Dewey Beach deserves a year without strife
After years of bitterly divisive campaigns, there is no election this year in Dewey Beach. It could be that possible candidates just don’t want to face the possibility of unending lawsuits and ethics complaints that in recent years have characterized Dewey Beach politics, and it would be hard to blame them. No one would relish being at the center of the antagonism of recent electoral battles.
But it could also be that in hiring Town Manager Marc Appelbaum, Dewey Beach has found a way to get past some of that acrimony. Having run his own successful business, Appelbaum has solid managerial experience, and he has also shown he is adept at forging compromise when none appears likely.
When Appelbaum served on town council, he realized the importance of taking control of the town budget and engineered a $700,000 budget turnaround. This year, serving as town manager, he took charge of a looming deficit and ensured the town finished the budget year with a surplus.
By taking the possibility of a major deficit off the table, Appelbaum has transformed the hot-button issue of a possible gross receipts tax from an emergency revenue-producing tool to a policy issue that can be calmly debated – and it’s with input from all concerned parties that the best ideas are most likely to emerge so a solution can be found that all sides have a stake in.
Like all of the Cape Region, Dewey Beach faces continuing change as population and congestion increase and the interests of property owners shift. Competing interests clash and can’t always be perfectly resolved. Still, with the budget for now on a solid footing, Dewey appears ready to take growth and change in stride. This summer, the bars and restaurants are as lively and busy as ever, while at the same time officials say more families than ever are also visiting the town.
Elections are at the heart of democracy, and it’s always healthy to have a field of strong candidates competing for a town’s leadership. The calm in Dewey Beach will not last forever, but a one-year halt to the mayhem can only be a good thing.