Sussex County Delaware

Dewey Mayor Won't
Rush to Replace TM
Fenwick Island ...

Rutherford Resigns, Cites
Differences With Officials

SC Online Content Editor

Dewey Beach Mayor Patricia Wright says she is in "no hurry" to replace Town Manager William Rutherford, who resigned on Friday, Aug. 29, 2003, citing differences with town officials, including Wright.

Wright said Police Chief Gordon Eliot has been named acting town manager, and that Lt. Sam Mackert has been named acting police chief while the town searches for a permanent replacement for Rutherford.

Wright said she will form a committee to search for Rutherford's replacement. The committee will solicit resumes, and will narrow the candidates down to five, whose names will then be submitted to the town commissioners for review.

"I'm not in a hurry," she said, adding that she feels confident that Eliot and the other town employees are capable of handling day-to-day town business until a new town manager is hired.

Rutherford had been Dewey's town manager for 15 years.

"I just kind of felt for the past year ... I wasn't on the same page as the mayor and some of the commissioners," he said on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

In particular, Rutherford said he was upset after an incident involving signs for candidates in the upcoming town election.

Rutherford said he told town employees to move the signs onto private property and out of the public right-of-way. Wright, on the other hand, wanted the employees to remove the signs altogether.

Rutherford said election time has always been his least favorite time of the year.

"I wasn't having the time of my life," during the election seasons, he said. "I always get very tense." He said it is always hard, as town manager, to stay out of the town's politics, and he was trying to handle the sign issue "in a low-key, diplomatic way."

He also said he felt caught in the middle when Courtney Riordan instructed him to change the way the town reported its budget numbers. He said Riordan took issue with the way the town had reported its operating budget and wanted him to change it. But Rutherford objected, saying "the numbers are the numbers. You can't change them."

Wright said Rutherford has "been with the town for so many years ... I'm sure it's very awkward for every town manager to get along with the mayor and the town commissioners" as they change over the years. "But that's part of the job," she said. "If he was uncomfortable, then this is the right thing he's done."

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