DOVER – This is not a day to campaign. That was Jim Dodd’s take during Monday’s annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony.
Yet, considering that a lot of campaigning is just showing up, it certainly was going on.
All three people who want to be mayor of this historic town attended the parade, which included the high school band, fire trucks and military vehicles rumbling along Blackwell Street to Hurd Park for the traditional ceremony.
The June 6 Democratic primary is a three-way tussle between Mayor Carolyn Blackman, Ed Correa, a former alderman, and Dodd, a former mayor who narrowly lost reelection to Blackman in 2019 Dodd ran as an independent that year after a fall out with county Democratic leaders.
Now, he’s back running again as a Democrat.
Correa and Blackman used to be allies, but they had a falling out of their own. So, both are running.
Standard logic would suggest that Correa and Blackman will split the anti-Dodd vote, giving the former mayor a path back to town hall.
But you never know.
Dodd did just barely lose a one-on-one battle four years ago to Blackman, but that was in the general election. Dodd likely drew support from some Republicans, who can’t help him in a Democratic primary.
Republican registration notwithstanding, this remains a very “blue” town. No Republican filed to run for mayor this year, so the winner of the Democratic vote next week is likely going to be mayor.
As the parade “shaped up” off of Richards Avenue, all three candidates were plainly visible.
There are a number of “Bring Back Dodd” signs around town and even a billboard that suggests Dodd will “rescue” Dover, but Correa is not impressed.
“A lot of people don’t want him back,” Correa said of Dodd. He said he gets that message very clearly when he and his supporters go door-to-door. He said many of the Dodd signs are on properties where people do not vote or won’t vote for Dodd.
This is the old crack about “signs don’t vote.”
In a social media video, Correa, whose family came to town 24 years ago from Colombia, stresses his work as a community activist, noting that he pushed for such accomplished statewide goals as a $15 per hour minimum wage (that happens in 2024) and allowing undocumented individuals to get driver’s licenses. He says town officials need to be more transparent.
“We want to be a government that is connected to the people,” he said.
Talking about Blackman, Correa didn’t mince words.
He said voters turned to her as an alternative to Dodd, but “Blackman blew it.”
Blackman, who was just down the block, said she hopes voters will truly think about their choice. She said the pandemic put things on hold a bit, but that she hopes to continue the progress she says the town has made since she came into office.
In announcing her reelection, Blackman spoke of improving the town’s fiscal position by reducing debt and increasing the town’s reserve.
She also said town parks and fields have been upgraded.
What’s on the voters’ minds?
Blackman said it’s such “quality of life” issues like speeding and parking.
Dodd, who spent part of the parade riding in a truck adorned with a “God Bless America” sign, agreed about quality of life.
But he said it’s going in the wrong direction.
When he launched his campaign, Dodd lamented that conditions in town are deteriorating while taxes and water bills skyrocket A case in point:
Dodd said that in traveling around town it’s common to hear loud music blasting from cars and no one does anything about it. He also said there are a number of vacant stores, which he said hasn’t been a problem before.
“So you’re starting to see a decline,” he said. Dodd did not need to add the obvious; that is, he’s the guy who can fix things.
And then, the parade marched off with crowds along the sidewalk cheering and waving and the candidates waving back – a traditional rite of politics on a day when politics was forbidden.