DEBORAH BENDER: Why I’m Running for Town Council


May 1, 2014

I am running for Town Council because I think it is time for a different approach to governance in Cape Charles. I became politically active during the past three years when I felt there was complete disregard by Town Council for my concerns about what happens here. After seeing the way citizens are treated at Council meetings, I decided to run for Town Council. My goal is to have a fiscally responsible, open government where all people are treated equally and fairly.

We have seen Cape Charles in the years of decline and are glad to see it coming back up. But much still needs to be done. I want to work to improve our water quality. Paying for water that you cannot drink is unacceptable. I intend to be a problem-solver, a listener, who is interested in the concerns of all the residents of Cape Charles.

I have lived in the Cape Charles area for 20 years, and in the Town of Cape Charles for the past eight years. My husband, Don, has lived here his whole life.  I operated a very successful dress shop on Mason Avenue, Scarlett’s Closet, for three years. I sold my shop just after the birth of my first grandson so that I could care for him when my daughter returned to work.

Regrettably, I feel the need to mention that as a result of my candidacy, my husband and I have been the targets of a smear campaign intended to discredit me. Unable to respond to my call for lower taxes, lower water bills, and lower spending, my enemies have circulated lies about my husband, claiming that he is a gay-basher and a violent, dangerous man. It is sad that anyone could stoop so low as to spread these lies, but perhaps even sadder that some people who don’t know my husband seem ready to believe them. First, as I said, my husband Don has lived here all his life, and has never committed a violent act. Second, Don and I have for years had a number of gay friends. They visit us in our home, and we are completely accepting of each other. We recognize that this is a diverse community and a diverse world, and we are comfortable with that.


I hope that anyone who has heard or read about the smear campaign will ask themselves why this has surfaced in the last weeks of my election campaign, when no such allegations were ever made over the past half-century my husband has lived here. If anyone would like to discuss this issue with me, please call me at 757-331-2806. I welcome the opportunity to clear the air.

In closing, I urge voters to focus on the real issues of the campaign. If you believe that your water bills are too high, your town taxes are too high, and town spending is too high, vote for Deborah Bender – because I share your concerns.

The Wave is providing every candidate in the May 6 elections the opportunity to answer the question “Why I’m Running.”
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CLICK for George Proto



11 Responses to “DEBORAH BENDER: Why I’m Running for Town Council”

  1. Butch Vest on May 1st, 2014 8:18 am

    After reading this commentary I was confused as to who was really running for council, Deborah or her husband Don. I also noticed that in one sentence she states that the water in town is not drinkable and she intends to fix it while the next paragraph she intends to cut our water bills, lower taxes and lower spending but she has never mentioned how she would accomplish any of these things. I for one am sick of all the empty promises from all politicians. If you want our votes then give us your honest plans on how you will accomplish what you promise. Sounds like a chicken in every pot!

  2. Joe Banks on May 1st, 2014 9:59 am

    I have never met Mrs. Bender, heard stories of her, and therefore have no bias for or against her. This candidate’s article has told me the following:
    1) Mrs. Bender INTENDS to be a problem solver. Is she not now?
    2)She used to sell clothing.
    3)She has unnamed enemies.
    4)Her husband is not violent.
    5)She has gay friends.
    6)She wants fiscally responsible government.
    7)She wants to improve water quality.

    I am in no way trying to be mean or insulting but I have just waded through a soap opera and have not read about any plan on SOLVING any of the issues you describe. My question to you, can you please describe, in detail, how you would improve the town’s water quality? I personally find it drinkable, but honestly, not very tasty.

  3. Susan Bauer on May 1st, 2014 10:58 pm

    Effective leaders are able to engage in respectful discourse with others and to occasionally compromise. This candidate’s frequent caustic diatribes against almost every elected official and employee of this town, and her myopic views on issues that divide our community, in my opinion, evidence her inability to effectively lead.

  4. Don Riley on May 2nd, 2014 8:58 am

    While everyone was doing their pile on Debbie Bender, she was out raising $10,000 for a single mother with a child who has cancer. That’s the kind of candidate I am voting for — with Heart and Soul, and smart to boot.

  5. Bruce Lindeman on May 2nd, 2014 9:24 am

    I’ve said this before in my comments to other articles and posts, but what this town needs is to work together to solve its problems. It seems to me that this candidate is more concerned with choosing sides and tearing the town apart. Her blaming the “come-heres” for the supposed town’s demise, while herself being a come-here from New Jersey, is disturbing to say the least. I doesn’t matter to me if her husband was born/raised here. He’s not running for office. And, as it’s been pointed out before, if not for those come-heres investing in this town when it was down and out, we’d still be driving by crack house after crack house with our windows rolled up and car doors locked. We have friends in town who don’t even own a key to their front door. It’s unthinkable to imagine such a thing before the town’s re-birth. What I want in my town elected officials is a dediction to problem solving and working together to do so — not alienating those who you disagree with. Mrs. Bender has some good ideas. I just do not agree with her approach, and I believe her communication skills, based on what I’ve read here on the Wave, are combative, to put it mildly. I’m all for change. New ideas, capabilities, as well as the passion to lead are all good. Uncivil discourse and division are not.

  6. Deborah Bender on May 2nd, 2014 12:04 pm

    Bruce — Just for starters, I have been on the Eastern Shore since 1976. I am not from New Jersey, I was raised in Delaware. I moved to New Jersey my freshman year of high school and moved to the Shore when I was 23. All that you really know about me was that I fought the underhanded sale of our historic school. I am sorry if that offended you. I was fighting for the school so that this town’s children and grandchildren would have an indoor gym to learn various sports in the winter.

    If you want to learn anything else about me, ask your neighbors the Doughertys. I play MahJong with Joann a lot.

  7. Dana Lascu on May 2nd, 2014 1:06 pm

    Ms. Bender is no slick politician, but I have never heard her blame the “come-heres” for the town’s demise. The negative discourse is in the preceding comments, rather than Deborah’s. Whatever happened with the “Get up, stand up for your rights” idealism? Do we simply disown someone because she dares to ask the right questions? With government so sacrosanct, we could potentially encourage every wasteful snake-oil salesman into a perpetual destructive dictatorship. Deborah, please continue to loudly stand up for our rights!

  8. Wayne Creed on May 2nd, 2014 6:45 pm

    Not sure about the drinking water — like Joe, I’ve gotten used to it, and now just call it good ol’ Cape Charles water. Water is not the reason I’m voting for Ms. Bender. A couple of years ago, when Mayor Sullivan, Joan Natali, and Chris Bannon emerged into light of day after several months in the dank, seedy back rooms where (as a nod to old time 1920s croneyism), they had negotiated the Echelon deal, I immediately thought this scenario would be shoved right down our throats and nobody in this town would have the guts to stand up to this abomination. Debbie Bender proved me way wrong. Since that time, I have come to know Ms. Bender very well. If you’re looking for someone to sugarcoat it for you, Ms. Bender is the wrong person. Always honest, always a straight shooter, agree or not, you can always believe that what she is telling you is not spin, not fluff, but pure Bender. It was through tenacity, grit, and an ultimate belief in what’s right that she was almost single handedly able to run off a Mayor who had completely lost touch with the ordinary people, and had instead gone all in big in the service of the developer class.

    Okay, we know Bender’s a fighter, but anyone that has been around her for any amount of time also knows just how much she does for charitable organizations in this area. Her support of Cape Charles Christian School, through fund raising and volunteerism has been an integral part of that support infrastructure.

    Is she the most polished politician, with the slickest platform? Heck no, but in the end, this is what we love about Ms. Bender. It’s a character thing, right? When it comes to Cape Charles, she will always have your back, and she will fight to ensure that the playing field is fair and meets the needs of all our citizens. Isn’t that what we really want — someone who won’t back down in the face of corruption and croneyism? There will always be the haters and apologists (you know who you are), whose greasy self-interests will lead them to strike out and try and smear Ms. Bender. Let them. Debbie just wears their insults like a badge of honor. Go girl!

  9. Daniel Burke on May 3rd, 2014 1:49 pm

    My wife and I are “come heres” — we bought a house in the historic district in 2011. I had to laugh when I read [above] the claim that Don and Debbie Bender are anti-come heres. Here are some facts:

    I bought a used boat and took it to Phil’s boat yard to have it checked out. The only thing I knew about boats at that time was that I wanted one. So I asked Phil if I could ask his mechanic (Don Bender) to take me and my boat on a test ride. Phil said I could ask but he doubted Don could help as he was working six days a week. Imagine my surprise when this relative stranger (Don) called and said, “You wanna take that boat out?” We went all over the place that evening, including up to Eyre Hall (and there aren’t many watermen that could make that trip). I must have driven Don nuts because he even had to show me how to start the boat. But If I did, he didn’t show it. Instead of making me feel like a fool he just drilled me in the fundamentals, which help me to this day. When we got back to the dock I tried to slip Don a hundred dollar bill. “Nah, no thanks, we don’t do that down here. We don’t mind helping.” He wouldn’t take the money. Men who will turn down a hundred dollar bill are few and far between.

    Some time later my phone rings again and it’s Debbie Bender. “Dan I came across some nice shrimp and we’d like you and your wife to come for dinner.” We had plans with another couple to go to Aqua that night, so I had to say sorry Deb but we already have plans with another couple for dinner. “Oh don’t worry about that Dan, bring them with you.” I’ve been to some of the finest restaurants in the world on an unrestricted expense account, but I have never seen shrimp like that. None of us had. The minute you cleared your plate Debbie was piling on more of these gigantic shrimp.

    So for those of you who choose to slam people because they care intensely about this town — say what you will, but don’t ever say Don and Debbie are against come-heres. That is so not true. They were among about a half dozen “been-heres” who really made us feel welcome and didn’t ask for anything in return.

    I apologize to Don and Debbie as this is probably way too personal for them for me to share. But one final thought: If the Russians ever come marching down Route 13, I hope Don and Debbie are in my foxhole.

  10. Joe Banks on May 3rd, 2014 8:30 pm

    Having stated in an earlier comment that I don’t know Mrs. Bender or her husband, it is nice to read such nice stories about them.

  11. Don Riley on May 5th, 2014 7:36 pm

    Joe Banks — It is nice to read your kind comments on Ms. Bender. When it comes taxes, water bills, and bad town government, she is strictly business. I know — I attend the monthly town meetings. Hope to see you at one of the meetings in the near future.