Q&A: Harrington Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans

Duane E. Bivans has been a member of the Harrington City Council as the district six representative since 2010. As of 2015, he’s also the first African-American vice mayor for the city of more than 3,500 residents.

“When I think back at what Mr. [Lance] Armstrong did not share with us is how great a leap that [landing on the moon] would be. We can’t always take the card that society hands us. We can always hand that card back and say no, I’m going to do it my way,” he said of his newfound position.

Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans

Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans

Name: Duane E. Bivans

Age: 54

Hometown: Salisbury, MD

Occupation: Security industry

Education: High School graduate with training in security, retail fraud and other areas.

When did you move to Harrington?

“I’ve been in Delaware since 1992, a Harrington resident for last 18 years. I had a saying that I would not be more than two hours away from either mom or dad. Dad lives in Wilmington, mom in Salisbury. My wife drove around the area with a broken foot and a realtor and wanted to stay in Harrington.”

Tell us about your family

“I have a wife, a daughter who is now a sophomore in college. I’m a husband first, a dad second, a citizen third, a councilman fourth.”

What do you do in your spare time?

“I’m a very family oriented person. For me, it’s not really about what you do with family. My wife probably figures it a little differently but for me it’s that you’re there and supportive; that you spend the time. Some folks, to get their person high, they have to be at the beach. For me, I could be at a yard sale or an amusement park. I want to know: Is it making an impact in their life? Is it making their time with me beneficial?”

Do you actively engage in other community activities?

“I’ve always been involved in community service. I’ve been involved with the Easter Seals since 1987 and have sat on its advisory board for 18 years maybe? Both in Salisbury and most presently in Georgetown.”

Why community service?

“I’m no stranger to the give-back portion and that comes from my upbringing. My grandmother said, “Don’t look at where you are, look at where you’re going to.” She was very deeply rooted in the faith. Growing up in Salisbury, I used to say, “I don’t have the money that Uncle Frank [Perdue] has or Mr. Henson does.” But she’d say, “But you have you.””

What do you do for a living?

“I’m in the security industry. I work at the veterans’ home in Milford. I get a lot out of them, the young, and I call them young, women and men that are there. They are quite engaging folk.”

Did these experiences shape you as a councilmember?

“I think it prepared me to sit on the council because there are so many different views and so many different sets of circumstances and situations that unfolded during my time in my employment in that field. It teaches you a lot of respect for people, their desires, lifestyles… there’s really no such thing as a bad person, and us included sometimes, they just makes bad decisions but that doesn’t make us a bad person. It’s not the position you hold but the position that you take that makes the difference. Everybody belongs to somebody. We all may not have dotted every I or crossed every t. I made a decision to get involved with the community and I chose to get involved with local government.”

Why did you initially choose to run for council?

“I think it was more of a conscientious decision to say you can be a Councilperson from the inside. It’s not about me, but it’s through me. I’m the vessel used and God-appointed. When I went to run, I found there was a person who had put their name in the hat so to speak, but I ended up running unopposed. The town needs to grow. We need to have a town that runs efficiently but we can’t forget the people who are in the town.”

What would you say to others considering service?

“It’s one thing to have a voice from the outside, it’s another thing entirely to have a voice from the inside. If you are afforded an opportunity and you have the means or a job that permits you to have such a task, you should put your foot in it to see. You don’t know what his or her circumstances are, but it’s up to us to not only affect our tonight but affect our tomorrow.”

What do you hope others say about you?

“He served and he served well. It’s not about giving the all, or giving the some. It’s about the giving at all.”

What do you think of Harrington?

“The town as a whole is quiet. It’s engaging. It identifies with a family atmosphere. It is nothing to see folks on a nice spring-like day walking. You can always tell when April rolls around: There’s either new people or people with cabin fever cause you’re thinking, “who are those people?” It’s very relaxing and rewarding that people for the most part accept you for who you are.”

Is there anything you would like to change?

“The sign in the middle of Route 13 that says Harrington is the Hub of Delaware. I like to play on words. Hub means things evolve around that and what I’ve learned from things in the community, taking a tour of the museum, learning of commerce, the railroad… while we don’t still live within those measures, we should embrace those means and try to incorporate those things. How do we recreate that? Businesses not want to continue driving through Harrington to somewhere but deciding to explore the hub. We want you to like the school, the town and want you to feel comfortable and safe enough for you to choose us.”

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