Friday, May 16, 2014

Closing a Chapter: The Lewes City Council Election

I had the following letter to the editor published in the Cape Gazette today.

I want to say “thank you” to all those who supported me in the Lewes City Council election. I lost the election, but gained new friends and learned great lessons.

Congratulations to Bonnie Osler and Rob Morgan on their victories. I’m confident our new council will work well with our new Mayor and continue the Lewes tradition of community service. I have no regrets.

I owe particular thanks to Barbara Vaughan, Nadine Wick and Carolyn Quinn for taking me in hand and pushing me when I needed to be pushed. Thanks also to John Mateyko for being so generous with his thoughts. We don’t agree on everything, but we share a passion for the city. And thank you to Marti D’Erasmo for challenging my opinions with a steady, clear-eyed honesty.

Thank you as well to those who wrote letters and hosted my few campaign signs. And thanks to all those whose doors I knocked on for sharing their thoughts, concerns and questions. Thank you to all who voted, no matter for whom. Voting is our most important right.

I look forward to continuing to serve the city on the Planning Commission.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Election Results, Lewes City Council

The bottom line: I was not elected. I lost my race for City Council, but I had an interesting time, learned a great deal, and met some very nice people.

I also got to see my youngest child cast her first vote in an election where I was a candidate. That's pretty cool.

I remain Chair of the Lewes Planning Commission, with some big challenges ahead.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mike Mahaffie: City Council Candidate

Lewes Lighthouse SignWelcome, Lewes voters. Please use this web site to get to know me. I want your vote. You need to know who I am and what I stand for. I wrote here regularly between 2004 and early last year.  There are many thoughts; feel free to browse.

Here is a list of posts directly related to the 2014 Lewes City Council Election:
Then spend some time, if you like, with a collection of links to thoughts about Lewes from the history of this blog.  Particularly, remembrances of former mayors George HP Smith and Al Stango, as well as a memorial to Howard Seymor.  And, you can learn why I've recently changed my look (spoiler: community theater).

Questions? Please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail: mmahaffie@blogspot.com.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There are no easy answers, but there is a path forward and a way to find solutions

I've talked with many Lewes residents over the last few weeks. I've heard their concerns and the issues that are most important to them. None of these issues can or should be fixed with simple solutions. To sustain the Lewes we want, we need to work with stakeholders within and outside our borders. We have to find common ground and build solutions together.

I have the knowledge and experience -- and the connections and respect from state and local leaders -- to help Lewes achieve that goal.

Lewes voters watch development in and around the city with concern. They worry about the Lewes Public Library, where and how it will grow, and what will be our role in its future. Voters are concerned about amplified music and the city's noise ordinance. They want to strike a balance between our role as a retail, dining and cultural center and our tradition of quiet nights.

None of these issues are simple. None have a "black and white" solution. There's no single law that controls any of these issues. Each will require City Council members with local and regional experience and connections.

My professional career has prepared me for this role. For most of the last 25 years, I have worked at the center of diverse groups of agencies and levels of government, looking for common ground and goals. I know how to work with all stakeholders. I know how to understand their needs, balance their concerns, and bring them together.

My 15 years on the Planning Commission has prepared me to hear all sides of issues in Lewes. I know where we have been, and I have learned the lessons of mistakes and successes in our past. I understand what we can accomplish using our ordinances, and where we must work harder to solve problems before they come before a body such as the planning commission.

I can make a real difference on City Council. I have the knowledge and experience you need. All I need is your vote.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Basic Issues in the Lewes City Council Election

The Cape Gazette posed a set of issue-related questions to me and my opponents in preparation for the May 10 Lewes City Council election. The answers are published in the May 2, 2014 edition of the Cape Gazette and on the paper's web site.

I've republished my answers, as submitted to the paper, in a series of issue-specific blog posts:
  • Educational and work background - My training and work experience in government in Delaware make me the right person, at this time, for Lewes. I know land use planning. I know the governments and agencies with whom we must partner to meet the challenges ahead.
  • Should Lewes hire a planner? - We should certainly try out the services of a planning professional and seek a staff planner if it works well. I am the right person to bring that planner on board and support her in her duties. 
  • What should be the City's role with the Lewes Public Library? - We host the library. Our community identity is closely tied to it. We must always be a partner, and I have the experience to carry on that partnership and make it work for the city. I will make sure that we don't carry the load - financial or otherwise - alone.
  • How would you solve the Lewes Beach Parking Problem? - There's no quick-fix. We will have to be innovative and we will have to do a very good job of communicating with the residents of the beach and those who want to visit the beach. Most of my professional career has been spent in coordination and communication.
  • What makes Lewes such a special place? - Our people and the history we share with each other and with the generations that went before combine to make Lewes the special place that she is. We can maintain that spirit, if we work together and respect and value each others' contributions.
Here's the bottom line. The main issues that face the city of Lewes now and into the future all require a strong knowledge of the city, the county and the state. They require experience in bringing together leaders in Delaware to work towards common goals.

I have that knowledge, based on my nearly three decades as a Lewes resident and homeowner and my 15 years in the Lewes Planning Commission. And I have that experience as well, having worked in intergovernmental coordination involving state agencies, all three counties, and the 57 municipalities in Delaware.

Cape Gazette Questions Series: Lewes is a Special Place

The Cape Gazette sent a series of questions to each of the candidates for Lewes City Council for publication in the May 2 edition.

What makes Lewes such a special place?

Lewes is a city of bustle and change, yet it maintains a quiet, historic charm. We’ve maintained our relationship to the ocean and the bay. We have active days, yet our nights are peaceful.

Our retail sector includes independent shops and restaurants that are becoming too rare elsewhere. Second Street is home to innovative entrepreneurs and restaurateurs.

As the oldest city in this state, we have inherited a unique mix of housing styles. Our neighborhoods range from compact colonial grid-style to modern suburban communities.

The people of Lewes have an energy that combines wide life-experience with a strong interest in community. You need only attend a meeting of the Council, the Planning Commission, or other city committee to see the engagement of Lewes' people.

Cape Gazette Questions Series: Parking on Lewes Beach

The Cape Gazette sent a series of questions to each of the candidates for Lewes City Council for publication in the May 2 edition.

How would you solve the parking problem on Lewes Beach?

It will be a challenge to develop new parking areas to serve the beach. There's not room for new large-scale parking lots. But we can look for opportunities to create a collection of smaller parking areas.

It's time to revisit the layout and right-of-way of the streets on the beach side. We can find more parking space within the right-of-way that we now have.

At the same time, we have to manage our street parking to balance the needs of our visitors with the rights of property-owners.

I believe it is possible, through improved communication and an honest debate, to find that balance. And we should continue to look for innovative solutions such as a shuttle.

Cape Gazette Questions Series: Future Growth in and Around Lewes

The Cape Gazette sent a series of questions to each of the candidates for Lewes City Council for publication in the May 2 edition.

The proposed Highland Heights and Point Farm communities are very controversial among residents. What is your vision for future growth in and around Lewes?

We know we cannot stop growth. People want to be here. We wanted to be here. We have to remember why we found Lewes so attractive and work to guide future development into a similar pattern.

This means supporting a mixture of different residential densities, low-level industry, open space, and local-scale retail and restaurants.

We can allow for growth where it is appropriate. We can use our city codes to minimize environmental, traffic, flooding and other risks.

 We will work with developers to maintain the intimate scale of the City and encourage pedestrian and bicycle connections. This will require regular updates of city codes and a willingness to seek out advice and input where ever we can find it.

Cape Gazette Questions Series: The Lewes Public Library

The Cape Gazette sent a series of questions to each of the candidates for Lewes City Council for publication in the May 2 edition.

As planning and fundraising for the new library continues, what do you think the city's role should be once the new facility is complete?

The City should always be a partner with the Lewes Public Library. Though the library serves a “Greater Lewes” region, our city is physical and cultural host to the library. And the library is a key component of Lewes’ character and civic life.

 On City Council, I will find ways to support the library and ensure that it remains a viable part of our community. The library should continue to be a focal point around which we build our relationship with people who live in the Lewes region.

But we can't carry the load alone. I will ensure that it s always a well-balanced partnership.

Cape Gazette Questions Series: Should Lewes Hire a Planner?

The Cape Gazette sent a series of questions to each of the candidates for Lewes City Council for publication in the May 2 edition.

Where do you stand on hiring a planner, whether full time or on a consulting basis? How will this individual affect Lewes?

I support the Council’s decision to bring in a planner to help manage the complex issues we face. It is wise to start with an “on-call” planner. This will let us learn how a planner will best work with city staff and our governmental structure.

If this approach shows promise, I believe we should continue to move towards a full-time planner.

It is important to remember, though, that having a planner on staff will not immediately solve any of the issues we face. A well-trained planning professional will be a valuable asset to the city, but will only be part of a larger team. We have to continue to work on improving our management of this city.