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Dover City Council candidates seek to address public safety

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Residents of Dover’s first district return to the polls for a special election Tuesday to pick a new city council member.

Council person Matthew Lindell resigned in September after announcing his family’s move out of the first district.

District residents are familiar with filling vacancies. They held a special election in August 2020 after Tanner Polce left. Gerald Rocha now has that seat.

Two candidates are running this time, both focusing on public safety, but with different approaches.

Interview with Julia Pillsbury
Listen to a full interview with Dover City Council candidate Julia Pillsbury

Julia Pillsbury, who unsuccessfully ran for State Insurance Commissioner last year, says the Dover police face too much scrutiny to effectively do their job.

“There’s a small minority that are a problem,” she says. “But I think we’re taking that small minority and we’re trying to paint a broad brush over the entire police force.”

Mental health clinician Brandy Walker says focusing on the root causes of poverty and lack of cultural enrichment should be a priority.

“If people are only exposed to one way of life, then that’s kind of what they follow. And so for me; more resources just have to be provided to expose our residents to different things,” Walker says.

According to the Dover Police Department, violent crime rates have gone up in recent years, but fell in 2020.

Full interview with Brandy Walker
Listen to a full interview with Dover City council candidate Brandy Walker

Both also have ideas on breathing life into a downtown that’s had a hard time keeping businesses open.

Walker, who owns a mental health clinic downtown, envisions a stronger connection with the new downtown campus of Delaware State University to attract new customers.

“Depending on what businesses or things of that nature come down to downtown — a lot of that is gonna be particularly of interest to the college population,” she says.

Pillsbury, a pediatrician and 30 year resident, has a unique idea; turning part of Lockerman street into a pedestrian mall.

“I think we could develop it — and if we did it right, it could become a place that people come to visit. And come to shop in,” Pillsbury says.

First district residents can vote from 7am to 8pm at the Dover Elks lodge on Tuesday November 16th.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.