Dennis Barbour Statement on withdrawal from race

Dennis Barbour explains reasons for withdrawal

Cape Gazette, July 22

I am writing to provide background to Rehoboth's citizens on my decision to withdraw as a candidate in this year’s city election.

I am confident that I would have won my third term in the election based on my record and the support of many citizens. I am withdrawing neither for fear of the campaign debate nor for fear of losing the election. I am withdrawing for the reasons that follow.

I am proud of my record of accomplishment, but the past year has been extremely frustrating in trying to accomplish many of the goals that the citizens elected me to pursue. Among other things, I am particularly proud of the leadership role I played in enactment of fair and reasonable FAR revisions to reduce the ballooning size of new houses and the tree ordinance, which has preserved our beautiful urban forest that was being threatened by over­de-velopment. I have led in a number of other important areas as well, as evidenced by the fact the I have had at least one agenda item on 49 of the 64 commission meet-ings we have held since the 2005 election.

I have been a vigorous supporter of a vibrant business community particularly in the past year when the divisive actions of some commissioners have done so much to damage the city’s relationship with it.

But perhaps most importantly, I have tried to bring a greater sense of openness, transparency in deci sion making, inclusiveness, candid debate, and visionary thinking to the ways our city is governed and managed. In my first and second terms I argued strenuously against precedent- setting special treatment in zoning matters. Recently I have been a persistent advocate, with a minority of city commissioners and against the opposition of a majority of other commissioners, for greater citizen accessibility and openness to our decision making, such as video internet streaming of our meetings.

I have been an ardent minority advocate for instituting common-sense measures to enhance public safety, such as bicycle lanes and pedestrian safety measures. In the past year I have argued vigorously, to no avail, for engaging the business and residential communities in our work to address the controversy surrounding restaurant patios and noise. In short, I care and speak passionately about the substance and processes of our government decisions and have a record that demonstrates that.

At least during my first term in office, a majority of the other city commissioners shared my goals.

Now I see a majority of my fellow commissioners going in direc­ tions that I can neither support nor change. While my priorities for the city have been consistent over the past six years, the priorities of a majority of commission-ioners are no longer aligned with my priorities, nor, I believe, with the priorities of the citizens who elected me.

The dysfunction in the way the commission conducts its affairs has had major consequences for our city. Recently it has become difficult to get a majority of the city commissioners to continue our past progress. In fact, on occasions there have been proposals among some city commissioners to roll back some of our accomplishments. In the past year or two, I have worked tirelessly to build consensus, or at least a strong majority, around some of these issues.

But on many occasions there has been a refusal to even bring up some of these matters for an up-or- down vote, and on other occasions a majority of the commissioners has deferred to decisions that have been made without the degree of openness, examination and transparency that I’ve sought.

In short, I am spending more and more time devoted to city commission matters, and yet little is being accomplished.

Indeed, the personal attacks against me at our meetings ­sometimes by other city commissioners - have replaced what should instead have been good faith debates about government philosophy and our city’s policies.

While I have never turned away from challenges, it is now evident to me that my goals for Rehoboth Beach can no longer be realized with the city commission as it is now constituted.

Those who serve as mayor and as commissioners must embrace greater openness, transparency in decision- making, inclusiveness, candid debate and visionary thinking. I hope that all of you will keep these points in mind when you vote in the upcoming election.

In short, from my vantage point as a commissioner for the past six years, it is time for new leadership.

It has been a privilege to serve as your city commissioner for the past six years and I wish all the best for the city as it moves forward after the election, including for certain with at least one new office holder - a new steward for the seat I now occupy and a much- needed fresh perspective in the debates about the future of our city.

Dennis J. Barbour, Esq., CAE Non Profit Advice and Counsel Washington, D. C.