Candidates make their case as Rehoboth Beach mayoral election approaches
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – The Rehoboth Beach municipal elections are only a month away – and the city gave citizens a chance to hear mayoral candidates speak on various topics Wednesday morning. The big focus was economic development – and how the city can grow and learn from the experience of COVID-19 moving forward. “We have to look into the future not just our capital improvement but at how to finance everything going forward,” said mayoral candidate Stan Mills.
Incumbent Mayor Paul Kuhns says the city should be focusing on helping its tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. “How are we going to convince people to come to a place where social distancing is kind of difficult? We have to work with local government and state government as far as stemming the tide of this pandemic,” said Mayor Kuhns.
Mayor Kuhns says the city has been doing a good job of keeping people up to date when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions. Mills says he would’ve jumped into action sooner. “I think that planning ahead could’ve started as far as a month or so earlier and doing so we wouldn’t have had to rush executive decision on several fronts,” said Mills.
Mayor Kuhns says under his leadership, the city reacted to the pandemic as quickly as possible. “I would’ve loved to have a month to decide what to do. But we didn’t have a month because the pandemic was growing. So once the government put in a state of emergency, we put in a state of emergency locally,” said Mayor Kuhns.
Mills says Rehoboth Beach should be looking at projects proposed in the past – and figuring out ways to get them rolling. “We need to start planning first and then start having shovel-ready projects so that we can start to seek funding to do that,” said Mills.
Mayor Kuhns says that the funds should come first – and then the city can begin improvements – and come out of the COVID-19 pandemic successfully. “Money doesn’t grow on trees. I know we all want to do planning, but where does the money come from?” said Mayor Kuhns.
One of the points that the candidates agreed on was that whatever happens in Rehoboth Beach moving forward, they support outreach to the city’s businesses. “Tourism has put Rehoboth on the map with respect to our finances. More than 60% of our budget – our operating budget on a daily basis – comes from tourism,” said Mayor Kuhns.
The candidates also both said that it’s important to look at tourism in Rehoboth Beach, and assure visitors that it’s possible to have a safe and enjoyable vacation in the beach town. “Keeping an economic balance from tourism is absolutely important and critical in this. By example, we do need finances and revenue from our tourist trade,” said Mills.
The election will take place on August 8th. The deadline for voter registration is June 9th. You can watch Wednesday’s full virtual forum here.