Del. Looking at Allowing Deployed Council Members to Still Serve - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Looking at Allowing Deployed Council Members to Still Serve City

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Dover City Councilman David Anderson Dover City Councilman David Anderson

DOVER, Del.- Serving one's country while one's city - that's what a bill under consideration in Delaware wants to help people do.

Dover City Councilman David Anderson is at the heart of the issue. He is unable to sit in his usual seat at city hall right now because he is deployed with the 198th Signal Battalion. But he does not think that means he cannot still participate in governing. He says the Internet makes it possible.

"There are a lot of things that can be done," he said. "Particularly in the short-term - through things like video conferencing. There's no reason input can't be given in those particular circumstances."

"I think it's really just recognizing that the technology exists today," said Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Clayton, who is sponsoring the bill. "Using Skype or other programs that are free and allow people to communicate in real time. "

State law says for someone to participate in a meeting they have to be physically there. The bill would give cities, like Dover, the option to allow a deployed member of a city council or board to serve via video conference.

"Even if this legislation passes it's still up to the city of Dover as to whether they would allow David Anderson to participate," Paradee said. "It's still going to be up to his commanders in the field whether they would allow David to participate."

"What I hope comes from it is a recognition of the citizen soldier that goes all the way back to the beginning of this country," said Anderson.

Anderson said he is not sure how much he could during this deployment, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be an option on potential future deployments or for members of other councils throughout Delaware who may be deployed.

A Department of Defense rule allows this under specific circumstances: it cannot interfere with military duties, cannot be performed in uniform, cannot be as a representative of a political party and needs the approval of the Secretary of Defense.   

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