Anti-Dodd Dick Codey Going to Bat for Blackman in Dover Mayoral Tilt

Dover mayoral candidate Carolyn Blackman

DOVER – Dick Codey was a bit nostalgic about journeying here years ago to visit a gin mill known as the

Dick Codey
Dick Codey

Do Drop Inn.

“And I did ‘drop in,’ ” the state senator said.

But on this night last week, Codey was more interested in contemporary town politics than reliving past drinking escapades. The watering hole Codey once frequented near the Dover-Randolph border is now the Ashirwad Palace and it was the scene the other night of a fundraiser for Dover mayoral candidate Carolyn Blackman and her team of aldermen.

Blackman is the Democratic candidate, so on one hand it’s no surprise Codey would be supporting her. Then again. Dover is not in Codey’s 27th District.

What gives?

Seems like Codey is no fan of James Dodd, Dover’s current mayor, who also happens to be a Democrat. Dodd, however, is seeking reelection as an independent, which can be a heavy lift, even if one considers the mayor’s name recognition around town.

“I want to beat him,” Codey said of Dodd.

Codey said he and the mayor had a run-in awhile back when the state senator came to town to check out conditions at a veterans’ home. Codey does this sort of thing often.

More than that, Codey told the crowd that Dodd is not a real Democrat, noting that the mayor backed Chris Christie’s gubernatorial bid in 2013.

This needs some explaining.

Dodd did back Christie, but let’s face it, he was hardly alone. Many Democrats backed Christie or at least did nothing to help Democrat Barbara Buono. Some may recall Buono made that clear on election night when she said she was prepared to take one for the team, but then found out there wasn’t t much of a team.

Still, Codey, said of the team he is backing, “We are the only Democrats on the ballot.”

This has the potential to be a nasty race. Political tensions in town have simmered for some time. Public meetings often include an exchange of insults among both the mayor and the audience and the mayor and fellow board members.  Dodd a year or so ago created a website in which – to put it mildly – he suggests some of his opponents are a bit unsavory.

Signs around town seeking support for the mayor say, “Dover means business.”

The apparent upshot is that the mayor has done a good job trying to foster redevelopment in a town that by Morris County standards is on the lower end of the economic spectrum. A key piece of that is a 214-unit residential development near the train station.

The Blackman team isn’t so sure about that. Ed Correa, the chair of the town’s Democratic committee, questions if the new development would attract commuters, noting that Manhattan is more than an hour away by train, And if it attracts families, that could tax the school system. he said.

Judging from the bad blood of the recent past, however, you get the impression this contest is going to be more about personalities than anything else.

One case in point is an incident last year when the mayor apparently cursed at Blackman on the street. The Blackman team will tell you the specific day and time – Nov. 4, about 4:30 p.m.

Blackman, who has served for years with Dodd on the governing body, says they used to get along, but that trouble began when she disagreed with the mayor.

Months ago, the mayor said he knows he won’t be mayor forever, but that his opponents “are not the people” to take over the town.

Running as an independent is never easy, given the fact you have no built-in political base. Then again, Dodd is a veteran mayor who gets personally involved in many aspects of town life – from fishing derbies to senior citizen functions.

But Correa, mindful of the ongoing political feud, observes that the mayor is popular, “but not for the right reason.”

That’s to be determined.

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