Kuhns faces impasse in Rehoboth

Vacant commissioner seat remains unfilled
September 18, 2017

Paul Kuhns was sworn in as Rehoboth Beach’s new mayor at 7:02 p.m., Sept. 15 to a healthy ovation from a standing room only crowd at Rehoboth fire hall. 

He first recognized the service of his predecessor, Sam Cooper, and former Commissioner Lorraine Zellers. 

That was the easy part.

After Kathy McGuiness and Lisa Schlosser were sworn in as commissioners, the commissioners took up the matter of filling the remainder of Kuhns’ one-year term as commissioner. 

Kuhns nominated former Commissioner Pat Coluzzi, but the vote was deadlocked at 3-3, with Kuhns, McGuiness and Schlosser approving her nomination and commissioners Stan Mills, Patrick Gossett and Toni Sharp voting no. Under the city charter, any commissioners may enter a name in nomination.

Mills submitted the name of Susan Gay, who finished third in this year’s commissioner race. Mills said Gay was the only other person to seek a seat this year, was highly qualified and received more than 600 votes. Sharp said it was important to stand up for the people who voted for Gay.

McGuiness, Schlosser and Kuhns all argued that Coluzzi was an experienced former commissioner who would be a great choice to serve a one-year term. Schlosser said the voters spoke and wanted change, while Kuhns said the voters wanted to see an end to the divisiveness in town that had grown under the previous administration.

Gay’s nomination failed, by the same 3-3 vote, and Kuhns re-entered Coluzzi’s name. That motion again produced a 3-3 deadlock.

Kuhns later nominated Gay to the planning commission, and she was appointed by a 5-1 vote with McGuiness the only no vote. After Gay was appointed to the planning commission, McGuiness moved to hold a revote for the commissioner seat, since Gay was no longer eligible. The motion once more failed 3-3, leaving the seat vacant.

“That’s very disappointing,” Kuhns said after Coluzzi was rejected a third time. 

An additional appointment to the planning commission was that of former commissioner candidate Rick Perry, who was approved by a 5-1 vote. Mills was the only no vote, saying he could not support Perry’s nomination because he is a party to an active lawsuit against the city.

The commissioners unanimously reappointed Joyce Lussier to another term on the commission. Perry and Gay will replace Lynne Wilson and Harvey Shulman, who did not wish to be reappointed. 

The commissioners also unanimously approved the nominations of Myrna Kelley and Jerry Capone for seats on the board of adjustment. Kelley is a reappointment, while Capone will take the seat of Clif Hilderley, who declined to be reappointed. 

This was the final commissioners’ meeting in the fire hall as City Manager Sharon Lynn announced that the new City Hall is officially the city’s and city staff will begin moving in Monday, Sept. 18. City administrative offices will be closed through Friday, Sept. 22. An open house for the new facility will be held from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1. Kuhns said that event will feature a proclamation designating Oct. 1 as Samuel R. Cooper Day in Rehoboth.