May 6, 2014

Unofficial results for Town of Cape Charles May 6 municipal elections:

Total voters – 419

(E) George Proto – 264
Frank Wendell – 149

(E) Chris Bannon – 258
(E) Joan Natali – 251
(E) Charles “Sambo” Brown – 238
Lynn Mitchell-Fields – 168
David Gay – 150
Deborah Bender – 129

(E) = Elected



sample ballot

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  • Vote Tuesday, May 6, at Trinity United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 410 Tazewell Ave.
  • Polls open 6 a.m. and close 7 p.m.
  • Bring any one of the following ID: Local Voter Registration card, Social Security card, valid Virginia driver’s license, government ID, or ID card with photo issued by employer.

EDITORIAL: Time for a New Team


May 5, 2014

Although the ballot for Tuesday’s municipal elections in Cape Charles contains eight names, deciding whom to vote for is not as complicated as it might appear. There are really only two teams – the old team and the new team. All a voter has to decide is whether to keep the old team or elect the new team.

True, of the eight candidates, only two of them are running for re-election: Town Council members Chris Bannon and Joan Natali. They form half of the old team. The other half is composed of George Proto for mayor and Charles “Sambo” Brown for Council. But the only reason those two are running is because the Sullivans, Dora and Mike, decided not to run.

While it can be argued that Mr. Proto and Mr. Brown have very different styles from Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, it is a certainty that neither of them would have run against the Sullivans. They are, in fact, Mayor Sullivan’s hand-picked successors.

The new team is a very different story: each of the four candidates is running because they are alarmed by the direction the old team is taking the town. Understanding that in a democracy the only sure way to effect change is at the ballot box, they are opposing the incumbents and their designated successors.

The new team is Frank Wendell for mayor and Deborah Bender, David Gay, and Lynn Mitchell-Fields for Council. Each has his or her own ideas, but on the over-arching issues they agree: town spending is out of control, as are town utility bills. The town is borrowing like there is no tomorrow, and a number of full-time residents who work here for a living are moving out of town to avoid the extortive water bills and high taxes. [Read more…]


EDITORIAL: Frank Wendell for Mayor


May 4, 2014

Cape Charles residents owe a metaphorical vote of thanks to every candidate running for election on Tuesday, because in most of the rest of Northampton County — Cheriton, Eastville, Nassawadox, and Belle Haven — candidates for mayor are unopposed. Only in Cape Charles and Exmore do voters have a choice.

Dora Sullivan also ran unopposed eight years ago when she was first elected mayor. So we see the contrast of this year’s political contest as a healthy sign of democracy in action. We’re also encouraged by the fact that both mayoral candidates are fine exemplars of Cape Charles – both are upstanding citizens willing to expend a great deal of time and effort in the name of public service.

We believe that either candidate for mayor would serve to the best of his ability, and would uphold the principles of honesty and fairness. That said, we cannot vote for both of them; we must make a choice. And we believe there are overwhelming reasons to vote Frank Wendell for mayor of Cape Charles.

1. Frank Wendell has a long, outstanding record of public service to this, his hometown. As a young man he served on Town Council for 12 years before “retiring” to devote more time to his business and family. Then, two years ago, outraged by the secret plans to divest the town’s school and auditorium, basketball court, and parkland, he returned to public service, winning a seat on Town Council.

2. Mr. Wendell has never shrunk from fighting the good fight. Almost 20 years ago he led the opposition to County plans to permit a maximum-security federal prison to be built nearby. Dickie Foster subsequently stated that if the prison had been constructed, he never would have built Bay Creek.

3. As a current Town Council member, Mr. Wendell was the only one to recognize the foolhardiness of encouraging commercial development on Route 13 by extending a sewer pipe from the town’s wastewater plant. Other Council members have admitted that Rayfield’s Pharmacy could go out of business if the town facilitates competition on the highway, but they want to go ahead anyway. They seem not to understand that while the town has no legal control over what happens on the highway, it has the power of the pipe.

4. Likewise, Mr. Wendell is the only Council member who understands the importance of negotiating with developers to ensure the town’s best interests. When a developer requested exemption from timely payment of utility fees and other town code requirements, only Mr. Wendell urged a quid pro quo in the form of negotiating for adequate downtown parking. [Read more…]

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FRANK WENDELL: Why I’m Running for Mayor


May 4, 2014

I am running for mayor because I love Cape Charles. It’s just that simple. My grandfather, Frank Wendell, emigrated to Cape Charles from Lockenhaus, Austria, with my great-grandfather Joseph in 1884 at the age of 12. My family has been living and working in Cape Charles ever since. My father, Francis Wendell, lived his entire life in Cape Charles and taught me at an early age the value of public service and giving back to your community. So we’re all come-heres from somewhere – some just got here sooner than others.

Small-town life in Cape Charles has gained a lot of appeal in the last 20 years, and the town has benefitted greatly from the resurgence and investments that accompanied it. How we go forward without losing our small town charm and quaintness is one of the many challenges we face as a community. According to the Cape Charles Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement, “the people of Cape Charles cherish and nurture the unique qualities of this small historic town.” I encourage all the town’s people to become more familiar with the Comp Plan and participate in its updating currently in progress.

The issues, opportunities, and challenges facing Cape Charles are as diverse as our richly diverse community:

  • Emergency medical services and our public school system require us to partner with our county leaders in solving these complex problems that have a tremendous effect on our collective economic development.


  • The PSA-proposed Southern Node sewer project and commercial development of Route 13 has benefits, but in my opinion the risks to our downtown outweigh the benefits.


  • Our $10.8 million debt and our continuing need to build, acquire, and maintain infrastructure will remain an ongoing challenge.


  • Harbor development, beach replenishment, and Phase 2 of the Community Trail Project, along with the cooperative efforts with Southport, Bay Creek, King’s Creek Marina, Bayshore Concrete, and Bay Coast Railroad all offer reason for great optimism.


  • Proper management of the town’s 30-employee workforce while insuring proper compensation and keeping town taxes and fees reasonable and fair is paramount. [Read more…]


DAVID GAY: Why I’m Running for Town Council


May 2, 2014

I’m a full-time Cape Charles resident and live in the historic district with my wife Karen.  We chose Cape Charles as our retirement home because of the warm and friendly people, proximity to the bay and the charm of the historic district. We appreciate those, who like us, took a chance on Cape Charles.

I retired last year from Holcim, Ltd., an international building materials manufacturer where I served on the executive committee for their US subsidiary (Aggregate Industries). I have held senior management positions at Holcim, General Electric, and Fannie Mae with extensive experience in consensus building, cost reduction, and service improvement. I bring a business oriented approach to town government.

I hold a BA degree from Lynchburg College and attended business development programs at the Harvard Business School and Cornell University.

I am a member of the Cape Charles Historic District Review Board and served as the Chairman of the Historic District Review Board in 2013.

I am running for Town Council to promote Open Government, Efficient Management & Fiscal Responsibility and to acquire Emergency Medical Services.

Open Government

Cape Charles is a great town with many points of view. We all want the best for our town and no one should be left out of the decision making process.  I believe it is the job of government to serve all the people. To ensure that when major issues are under consideration all sides have a chance to provide input and that this input is openly discussed and considered by the Town Council before voting on a resolution. I don’t believe the current administration has embraced real dialogue with the citizens of Cape Charles and this has led to the unrest in town. We can change this dynamic by holding quarterly Town Hall Meetings and running citizen friendly Town Council Meetings.

Fiscal Responsibility

Town spending is growing beyond our means. According to the 2000 and 2010 US Census our population is decreasing. Former residents say they left town because of double taxation, high water and sewage fees; and other residents, concerned with rising costs, are considering leaving as well. [Read more…]


SUNDAY 5/4: Rotary Club Forum for Town Candidates

The Rotary Club of Cape Charles is sponsoring a public forum for Cape Charles mayoral and Town Council candidates 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at the Palace Theatre.  The moderator will be Wayne Bell, a Rotary member who also moderated the April 29 candidates forum sponsored by Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]