The candidate filing deadline for Rehoboth’s 2021 municipal election was June 7, and there are now five people vying for two seats.
Incumbent Commissioner Richard Byrne was the first to file for the election, doing so May 14. Planning Commissioner Rachel Macha, who ran last year, filed her paperwork June 3. These two candidates have already had why-we’re-running announcement stories published in the Cape Gazette.
The remaining three candidates – Tim Bennett, Suzanne Goode and former Commissioner Toni Sharp – have not yet had the chance to tell Rehoboth Beach voters why they’re running for office. Those reasons are below. There will be more opportunity for all five candidates to speak to voters in the future.
Sitting Commissioner Pat Coluzzi is not running for re-election.
Tim Bennett filed his paperwork June 5. A newcomer to Rehoboth’s political scene, he’s been visiting the city since the 1980s and now lives here full time after buying a home four years ago.
“Now it is my time to give back to this community that has given me so much enjoyment for so long,” said Bennett, who had a long career in corporate marketing, including as the director of marketing and advertising programs at Subaru of America for 15 years.
An advocate for good growth, Bennett said he would support a full-time city planner and an architectural review committee. A city planner is not a new issue, he said in an email June 9, but land redevelopment is picking up pace, and professional and consistent expertise would be a welcome addition to the city planning and development process.
“Growth and change is inevitable, but that does not mean you sacrifice the charm and quality of life that has made Rehoboth Beach a coveted place to call home, set up a business or visit,” said Bennett, adding that he views Rehoboth Beach as a three-legged-stool – residents, businesses, visitors. “Good growth must include the businesses, residents and tourists, because without one the others cannot exist. So while I am pro-business per se, I am also pro-resident and pro-visitor. I prefer to say I am pro-Rehoboth Beach.”
Suzanne Goode filed her paperwork June 7. This is the second time she’s run for office in Rehoboth Beach; her first go was in 2019. She has been a second-home owner since 2006 and a full-time resident since 2017.
In an email June 9, Goode said she’s running for office to preserve quality of life for the residents, and to shore up the fiscal landscape, both for homeowners and business owners. She said she will work toward responsible spending, rather than funding of special projects, and she would work to avoid discretionary, nonessential projects.
“The small-town nature of Rehoboth can be protected if projects are chosen based on their merits and their expected return on investment,” said Goode.
Parking fees need to be raised and the enforcement season made longer, said Goode. She proposed April 1 to Oct. 31, with April, May and October enforcement being Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
“The congestion level at peak times would be managed better under these new parking regulations,” said Goode.
Enforcing existing building codes for commercial development is another issue Goode said she would like to take on.
“I have observed a consistent and often successful strategy by developers to use the building code as a starting point for negotiation, rather than something developers take seriously,” she said. “The city does not confer special treatment in the residential building code, so the history of giving a pass to developers needs to stop immediately. Developers increasingly assume that doing business in RB means flouting the rules which are enforced in most of the rest of the country.”
Toni Sharp filed her paperwork June 7. She is a former city commissioner, having served for six years, 2013 to 2019. She has also served on multiple city committees, including the communications committee, streets and transportation committee, and mayor’s advisory committee on trees. She has been a homeowner for 20 years and a full-time resident since 2011.
Sharp said she’s running for office again because she thinks it's her responsibility to the community. There are a lot of people who have strong opinions, but they would rather stew in those opinions than be a part of the solutions, she said.
“I’m the type of person who has those strong opinions, but I also believe in being involved,” said Sharp.
In 2019, when she announced she wasn’t running for re-election, Sharp said the goals she had when becoming a commissioner had been accomplished – hiring a communications director, making sure the city had long-range financial planning, and implementing public opinion research.
Two years later, Sharp said her short break from public service provided a well-needed opportunity to return with a new perspective and a clear vision. Her new list of goals includes getting the public more involved in the decision-making process and doing a better job at sticking to financial priorities.
“There are lots of must-have projects and nice-to-have projects,” said Sharp, adding that she takes pride in the tangible results accomplished during her previous tenure. “There are some topics that, as far as I can glean, we’ve been talking about for decades. At some point, you have to have a determined focus to make incremental changes as opposed to kicking the can down the road.”
Rehoboth Beach’s 2021 municipal election is scheduled to take place Saturday, Aug. 14. Absentee ballots will be available beginning Wednesday, June 30. Ballots will be sent to everyone who has an absentee ballot request form on file. The deadline for the city to mail ballots is Tuesday, Aug. 10. Ballots must be received by mail or in person before the polls close on the day of the election.
To be eligible to vote, a person must register on or before Thursday, July 15. Any qualified elector may request an absentee ballot to vote by filing a request for an absentee ballot form no later than noon, Friday, Aug. 13. For more information, contact Donna Moore at 302-227-6181, Ext. 108, or go to cityofrehoboth.com.