Ed Butler is first to file for Seaford mayor's seat

See a photo on page 12

By Lynn R. Parks

After 19 years on the Seaford City Council, Ed Butler is running for mayor. He is the only candidate so far for the seat, which will be left vacant in March when current Mayor Dan Short finishes his fifth two-year term. Short, a Republican, is retiring as mayor to run for the state representative seat currently held by retiring Tina Fallon. Butler is serving his sixth three-year term. If he is elected mayor, the city council will appoint someone to fill his seat until the end of the term. Also up this year are the two council terms being served by Larry Miller and Grace Peterson. Miller planned to file this week. Peterson said on Monday that she had not yet decided whether to run for another term. Butler, who serves as electric commissioner, said that his experience with city government will help him if he is elected mayor. "With all the growth we are seeing, we have a bright future in Seaford," he said. "But that growth comes with many challenges." Among the problems the city is facing is its increasing power costs, he said. "Rising electric rates is not an easy problem to solve, and it will only get worse," he added. Butler, 69, is a native of Seaford and graduated from Seaford High School in 1954. He owns and operates Butler's Sewing Center, Seaford. He is a member of the Victory Tabernacle Church of God, Laurel. He and his wife Shirley have four children. Their son, Doug, Seaford, is part owner of Butler's Sewing Center and is chief of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department. Their daughters, Sandy Gregory, Seaford, Penny Mears, Newark, and Kelly Close, Newark, are all school teachers. The Butlers also have 11 grandchildren. Seaford's mayor is responsible for running the twice-weekly council meetings. The mayor votes only in the case of a tie, a rare occurrence on the five-member council, and serves as a voting member of the city's Board of Adjustment and Appeals.

By Ronald MacArthur

Included in this edition is the final column by Frank Calio - at least until he retires as the state's election commissioner in 2007. Over the past two weeks, Calio, 67 (a Democrat) of Laurel, has been the target of a movement by state Republicans questioning Calio's penning of a local column he has written in this newspaper for the past nine years. Calio has been the state's election commissioner since 2002. Judson Bennett of Lewes, who runs the Coastal Conservative Network, began circulating e-mails to media outlets and elected officials about Calio calling for his "immediate resignation" for "obvious attempts to influence voters" which in his opinion violated Title 15 of the Delaware Code relating to the office of the State Election Commissioner. (See a letter from Bennett on page 45.) In light of the information, Senate Minority Leader John C. Still III has written a letter to Delaware Attorney General Carl Denberg requesting a possible investigation. "Several of the articles may run afoul of our law(s) and/or abridge free speech protections provided by our state and federal constitutions. I seek your office's complete review and opinion of Mr. Calio's written opinions and a determination as to whether or not he has violated either the spirit and/or the letter of the law, and what actions you recommend." Title 15 reads: "No employee of the Office of the State Election Commissioner shall directly or indirectly use or seek to use his or her authority or official influence to control or modify the political action of another person or at anytime actively participate in any political activities or campaigns." Violation can result in a $500 fine and the forfeiture of the position of employment (74 Del. Laws, c.229). Janice Fitzsimmons, a public information officer in the state attorney general's office, said on Tuesday that when a request like this is made, the office reviews the information and makes a determination if a full investigation will be made. As of presstime, she could not confirm if a determination had been made. Calio said that he was somewhat surprised about the uprising surrounding the writing of his weekly column. "It's no secret that I write a column," he said. "All the legislators knew it. In fact, some of them talk to me about it." Calio, who has been involved with politics his entire life, knows the ins and outs of the political system. "This is politically motivated, there is no doubt about it. Judson Bennett wants to run for office again and he wants his name out there. He also blames me for the loss in the county council election. The recount was conducted by the court system not my office. Plus, the e-mails he has been circulating around with excerpts from my column are totally taken out of context. "People who know me, tell me that I give a balanced view in my columns," he added. "I've done no wrong." But, the veteran columnist decided it would be best to put the pen aside for a while. "I want a clean slate so I've stopped writing. I do not feel that I've influenced anybody to vote for anyone. My columns have always been educational - it's been that way ever since I started writing them," he said. "My goal when I took over this job in the elections department was to make elections fair and safe for everyone in Delaware and when I leave the office to leave it better than when I got here. It's very, very important to me," he added. He gets a little emotional when he talks about the importance of his job. "This is the greatest country in the world. I learned to appreciate how great it is from my father. And we have the greatest political and election system in the world and I'm proud to play a part in it," he said. Bryant Richardson, the president and publisher of Morning Star Publications, the owner of the Seaford Star and Laurel Star, has offered a forum for Calio's column at three different newspapers over the past 25 years. Besides the Stars, he has provided space for Calio at The Leader and State Register and the now-defunct Seaford Banner. "To be honest, I'm disappointed in the Republicans," he said. "With everything else going on and all the important issues that need attention in the state, it's amazing that this issue surfaces."

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