Rehoboth Beach Mayor Sam Cooper cruised to victory in the city’s Aug. 9 municipal election, sending him back to the mayor's office for his ninth term.
Cooper was the top vote-getter this year, capturing 685 votes of 1,077 votes cast – 64 percent of the vote – over challenger Tom McGlone, who finished with 364 votes.
“I’m very humbled by the vote I got,” Cooper said. “I appreciate the confidence. I think we have a really good commission right now, and that makes all the difference in the world.”
Despite an occasionally testy race that saw McGlone aggressively attack Cooper’s support of the city's proposed ocean outfall project and $15 million City Hall renovation, McGlone shook hands and congratulated Cooper after the results were announced.
With the election over with, Cooper said he was looking forward to getting back to business, starting with the ocean outfall, which has been on hold for nearly a year as it awaits on the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to approve the city’s environmental impact statement, required for the city to receive state funding for the estimated $25 million project.
“We’ve got a lot on our plate,” Cooper said. “These two big projects were put on my shoulders to carry through this election and a convincing win like this says to me we’re on the right track,” Cooper said. “It doesn’t mean we ignore public input, but it says people understand we need a new City Hall and that people understand ocean outfall is the right choice for the city.”
In the commissioners’ race, a pair of familiar faces also won convincing victories. Incumbent Lorraine Zellers retained her seat, winning her third term in office with 584 votes or 54 percent of votes cast. This year marked the first time in her three elections that Zellers was not the top vote-getter.
“I’m humbled each time,” Zellers said. “It was tougher this time," she said, noting she wasn't sure she wanted to run again. "People came to me, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll try.’”
Like Cooper, Zellers said she was looking forward to moving forward with the ocean outfall and City Hall projects. Zellers said she also wanted to work on her Rehoboth In Bloom beautification project and to continue to work on traffic management issues.
Joining her on the commission will be Kathy McGuiness, who won back the seat she vacated in January 2013. She won 611 votes or 56 percent.
McGuiness split her time last year between her home in Henlopen Acres and Park City, Utah, where her three children were active in winter action sports. She said the time off helped after four previous terms as commissioner.
“It feels fantastic. I’m honored,” McGuiness said. “I stepped back, imposed my own term limits on myself, and it was such a good thing to do. It was really good to check out other people’s meetings, websites, how they do something, what they do in their resort. It was a smart move.”
McGuiness said she would like to undergo an extensive study of the city’s traffic management.
Rounding out the commissioner field – all three running for the first time –were planning commissioner Francis “Bunky” Markert’s 377 votes followed by Larry Myslewski’s 171 and John Meng’s 163. Officially, there were 1,384 registered voters this year; 796 voted at the polls while 281 voted by absentee ballot. All told, 77 percent of registered voters voted, up by one percent from the 76 percent that voted in 2011.
Mayoral years tend to bring out more voters, although the numbers have gone down since 2005, when 88 percent of the electorate voted in the mayoral contest between Cooper and challenger Bob Sokolove. In 2008, 83 percent of the voters cast ballots in a year in which Cooper defeated challenger Paul Kuhns.
Compared to the 2011 race against McGlone, Cooper won slightly more votes, 685 this year compared to 665 in 2011. However, McGlone’s votes declined from 483 in 2011 to 364 this year.