Challenger Marianne LaSalle will be running against incumbents David Letterman and Mary Ellen DeBenedictis for two seats on Clayton Town Council in the election Tuesday, April 24 from 2-7 p.m., at Town Hall, 414 Main St.

The Clayton Town Council election will be held Tuesday, April 24 from 2-7 p.m., at Town Hall, 414 Main St.

Three candidates have filed to run for two seats. Challenger Marianne LaSalle will be running against incumbents David Letterman and Mary Ellen DeBenedictis, with the top two candidates each winning a two-year term.

Absentee ballots may be picked up at the town office at Town Hall up to noon on the day before the election and must be returned before the polls close April 24.

For more information, see the website www.clayton.delaware.gov.

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Mary Ellen DeBenedictis

AGE: 71

YEARS LIVED IN CLAYTON: 71

OCCUPATION: Retired as a purchasing agent from Dover Air Force Base with 33 civilian years.

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: Secretary of Clayton Town Council for four years; member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC); Secretary, DEMEC Board of Directors; President of the Clayton Fire Company Auxiliary and also a past vice president and past treasurer of the Clayton Fire Company Auxiliary.

What are the two most important issues in Clayton and how would you propose dealing with them?

Updating our aging infrastructure and managing the town's growth without adverse effect on the town.

Why should residents vote for you?

I have been here all of my life. I am here for its citizens and care very much for the history of this town and also for its future.

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Marianne LaSalle

AGE: 59

YEARS LIVED IN CLAYTON: 7

OCCUPATON: Non-denominational minister/wedding officiant; currently disabled

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: 30 years combined experience in managerial experience in insurance, retail, and sole-proprietorship.

What are the two most important issues in Clayton and how would you propose dealing with them?

The two most important issues in Clayton are:

1. The revitalization of Main Street/transportation.

At present, there are a number of vacant storefronts on Main Street. There is so much potential for new and existing businesses to offer the residents of Clayton. As I was introducing myself to my neighbors who reside in the surrounding blocks of Main Street, many have expressed to me how they would love to see more businesses occupy Main Street. I couldn’t agree with them more. Perhaps, the Town of Clayton can attract new businesses to occupy Main Street is to offer a tax credit or some form of incentive. Detailed explanation of how a business would qualify for a tax credit or incentive program would be discussed at a future Town Council meeting. Upon entering the Town of Clayton, visitors’ first glimpse of our quaint town is Main Street. While we do have a few new and prospering businesses along this street, the many vacant storefronts, some which are in need of repair, warrant first time visitors and potential new home buyers that Clayton is a rundown little town and can very well leave a lasting unwelcoming first impression. I firmly believe our Main Street can thrive with more successful businesses and leave a welcoming imprint on those who are passing through or who are looking to make Clayton their home.

In the meantime, transportation was also a major concern of many seniors and disabled residents. The closest shopping at present within walking distance is Family Dollar. However, many seniors and disabled residents aren’t able to make this journey carrying bags or pushing a cart. Glenwood shopping center in Smyrna is the heart of major grocery, pharmacy, etc., to Clayton residents. An ideal mode of transportation would be a shuttle service that would pick up passengers near the Post Office on Railroad Avenue in Clayton and run along Main Street/Smyrna Clayton Boulevard to the Glenwood shopping center. The shuttle would be similar in size as a regular paratransit bus and most likely be allowed to drop passengers off at the shopping center and pick them up. It doesn't have to run every day. A small carfare each way would pay for its expenses. A few times a day/week would definitely be helpful to residents who don't have any mode of transportation especially for the elderly and disabled who do not qualify for regular paratransit. A shuttle running from Smyrna to Clayton would also benefit the Town of Clayton’s commerce, once businesses open on Main Street.

2. On my walks with my dog Albie, I have met many other pet owners, who have expressed a strong desire for Clayton to open a dog park. There is no place for our furry friends to be able to run around and get exercise without having a leash on them. Many residents have stated, they would love to see the park on Smyrna Avenue converted into a dog park. Unfortunately, this park which was intended for small children and their families, has become an attractive hangout for non-Clayton teens who have turned this memorial park into a haven of graphic graffiti, strong use of foul language and littering. Perhaps, this park can be turned back into a beautiful memorial as it was intended for responsible pet owners and their beloved dogs. One way to keep the park from unwanted disruptive behavior would be to install a higher fence with a lock which the Clayton Police can open at dawn and close at dusk. For added security, motion sensors and high resolution lighting should be installed to deter vandalism and assuring the residents on Smyrna Avenue their right to a peaceful life without wanton behavior.

Why should residents vote for you?

Residents should vote for me because I listen to their concerns and am sympathetic to their wants and needs. I especially would like to improve conditions for our seniors and disabled residents. As a member of Town Council, I strongly believe I will make a positive difference for all residents while instilling an even greater sense of pride in our community!

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David W. Letterman

AGE: 59

YEARS LIVED IN CLAYTON: 30

OCCUPATION: Self employed; also work at Walmart distribution center.

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: I have served on town council since 2010 as secretary, treasurer, chairman of the Police Committee, Budget Committee, and Equipment Committee, and also as mayor. Prior to that I served 15 years on the Planning and Zoning Committee as chairman, where I was instrumental in producing the first Comprehensive Plan which was the first in the state and a model for other municipalities. I also served as Election Board chairman. I currently sit on the executive committee for the State League of Local Governments. I am also a member of the Moose Lodge and the American Legion.

What are the two most important issues in Clayton and how would you propose dealing with them?

Our budget and infrastructure are two very important issues that affect nearly every aspect of our town operations and the community as a whole. My first year on council we were faced with a budget deficit and we made difficult decisions to cut personnel and cut to the minimum all purchases, along with other cost cutting measures. These measures resulted in a balanced budget and no tax increases. That attitude in dealing with the budget exists now as much as it did then. We have continued since then to provide quality service to our residents at a reasonable cost with only one tax increase since 1989. We are currently in the process of again reducing the electric PCA rate for an additional savings on electric bills.

Our aging infrastructure is constantly being upgraded for example the electric distribution system, to include mapping and upgrades to water and sewer that are not noticed, and street, alley and sidewalk upgrades all over town in the last few years that are obvious.

Why should residents vote for you?

In addition to the accomplishment mentioned above, we have been able to upgrade the town’s computer programs and systems as well provide a new Public Works facility to provide better service for our residents and a safer work environment for our employees. During the last two years Clayton has been rated the number one safest town in Delaware, providing a good place to raise a family. In addition to what has been accomplished in the short term view, I would like your vote to allow me to be involved with the current 10-year Comprehensive Plan update, that will guide the direction of our community for years to come to ensure we maintain the small town atmosphere we currently enjoy, with the possibilities of big city conveniences.

Being involved in the community gives me the ability to shape the future for our children and grandchildren and guarantee that when they take over we leave them in better shape than what we found. When you vote, even in small local elections, you are setting the direction you wish the town to go. I feel that we as a town are moving in the right direction and would like to continue to ensure we remain a town other communities copy for an example of responsible government.