Rehoboth Beach, DE has been called the ‘Nation’s Summer Capital’ and is a wonderful place to visit for its mile long boardwalk, wide white sandy beaches, great restaurants and activities for people of all ages. But the City of Rehoboth Beach is more than that. It is a great place to live, work, recreate and even retire too.
On August 12th voters in the roughly one square mile of the City of Rehoboth Beach have a real opportunity to make a positive difference in their government. Their vote will not only impact them but also the thousands who live in the 19971 zip code which also carries a Rehoboth Beach address. It will also impact the thousands of tourists who come each year. They will be electing a Mayor and two city commissioners. The City of Rehoboth is governed by a seven member Commission consisting of six commissioners and the Mayor.
The main issues facing voters in this election are ones of financial planning and management; basic administration and use of modern IT; and ensuring a more open and transparent government which all impact how the city plans for its future. The current Mayor has been in office for thirty years. He has overseen the growth of the City in what many consider a haphazard way. He clearly lacks any understanding of financial planning and has shown he cannot manage a big project with regard to keeping it on schedule and within budget. The prime example of this is the current new, and totally unnecessary, City Hall Complex being built on Rehoboth Avenue, the main commercial strip in the city. It is millions over budget and way behind schedule with no end in sight to the cost overruns.
Based on this many voters have real concerns about allowing him to stay in office and manage the next multi-million dollar project which was narrowly approved 637 to 606 last summer. It is a plan to borrow $52.5 million for a sewage treatment plant upgrade and new ocean discharge that will empty more than a mile offshore. So August 12th is the time to ensure those who are elected Mayor and Commissioners are up to the task of monitoring this project and future ones since the current Mayor has proven he is not up to the task.
Voters are lucky. This year they have a much better option for Mayor. Paul Kuhns is a resident and respected local businessman who understands what it means to do financial planning and financial projections. He has experience in personnel matters and knows about the bottom line. He has pledged to work with the other commissioners as a team to undertake long term planning so the city is better able to manage its budget and growth in a way both fair to local residents and businesses, and to the tourists who flock to this beautiful town. His vision for a more open and effective government is backed by two of the candidates running for the Commission.
The first is Kathy McGuiness who was born and raised in Rehoboth and has a long record of community service and activism. She originally served on the Commission for twelve years stepping down in 2012 to focus on her children. After a couple of years many members of the community approached her and asked her to run again because they missed her voice of reason, her knowledge and experience. She agreed and was elected to a three year term in 2014. She is one of the Commissioners who has spoken out against the Mayor and fought for more long range planning and more oversight of the budget. She has a record of supporting the business community in the City understanding it is the health of that community that brings in so much of the tourism and tourist dollars allowing local homeowners to keep their property taxes low while continuing to have the services they need within the City.
The second Commissioner candidate who will support the needed change is Lisa Schlosser. Lisa has the experience and knowledge that will allow her to join the commission and immediately work on changes needed to make the city government a model of responsiveness to voters. She has a background in IT, and worked for both the federal Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management. Lisa has been a public servant for over 30 years. She managed and had oversight of billions of dollars in investments and projects. In addition she served our country in the Army and led soldiers in many assignments, both in the US and overseas. Her vast experiences make her an ideal member of the Commission.
So electing Kuhns, McGuiness and Schlosser is important. But what many haven’t realized is how important it is to elect all three. When Paul Kuhns wins as Mayor by law he gets to name the person to fill the empty seat on the Commission (the one he currently holds) that will come about with his election. That would give him a working four person majority to move forward on his goals of improving government which will benefit everyone in the city.
Electing these three candidates will make a real difference in how growth is managed in the future. It will mean the end of secret meetings and a government purely reactive to complaints and instead usher in an era when the city’s government will be proactive, work in an open and transparent way, and do strategic and financial planning to deal with issues before they become a crisis.