Mudslinging This Close to the State Line Is Really Ill-Advised

False claims drag the wrong mayor into the slime

Tony Russo
4 min readNov 12, 2021


This opinion piece is part of a series ahead of the Delmar, Maryland local election.

Delmar mayoral candidate Benjamin Jorden doesn’t just think that his opponent is doing a lousy job, he also seems to think his would-be counterpart is as well. During a recent chat, and in some of his political fliers, Jorden bemoaned the state of the downtown and questioned why more hasn’t been done.

The fact that the downtown is in Delmar, Delaware doesn’t bother him. The fact that the downtown has undergone a massive transformation over the last decade under Mayor Mike Houlihan doesn’t seem to bother him either.

Of course, being a recent arrival with no interest in Delmar civic life before he and his friends began campaigning for an instant majority, maybe he doesn’t know.

Houlihan does. His response to the accusation that not enough has been done to help the downtown evolve was to provide the simple facts that Jorden prefers to ignore in his quest to get elected.

To be so disingenuous as to forget what state you live in, and to malign a person with whom you hope to seriously work takes a particular breed of politician.

Over the last decade Houlihan and his colleagues have sanctioned a massive beautification program that included new pavers and decorative lamp posts. The town bought and paved the alley behind the downtown to provide parking for the residents and several new businesses that made their homes there as part of the renewal plan.

One of the last remaining empty storefronts that can be occupied is already under renovation.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done in the downtown,” Houlihan said.

Jorden is not. He said Maryland needs to do more to encourage business and development in the downtown. He’s calling for more restaurants and shopping. He doesn’t have the prerogative to do either, but his plan is to sow dissent in the name of unity. Or maybe by unity he means to be in charge of both towns.

Lord knows why else he’s so interested in getting more businesses in the Delaware downtown, although much of his “local business” support comes from outside Delmar, Md.

Solving the non-existent parking problem

Jorden’s proposal to get more restaurants and business is to convert the side of the railroad tracks into public parking. The idea being the town should enter into a lease with the railroad and provide more gravel parking across from Town Hall.

There’s nothing wrong with this idea, although there’s already plenty of parking on the other side of the tracks, used extensively by the auction house which packs it out every Friday night.

Houlihan said that no business has been turned away over parking concerns, and none has approached him for more parking.

He added that when the final building in the downtown is renovated and begins operations (and there is no timeline for that) some parking accommodation may have to be made for new apartments.

Houlihan went on to say that municipal lots are a needed solution, as with any other small town adding that Delmar, Del. is also interested in working with the railroad to convert some of their easement land into parking.

For voters, the real question is why Jorden would call out an elected official he has to work with in an effort to smear his opponent as incompetent. He may not even see it that way, but that is only more depressing.

What seems likely, though, is that he’s just using words he knows will resonate. “Attract more business” and “Be more business friendly” are knee-jerk phrases for a politician. The political equivalent of “How are you doing?” in that you don’t really expect people to take it seriously.

But to be so disingenuous as to forget what state you live in, and to malign a person with whom you hope to seriously work takes a particular breed of politician.

Tomorrow: Delmar Candidates Think They’ve Found a Money Tree

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Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light”