The city of Seaford reviewed the updated language of draft changes to Section 7 of the city of Seaford Charter that would permit artificial domestic entities, including but not limited to corporations, partnerships, trusts, and limited liability companies, in the state of Delaware the ability to vote in municipal elections.
Seaford Solicitor Daniel Griffith presented the updated changes to the Charter of Seaford Section 7, Manner of Holding Elections. This return to council is the issue of allowing businesses and artificial entities to vote in municipal elections. Griffith said the language was changed to reflect the following suggestions from the March 14 session.
1. Businesses must be in good standing
2. There is one person, one vote no matter how many businesses you own.
3. The entities may use Power of Attorney, corporate resolution, or authorization affidavit duly executed to cast the vote.
These changes must go before the General Assembly for approval.
Griffith and City Manager Charles Anderson explained that artificial entities are any organization that owns property in city of Seaford regardless of structure. Councilman James King inquired, “Can I give someone the authority to vote as a representative by one of the methods mentioned?” Griffith explained that the city is not involved in how the person would be appointed to vote but would be in the same order of the business in their operating agreement. However, Councilman King indicated if a business owner does not own the property the entity is not permitted to vote in the election. Griffith confirmed that renting/leasing a property does not permit a vote and explained that the purpose of the “line being drawn” is because of the difficulty a city may have in identifying the lease holder or if it is valid or current at the time of the voting.
Griffith indicated it may create a lot of man hours to validate leases and challenges. Griffith also indicated that he met with Fenwick Island’s solicitor and reviewed the charter with the one being presented to council which are very similar.
Councilman King said he believes a person should not be penalized due to the structure of their business. King confirmed that the changes make voting available to both residential and commercial. Anderson said the research of Seaford indicated there are 236 entities that would potentially be able to vote and reiterated it is one person one vote.
Councilman Jose Santos said he is concerned because he does not believe this is for the people and eventually cast a “no” vote for the charter changes. Councilman King voted no and said his reason is because he believes it will be difficult to manage with the language written. He added he believes it will open doors to voter fraud and does not like additional confusion in the proposed changes.
Councilman Dan Henderson, who made the motion to approve the changes to the charter as presented, and Councilman Orlando Holland, who seconded the motion, both were “yes” votes. Mayor David Genshaw had to vote because of the 2-2 tie (Councilman Matt MacCoy was absent) and he voted in favor, moving the proposed changes to the General Assembly.
Councilman King said he wanted it noted that the mayor is the person who brought this charter change to council and now had the tie breaker vote for a motion he brought to council. If approved by the General Assembly the charter will adopt the changes.
City Manager Charles Anderson presented to council the purchase of a soda ash metering pump for the 534 Water Treatment facility, which was built in 1993. The equipment with two wells is critical for domestic water production. The funding is through the Water Capital Reserves and cost is approximately $17,000. The motion passed, 4-0.
Anderson presented to council that Seaford is the owner of the antique fire engine #1 in the fire museum. The maintenance of equipment revealed an issue with the radiator. The original amount to repair it was $5,400, however, when the vendor began work and discovered the complexity of the work, he reached out to another vendor for assistance. The new cost is $9,500. The engine is important to Seaford and it is used in parades. Councilman King said he wanted the public to understand the significance and importance and history of the fire truck. Anderson explained that Seaford museum houses the engine as the first mechanical equipment from 1919 and is a very special piece to Seaford firefighting history, “It has been off road for three years and would like it returned to be enjoyed by the public.” The repair by Industrial Radiator Works in Washington, Pa. was approved, 4-0.