By Carson Williamson

During Bridgeville’s March Commission meeting, a new face, Darrynn Harris, was inducted as the Commissioner for District 5 after running unopposed for the seat. A Bridgeville native, Harris is no stranger to the field of local politics having previously run for the office of Delaware State Representative. In order to get a better understanding of where Commissioner Harris’s interests lie, it was important to first learn where he came from.

Darrynn Harris is the quintessential Bridgeville guy; born and raised in the town, a 2004 Woodbridge graduate before going on to Delaware State University to get a degree in education. A middle school science teacher for 15 years, Harris has been in or around Bridgeville his entire life and has come to see many changes over the years. 

“Bridgeville has changed a lot,” Harris said. “There was a time when you knew everyone who lived on your street in Bridgeville… and unfortunately, as times have changed, that reality has changed.” 

New Bridgeville Commissioner Darrynn Harris is shown with former Commissioner Dr. Marlene Saunders. Photo by Carson Williamson

Harris talked about how Bridgeville has become more renter-heavy rather than having homeowners, leading to a lack of neighborhood relations that once existed. Harris also spoke that there used to be more to do in town as a younger individual, more recreational activities, parks, basketball courts, the old playground next to Union Methodist Church. 

“Over time (those things) were taken away… you saw the greying of the community,” Harris said. “Bridgeville has shifted very much into what often feels like a very retired community.” Harris also mentioned a recent observation he made, where he noticed that only a handful of people on a nearby street had lived there for 10 or more years. This, and a number of other observations made by Harris, led him to want to become a commissioner for the town of Bridgeville.

Having always had an eye and a heart for public service, Harris has approached this in a number of ways. During his time running as state representative, Harris took away an understanding that while it may be great to legislate things to govern an entire state, it is more important to help the people that live next door. 

“The Commission of Bridgeville is that opportunity to really help and impact the people that live next door to you, the people that live in walking distance from my house, the people I’m around every day,” Harris stated. Harris went on to say that he believes that people need representation at the local level more urgently than the state level, primarily due to people often feeling that they are not being heard. “There are 40 something representatives in Dover, and do people really know who they are? (People) know that they have a representative, but they don’t know how to readily get in contact with them or what they can do for them,” Harris said. 

Harris believes that he is capable of picking up the torch that Dr. Marlene Saunders, the former Commissioner of District 5, once held, and helping move the entire town forward. “It’s not about representing one district,” Harris stressed,“it’s about one region.” Harris admitted that he and Dr. Saunders had known each other for many years prior to his run for commissioner. 

Harris discussed the mutual respect between Dr. Saunders and himself and how they watched each other in the community, which led to a natural conversation between the two in regard to Dr. Saunders retiring from her commission seat. Harris originally expressed interest in running against Dr. Saunders back in 2022 before deciding that it was not the right time. When the opportunity arose in 2024, Harris went for it and became the new District 5 Commissioner. Although there has only been one commission meeting with Harris as a commissioner, he already has a number of ideas for the future, with a primary desire to be civil in the governing process. 

“We’re five different individuals, we will not always agree,” Harris said. “However, remaining civil and always keeping the best interests of the residents of the town of Bridgeville at heart, regardless of how we feel about decisions that are made (is necessary).” Harris mentioned that some things he would like to see in the town in the future are the return of activities for the youngest residents. “I’m a dad, I have young children ages one, four, and eight,” Harris explained. “So having things for my children to be able to do in town is important to me, as well as other children, but also sustainably growing the town so that the town exists when they’re adults.” 

Harris also spoke on his relationship with the other commissioners. Harris explained that he has known President Tomeski since he was in high school, having gone to school with his children and knowing him for the better part of 20 or more years. Harris also stated that he has had a chance to communicate with Commissioner Carey as well and looks forward to growing a relationship with the representatives of Heritage Shores. “Those collegial relationships will be important to representing the entire town of Bridgeville,” Harris said, “Not just one or two districts, but all five of them at the same time.” 

Beyond the commission, however, Harris has also felt welcomed in the town by joining the commissioners. “Having grown up in Bridgeville,” Harris explained, “I have witnessed some of the less than stellar race relationships that have happened over the years, so to be here now has been a great experience so far. People have been very welcoming and offering to help, that I would not have gotten had I been running for commissioner 25 years ago.” These relationships also feed into Harris’ desire for social equity when it comes to the town. “Social equity, diversity, we have to take all of these things into account,” said Harris, “because if we try to govern the town without an equity lens and without keeping a historical lens we’ll fall back to where we don’t want to be.” Harris applauded the work that has been done by the recent commissioners to help move Bridgeville forward. 

Harris stated that he is nervously hopeful for what the journey as a town commissioner has in store for him, and he is confident in not only his ability but the ability of the entire commission to continue to make progress and strengthen Bridgeville as a whole. Harris also addressed the people of Bridgeville, stating that “You don’t get to complain about things if you’re not willing to help form solutions; showing up at commission meetings, speaking out during citizens privilege, contacting your commissioners and contacting the town manager.” 

Harris then addressed the neighboring communities of Bridgeville. “Bridgeville is still on the rise,” Harris said. “Our goal is not to be Delaware’s front porch, we want to be the cream of the crop, the pride of Delaware, and I feel that this is the time that happens. So don’t sleep on little old Bridgeville because we’re doing great things.” 

Harris encouraged citizens to reach out if they are ever curious about decisions he makes as a commissioner.