DOVER, Del.- Five available jobs and just five applicants. It sounds odd, but it is exactly what is happening in Dover.
Only one candidate filed for each of the five available city council seats. So, Friday the city officially canceled its April municipal elections.
The city charter made the election unnecessary. The city clerk says Dover does not allow write-in candidates. In fact, in 2003 the council voted to opposed a proposed state at the state level that would have allowed for them. That change didn't go through - so no write-ins. And this year that means no election needed.
Dover City Councilman James Hutchison learned Friday he wouldn't have to run for re-election. Instead, he had been simply declared the winner in the city's first district.
"It's certainly nice not to have the opportunity not to have to go out and campaign and get right down to the issues," he said.
Hutchison said campaigning usually cost him about $1,000. And an election runs the city about $10,000.
"They probably will save time and save money," said Dr. Sam Hoff, a political science professor at Delaware State University.
Hoff said saving money is good, but the city does lose out on something by not having any contested elections.
"We will not have significant debate or discussion over issues that are facing the city of Dover," he said.
"Whatever policies they want to pass, they will - without anyone to debate them or go against them," said Ashley Chicester, from Dover. "I think there should definitely be more people involved. There's no reason people should be running unopposed."
Hutchison acknowledges the city will miss out on some debate. But he's taking the lack of election opponents as a sign that people in Dover are generally happy with council.
"If people were not happy, you would have opposition. There would be someone who would step up to the plate and run."
The last time Dover canceled municipal elections was in 2000.
It can be hard to get people to show up to the polls even when there is a contested city race. Only a little more than 100 people voted in a special city council election back in later November.
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:19 AM EDT2013-05-18 14:19:20 GMT
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