Reader: residency isn’t a qualification


I’m writing another letter about the upcoming election of Bethany Beach Town Council members because I heard some troublesome reports of how some folks decide to vote.

Reportedly, without apparent regard for comparative qualifications and records, some residents have indicated that they would not vote for a candidate who was not a permanent resident, while some who are not permanent residents might vote for a non-resident on that basis alone. Now ask yourself: Does that make any sense?

Let’s say I’m a permanent resident, which I am, but I haven’t volunteered to serve on any Town committee or attended many committee or council meetings. But suppose I have some possibly useful career experience, want to keep busy in retirement (this is hypothetical for me), and decide I’d like to be on the council.

Am I more qualified than a non-resident property owner, or any other resident for that matter, who has dedicated years of voluntary service in our Town government? The answer is obvious: Definitely not.

To me, residency status is not a merit factor in selecting the best-qualified candidates. All property owners/taxpayers have a vested interest in the Town, whether we live here full-time all year, or part-time here and part-time in Florida or elsewhere. We’re all neighbors and want what’s best for the Town and citizens of Bethany Beach.

It seems to me that the essential qualifications for town council include demonstrated knowledge of and experience in our Town government, beginning with voluntary service on Town committees as a prerequisite. The position is too important for on-the-job training.

And as we all know, there are other ways to become involved in Town government and activities, even while pursuing a career. For example: attending Town meetings, commenting on issues for council consideration and volunteering to help with our various civic programs. Look at the records of the candidates. What have they done for Bethany Beach just over the last few years?

Joe Healy, Jerry Morris and Patrick Sheplee have the essential qualifications, with extensive records of volunteer service and significant contributions in our Town government, as well as numerous charitable and civic activities in Bethany Beach. They have represented everyone in Bethany Beach with fairness and sound judgement: both resident and non-resident property owners; those east and west of Route 1; and both snowbirds and stay-at-home birds. All of us. In my opinion, they are the best-qualified candidates this year.

So, if you want to continue to have the most efficient and effective Town government, with council members who have the necessary knowledge and experience, and have demonstrated their commitment to working for what’s best for our Town and all citizens, the choice in this election is clear. Vote to re-elect Joe Healy, Jerry Morris and Patrick Sheplee. It’s as simple as that.


Jerry Hardiman

Bethany Beach