‘Something’s gotta change’ – Dover Council want local government reforms
DOVER (WJER) (February 22, 2023) – Council members are suggesting regular drug testing for city employees, changes to the mayor’s job description, and even an overhaul of city government.
The seven-member panel wants to crack down on political corruption in the wake of former longtime mayor Richard Homrighausen’s permanent ban from public service for theft in office.
Council members claim that’s just one of many examples of questionable conduct from the mayor’s office in recent years.
“I don’t know if there are laws available, I don’t know if we can make laws, but something’s gotta be talked about and something’s gotta change,” said Councilman Kevin Korns.
Council members allege Homrighausen had city employees solicit campaign contributions while on the clock and awarded city contracts to vendors who donated to his campaigns.
“Did they get the contract because they were [donating] or did they feel required to give a donation to get a contract?” Korns asked.
Councilman John Correll wants the city to make sure future mayors don’t grant access to city business to people who aren’t employed by Dover. Council members say Homrighausen let his family members participate in government operations.
“His son. His wife. That’s not right,” Correll said, pointing out an incident where Homrighausen’s wife, Linda, was allowed into Council chambers to look through documents. “If you’re going to have access to something in this room that’s pertaining to us, you should have to go through us. You shouldn’t be able to just walk in and see what the hell is back there.”
Council members say their claims are backed up by a 2021 investigation into Homrighausen’s administration. It’s more than 400 pages of documents, sworn testimonies, and other records.
Councilwoman Gina Space Monday said with so many issues, Dover should switch to a charter form of government.
“I feel like the best way to tackle them is to look at a charter,” said Space, who is running for city law director in the Democrat primary in May.
Recently appointed Mayor Shane Gunnoe said the charter creation process takes about two years.
Monday’s meeting was a brainstorming session. Discussions will continue at future meetings.