Marion Jones is right mayor for Milton
Shell-shocked after the defeat of the water tower referendum, Mayor Cliff Newlands sent out a survey asking voters why the referendum he pushed for so hard, against so much public opposition, failed so miserably. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents cited a lack of confidence in elected leaders; we didn’t trust him.
I lacked confidence in Mayor Newlands because: (1) council wasn’t told before it voted to go to referendum that the water tower had been de-listed by the state; and (2) the night after that vote the finance committee, not the council, was told that 44 million gallons of water a year were “missing” and had been “missing” for quite some time. We need a mayor who will work with council, not blindside them. We need a mayor who will listen to the public. Marion Jones is that mayor. Point of information: Marion, who just happened to attend that finance committee meeting, told the council and the public about the missing water.
I lack confidence in Newlands’ go-it-alone style of management as police commissioner. Mayor Cliff rode into town guns blazing. He slashed and burned the waste and bloat from the town’s administration, but when he got to the police department, he holstered his guns and sold his horse. Why? Why, 18 months after town council voted to cap the police force at nine officers through attrition, was the COPS grant still an open issue? Why just last week did council have to vote to direct Chief Phillips to withdraw from the COPS program and stop advertising for another officer? Why, 15 months after the article “Chief: Heroin use, gangs on rise in Milton” headlined the front page of the Cape Gazette, don’t we have a media policy governing the police department? Council sure wanted one, so did Milton’s citizens, especially those of us who own property in town.
Why in three years haven’t we analyzed our take-home car policy, an issue that comes up like clockwork every year at budget time? And why, without telling the council, did the mayor let Chief Phillips use a $22,000 Sussex County grant to pay himself and his police force “bonuses” rather than using that money to pay for, oh I don’t know, a police car? We need a mayor who will work with council, not ignore them. We need a mayor who will listen to the public, not ignore us. Marion Jones is that mayor.
During this year’s budget negotiations we were treated to more of “Cliff knows best.” In this episode, unhappy with the town manager’s draft budget, Mayor Cliff trashed it after the first budget workshop and substituted his own. True to form, he didn’t consult council. We need a mayor who understands that he is not the town manager; that the town pays someone to do that job. We need a mayor who understands that in Milton, the mayor and council set policies; the town manager administers them. Marion Jones is that mayor. Point of information: Marion voted not to approve the Newlands 2013 budget.
Milton citizens face an important decision this March. With the seating of Mike Cote and John Collier, the council table will be blessed with a depth and breadth of experience the likes of which I haven’t seen in the 10 years I’ve lived here. Vote for a mayor who will work with and rely upon the collective wisdom of this council, not freeze them out or turn a blind eye to their decisions. Vote for a mayor who will listen to your concerns and work to address them. Please join me and vote for Marion Jones March 2.
Lynn E. Ekelund