For the first time in nearly a decade, there will not be a municipal election in Rehoboth Beach.
The candidate filing deadline for Rehoboth’s 2022 election passed at 4:30 p.m., June 6, and there are two people vying for two seats. Incumbent Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski was the first to file for the election, doing so May 26. Francis “Bunky” Markert, former planning commissioner and current parks and shade tree commission chair, filed June 6.
Chrzanowski said he’s happy Rehoboth citizens have seen him in action over the past three years and are confident in his abilities to lead and govern on their behalf.
“I will continue to use a common-sense, balanced, fair and a thoughtful approach to how I represent Rehoboth,” said Chrzanowski in an email June 8. “Half of my last term was consumed with the pandemic and I look forward to getting back on track of normalcy, and a long term strategy for Rehoboth.”
Chrzanowski said submitting his paperwork May 26 gave constituents plenty of time to consider his re-election and then to challenge him if so desired.
“It is unfortunate that not all candidates and one current colleague didn't afford the public the same opportunity, made plays in private, and submitted a petition down to the wire,” said Chrzanowski.
Chrzanowski said the city has many challenges in the coming years, such as an additional $10 million in its capital improvement program next fiscal year.
“I am honored to be entrusted to help the city navigate through them,” he said.
Markert ran for office before in 2014. He said he had considered it again since then, but hadn’t because there had been a good string of candidates, many of whom he supported.
“I’m not getting any younger and one more gray-haired man is not all that appealing to anyone, but I felt this year I had an opportunity to serve the community I care so much about, and running is the best way to find out,” said Markert in an email June 7.
Markert said he still intends on campaigning in the coming months. The best part about campaigning is engaging neighbors to hear their thoughts, suggestions and frustrations, he said.
“I believe the people who have chosen to live in Rehoboth or to spend time here are its greatest resource,” said Markert.
Looking forward, Markert said he wants to maintain the values set forth in the new comprehensive development plan, and to help revise, clarify and condense the code.
“It needs to be more understandable and not as subject to interpretation,” said Markert of city code.
Markert said he would like to revisit the preservation ordinance, which sought to identify the character of the various neighborhoods within Rehoboth and to allow certain changes in the zoning and building codes to accommodate them. It did not pass, partly because it was all or nothing, but there was validity in many of its proposals that could be applied, he said.
Sitting Commissioner Susan Gay did not file for re-election. In a prepared statement June 6, Gay said it was a difficult decision to not seek re-election. However, she said, several recent family health issues have led her to conclude that she cannot continue to work at the same pace within city government and also devote the time necessary to support her family.
“I am not leaving Rehoboth Beach. I plan to stay actively involved in city issues, and I would like to continue to serve the city in some capacity, perhaps on a city committee,” said Gay.
Prior to being elected in 2019, Gay has served on the planning commission for two years..
“I believe strongly in a vision to retain the special sense of place that makes Rehoboth Beach so unique and successful as a resort and a residential community. I will continue to support city leaders in any way I can to achieve this vision for the future,” said Gay.
Having no election in Rehoboth is unusual. According to city voting records, dating back to 1990, there have only been four other years without an election – 1993, 1998, 2010 and 2013.
Chrzanowski and Markert will be sworn in during the regular commissioner meeting Friday, Sept. 16.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original posting with statements from Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski, Commissioner Susan Gay and Commissioner Elect Francis Markert.