were out in full force at the U.S. Lifesaving Station. Bracken, Lavelle and Tansey handed out bacon, lettuce and tomato sand- wiches in honor of the occasion, and Hill, Engleking and their fam- ilies greeted voters at the polling place. A small crowd rallied around the bulletin board outside of the town hall on Rodney Street nearly nine hours later when the election results were posted. When the votes were handed down, candi- dates on both sides shook hands and voters traded their viewpoints of the outcome. "I thought it was a good elec- tion," said Roger Mallet, a Dewey Beach resident and chairman of the planning and zoning commis- sion. "I thought some good issues were brought up. I'm sure the town will address those issues in the near future to see what im- provements can be made in terms of making Dewey Beach a better community." The weeks leading up to the election were filled with spirited campaigns. The role of the town's police department, the presence of its summer officers and ordi- nances controlling noise were top- ics used as platforms by the chal- lenging candidates. "It [the election] was a vindica- tion of the police department, the court system - everything," said Lavelle. "The image of the town has improved. That's what I found out voter after voter." While the incumbents said they're pleased with the results from the election, they said they'll address those concerns brought forth during the race. Lavelle, who was elected for his fourth term, said he plans to initi- ate a bipartisan commission to ex- amine charges brought by individ- uals concerning the police depart- ment. The commission, which will be on the agenda at the next town meeting on Saturday, Oct. 11, will serve to protect the police, he said, "beqause som e PeOPle make mwalrranted, ufifounded; " charges. We wiii investigate those fairly." "I'm pleased we won," said Bracken. "I really also think that everything they brought up we're going to analyze. I think there were some nuggets in the thing - some things we hadn't thought of before." Police Chief Raymond Morri- son said the town's success over the past five years has been brought about by the current corps of commissioners. He said he feels that their support has been paramount in the taming of what was once viewed as a "lawless town." "I think the incumbents fought for many years to point Dewey Beach in the right direction," he said. "It is only the success it is today because of Lavelle, Brack- en, Tansey, [Mayor Bob] Freder- ick and [Commissioner Faith] Duncan." Morrison, who has been police chief in Dewey Beach since 1992, said references made during the election'to police bullying were unfounded. "They were so wrong," he said. "I believe in community policing. I won't have a bully in my department." Challengers Hill and Engleking said they're glad that certain is- sues were brought to light during the election. "We still have issues, as far as I'm concerned, and we'll try to work with them," said Engleking. "I love Dewey Beach, and Iwill do what I can to help make it the best resort area on the Delmarva Coast, just as if I were elected." Hill said she felt like she and Engleking did a service for the community by running for the posts. "We couldn't just hand it over to them [the incumbents] without a challenge," she said: "It brought issues to light, and many-people heard problems and concerns. They are there and they are real." Rutherford said the election was typical of Dewey Beach, and that the town is moving in a different direction than it was in 1991. "It's an election that's kind of typical in Dewey Beach," he said. "You have property owners with a variety of views - noise, the direc- tion of the community, beach re- plenishment. Since 1991, it seems every time that an issue such as these are brought forth the voter turnout seems to be overwhelm- ingly heavy." Rutherford said he thought the tempo of this most recent election was in favor of the incumbents be- cause property owners don't want to see the town return to its wilder days. "The comments I heard on election day were 'We don't want a noisy town,' and 'We don't mind the summer officers.' " Cape Gazette reporter Kerry Kester contributed to this story. Jen Ellingsworth photo Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches were the order of the day for voters who turned out for the Dewey Beach election on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the U.S. Lifesaving Station on Dagswor- thy Avenue. Shown (l-r) is the "BLT Ticket," commissioners James Lavelle, Jim Bracken and Bill Tansey with challenger Allen Engleking. Kerry Kester photos Above, Dewey Beach commissioner Bill Tansey (leftl) shakes the hand of challenger Jo Ann Hill after the results of the municipal election were posted outside of the town hall on Satur- day, Sept. 20, as Hill's husband, Jim, looks on. Although she lost her bid for a commissioner's seat, Hill said she was glad she ran for election because it was a race that,brought several im- portant issues to light. Below, members of the "BLT Ticket," (l-r) Bill Tansey, James Lavelle and Jim Bracken, stand in front of the posted results at the Dewey Beach Town Hall. The three incumbents earned approximately 70 percent of the absentee votes and more than 60 percent of the ma- chine votes in the election.