Sussex County Delaware

Newcomer Fenwick's
Top Vote-Getter

Fenwick Island 2002 Elections

Carmean Gets 268 Votes
in Her First Election Bid

SC Online Publisher

One newcomer and another candidate who just joined the council in the past year were the top vote-getters in the 2002 Fenwick Island Town Council election on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002.

Vicki Carmean, Peter Frederick and Harry Haon all earned two-year terms on the Fenwick council, while C. Mark Tingle finished fourth in the three-seat race.

Carmean, a 59-year-old retired school teacher, received 268 of the 354 votes cast in her first bid for office in Fenwick.

Peter Frederick, the second-highest vote-getter with 257, will retain the seat he took over less than a year ago when he replaced Chris Clark after Clark's resignation.

Haon, meanwhile, captured 213 votes to earn his sixth consecutive term.

Tingle, 33, totalled 171 votes.

On Monday morning, Carmean, whose son Mark and his wife gave the Carmeans their fifth grand-child over the weekend, said she was surprised by winning the most votes in the election in her first bid for public office but that she had a good feeling based on her door-to-door meetings with Fenwick residents.

"I knew no matter what happened that it was a win-win situation because I had given my best effort and met a lot of people I didn't know," said Carmean. "I felt really good talking to people and hearing what they're concerned about."

Carmean said the major concern was a lack of communication between council and the residents. That problem has crystallized in the past few months over the town's budget, which included a 10 percent tax increase after only one workshop, and the ongoing rift between council and the police department.

"People are concerned about the budget process," said Carmean. "The tax rate went through without a lot of forewarning and discussion with the citizens and the feeling is that the people want some input and to better understand where the money is going. That's not a criticism of council but a bookkeeping procedure of council that needs to be updated so people can see what was spent two years ago, what was spent in the first three quarters of this year, and what's projected in the future.

"Inter-woven in that is this communication issue. We have a lot of retired, very intelligent people here on the island and they're used to being involved and having some sort of input in their other communities."

Carmean said other concerns included beautifying Route 1 in Fenwick Island so that it's not a "concrete parking lot" and environmental issues.

She said DelDOT will be meeting with the town on Friday, Aug. 16, at 10 a.m. in town hall to discuss some options for improving the appearance of Route 1. She said, however, that she would like the residents' input on such a project, as well.

"I was so impressed as I went door-to-door meeting people that so many people on the island are so clever with their gardens and decorating and I'd like to see some of that energized on Route 1," said Carmean.

As for the environment, she said residents are pleased with the town's Blue Wave award for its beaches but continue to be concerned about the health of Assawoman Bay.

"I know some members of the council are involved with different bay groups," said Carmean, "but there again, I think there's a need for communication for what's being done."

Carmean said that while she has never held public office, she has been very involved in various communities she has lived in as a teacher and on committees formed by counties and municipalities.

"I'm not an autocrat. I'm a team player," said Carmean. "I really like working with groups."

Reached Saturday evening, Frederick, 58, says his priorities have changed over the years as he has become a grandparent and uncle.

He said a top priority now will be maintaining Fenwick's family-oriented atmosphere, including developing outlets for the grandchildren who visit the town in the summer.

"The town has a lot of grandparents in it and we need to focus not so much on the grandparents, but on the grandchildren," said Frederick.

To that end, Frederick supports a "tot lot" on the ocean side of town so young children and their parents and grandparents don't have to cross busy Route 1 to go to the town park.

Frederick said he has some concerns about the town's beautification projects and hopes the town can "do something about the beach ends and canal ends to make them enjoyable for folks," such as the benches installed along Route 1 and the canals by the Town of South Bethany this year.

He said the beautification project should complement the 50th anniversary of the town's incorporation in 2003.

"What would be nice is to do more than make T-shirts," said Frederick. "Not that I have anything against T-shirts, but we have very creative people in this town. They have very good ideas and all we have to do is listen to them and figure out a way to pay for them (their ideas)."

He said he also hopes the town can resolve the personnel issues that have flared up with the police department quickly. "I think we're moving quickly in the right direction to do that," he said.

Fenwick Council President Peg Baunchalk said Saturday night that council would set a reorganization meeting in the near future.

Although Baunchalk is running for Sussex County Council in the November election, she said she would accept the Fenwick council presidency if asked by her fellow council members to do so again.

Baunchalk's Fenwick term expires in August 2003. She would be required to relinquish her Fenwick seat if she wins a seat on county council.

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