The filing deadline for Rehoboth Beach’s municipal election passed June 4, and while it took the withdrawal of a commissioner candidate after the deadline, there will be no election.
Incumbent Mayor Stan Mills was the only person to file for the mayoral seat. Incumbent Commissioners Patrick Gossett and Jay Lagree and first-time candidate Don Preston filed for the two open commissioner seats, but Lagree issued a statement the day after the deadline saying he was withdrawing from the race.
Mills said a lack of challengers seeking the mayoral seat is a signal that the citizenry is satisfied with his leadership. He said it’s an honor to be able to serve a second term as mayor.
Looking forward, Mills said his goals for the next three years include continued implementation of the comprehensive development plan, continued development of and implementation of the capital improvement plan, and fine-tuning the budget.
“I look forward to working with the board of commissioners, including newcomer Donald Preston, for the betterment of the community,” said Mills in an email June 8.
Gossett said he respects Lagree’s decision to not seek re-election and encouraged him to stay active.
“[Lagree] served the city well, and I am honored that he supports my continued service on the commission,” he said.
Gossett said the city needs to keep its brand as a fun, safe and beautiful seaside community.
“The city is safe and clean, and we have beautiful neighborhoods and a thriving business community. But there is always work to be done to improve the city for our residents, businesses and visitors,” said Gossett.
A comprehensive review and update of the zoning code, making sure city staff implement the city’s comprehensive development plan, and the fair and equitable enforcement of laws and regulations are several initiatives Gossett said he would like to see accomplished over the next three years.
Preston said he appreciates Lagree’s confidence and he’ll work hard to fill his seat in a respectful way, but he also wishes there was an election. He said there’s a lot to be gained by getting out and talking with the people who live, work and visit in the town.
“I will not let the summer go by without getting out and talking with people,” said Preston.
Following his swearing-in, Preston said he’s going to work to bring different factions of town together, work with other commissioners and the town manager to create a set of strategic priorities, and work to make sure city hall is more efficient.
“Those are some of the short-term goals that I intend to work on first,” he said.
According to election information provided by the city, this is the first time since 1993 there will be no election in a mayoral year. That year, Sam Cooper filed as mayor, while John Hyde and John Salin filed as commissioners. Cooper went unchallenged in 1999 and 2002, but there were commissioner races.
This is also the first time since at least 1990 there have been consecutive years without an election in Rehoboth. In 2022, incumbent Commissioner Edward Chrzawnowski and now-Commissioner Francis “Bunky” Markert were the only two to file.
Mills, Gossett and Preston will be certified as candidates during the Friday, June 16 board of commissioners meeting, then officially sworn in during a commissioner meeting in September.