NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
Oak Orchard resident Al Gargano has decided to switch from the Democratic Party to the Independent Party of Delaware to insure he can reach the November general election for the 20th District State Senate race, he said on Friday, Aug. 30, 2002.
Gargano, a veteran political volunteer making his first run for public office, said he made the switch because he and his team of volunteers have spoken to many independents and Republicans who said they would vote for him rather than Democratic incumbent George H. Bunting Jr. if he were in the general election on Nov. 5.
So rather than take a chance on losing the Democratic primary on Sept. 7, Gargano decided on Thursday night and Friday morning to end his 35-year association with the Democratic Party, an association that goes back to the age of 21 and includes extensive volunteering for U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden.
The 20th Senate District race will now be a three-horse contest between Gargano, Sen. Bunting, and William Winkler of the Green Party.
"I have a lot of Democrats, but I have a lot of Republicans and independents who want to vote for me so coming out of the primary was a must," said Gargano on Friday. "It was enough people that it really woke me up."
Because of his life-long association with the Democratic Party, Gargano said the decision did not come easy. He said his relationship with three well-known Democrats -- Sen. Biden, retired State Representative Charlie West, and Sussex County Democratic Party Chair Thelma Monroe -- made that decision particularly difficult.
Still, after sending 35 volunteers out to determine if he would be better off getting out of the Democratic Party, and hearing from all 35 that he would, Gargano said he had to make the move.
"I've always been a Democrat but I've always worked for the person," said Gargano. "I don't get into things to lose. I'm serious about this. I didn't have one person tell me not to switch over, and they were from all over the district, not just here in my neighborhood but in Dagsboro, Selbyville and Bethany. It's a pretty good feeling for me."
He said he considered joining the Republican Party but that by the time he made up his mind to get out of the Democratic primary, it was too late.
The 15th annual Jazz Funeral signifying the end of the summer season will be held in Bethany Beach this year at 5 p.m. on Labor Day, Sept. 2.
The funeral, complete with a New Orleans style Dixieland Jazz Band, will proceed along the Bethany Beach boardwalk and will bid farewell to Summer 2002.
Founded by former Bethany Beach businessman Moss Wagner, the jazz funeral features the Dixie Cats band playing with a procession of mourners dressed in black and carrying a casket to carry the Summer of 2002 to its final resting place at the Bethany bandstand.
The procession starts at the north end of the boardwalk and proceeds -- slowly -- south to songs such as Amazing Grace and When the Saints Go Marching In. At the bandstand, speeches will be made in remembrance of Summer 2002
One of the most unique events on the Mid-Atlantic coast, the jazz funeral typically draws a couple of thousand onlookers.
Wagner, who ran the Bethany Beach Ice Cream Parlor in the 1970s and 1980s, is now a massage therapist and radio show host in Crested Butte, Colo.
In the event of rain and lightning, parts of the jazz funeral will be held at the same time at the Bethany Town Centre mall in downtown Bethany.
More information is available at 302-537-1585.
Radio talk show host Dan Gaffney of WGMD 92.7 FM has been nominated by the Independent Party of Delaware to run for the 18th State Senatorial District in the November general election.
Incumbent Republican F. Gary Simpson of Milford is the only candidate to file for the seat so far.
In a news release from the party, Gaffney said he was "honored" but would have to seriously think about the invitation. Gaffney discussed the situation and potential conflicts of interest between his job and holding political office with his listeners this week.
Wolfgan von Baumgart, the party's Sussex County chairman and a candidate for the 5th Councilmanic District seat on Sussex County Council, said Gaffney was nominated and unanimously accepted by the party.
von Baumgart said he nomination was made in "recognition of Mr. Gaffney's commitment to government reform in his role as WGMD's 'Voice of the People'."
Political party officials have until Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 4:30 p.m. to file candidate nominations with the state election commissioner.
The Ocean View Police Department has received a $75,000 grant from the Community Oriented Police Services Program (COPS) to fund a new position on the force, according to Police Chief Ken McLaughlin.
Also receiving funding for one position each were the towns of Blades and Bridgeville.
Chief McLaughlin said the money could be used to hire one additional officer within the next year. He said the town already planned to hire two new officers within the next year due to new development and increased population in the town.
The COPS grants in Delaware, totalling $300,000, will go to seven municipalities in the state, according to U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden.
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