|On Saturday August 13, voters in Rehoboth Beach will go the polls to elect a Mayor amd two City Commissioners. In the mayoral race, incumbent Sam Cooper is running against Bob Sokolove. In the Commissioner's race, four candidatesDennis Barbour, Dave McCarthy, Ron Paterson, and Bill Shieldsare seeking to fill two positions. All six candidates responded to our three questions.
Introduce yourself to the readers of Letters and comment on why you are running for office.
Cooper | I am a life-long resident of Rehoboth Beach and have been Mayor for 15 years. I am a business person, who owns rental cottages and a share of a motel. Most of my non-work time has been spent in service to the citizens of Rehoboth Beach. I served as a Commissioner for 8 years before being elected Mayor, and have been a member of the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Co. for 32 years. As someone who grew up here, I have a deep sense of "community" and what it means to our City. I have worked with many organizations, including CAMP Rehoboth, to address the needs of our City and to advance this sense of community. I am running for re-election as Mayor because I want to continue to use my knowledge, experience and commitment to preserve the community you and I love.
Sokolove | I am seeking to become your Mayor because I see a critical need for land-use controls, financial accountability and leadership presently lacking in our Mayor and City Manager. I have worked with hundreds of communities nationally in addressing their comprehensive development plans, preservation of environmental habitats, architectural controls and water quality enhancements. I have owned a home here for 8 years, have developed a restaurant here as well as raise our children in this community. Our present Mayor has allowed out-of-control development, traffic and parking problems to grow over the years while failing to support our businesses on a day-to-day basis. I will attend to our businesses, support our homeowners and work with our state representatives to properly fund our city projects. As Mayor, I will be a leader. I will proactively gain funding for Streetscape, will openly improve our financial accountability, and will run an open government, with diversity and inclusion as its centerpiece.
Barbour | I've been a Rehoboth homeowner since 1992, active in local government for the past seven years and in national GLBT organizations and causes for much longer.
I am an attorney and for twenty five years have been the CEO of national and international non-profit organizations struggling with many of the issues that Rehoboth now faces. In short, my role has been to lead organizations through change. My professional experience, involvement in our community and love of Rehoboth as a small but vibrant town makes me uniquely qualified to be a City Commissioner. I ask for your vote.
My professional role has been to forge consensus among competing parties in a rapidly changing environment. My work includes organizational development, strategic planning, program development and fundraising.
McCarthy | I am a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach. Prior to moving to Rehoboth, I was a police officer in the NYPD. I became an officer to fulfill a dream but also to make a direct impact on people's lives. While in law enforcement, I was spending my nights and weekends restoring homes in both New York and Rehoboth. It was during this period that I discovered my new passion in preservation and set about pursuing it.
I am running out of concern that significant issues face the city but our elected officials have failed to address these concerns. While our mayor and his candidate slate are discussing these problems, we must not forget that they have been "on watch" while the problems have been allowed to grow and fester.
I am not new to public service. I am not new to a profession which requires that we bring people together, find solutions together, and solve problems together. We are in serious need of leadership and more serious need of fresh approaches to old problems. I bring both to the table. It is my goal to take the old, meaningful culture of this city and combine it with a new, modern professionalism in how this city is run. I believe in Rehoboth Beachthat is why I am running.
Paterson | I have always believed that we must give back to the community where we reside. As a former high school government teacher, I endeavored to instill that value in my students. I personally put that value into practice when I moved to Rehoboth Beach as a full time resident in 1997. As a major part of my commitment, I worked for 3 1/2 years helping to create the city's Comprehensive Development Plan and then obtaining the State's approval of it. Now the most important partthe implementation of the CDPis taking place. I want to use the experience I have gained through working with the CDP creators, government officials, and citizens of Rehoboth Beach to help make logical and fair decisions for all residents and business owners as the City moves towards future growth and prosperity.
Shields | My partner and I moved to Rehoboth full time in 1997 to an historic home on Virginia Avenue where we spent many days repairing, renovating, and landscaping. I pursued a career with the Airlines some time ago. After "911" I found myself looking for a new career and jumped into the Real Estate business. We recently opened our office in a restored beach cottage on the Avenue. I am running for office at the urgency of my friends, neighbors, and the business community. True leadership and direction must be implemented to continue our success as the Nation's Summer Capitol. The old guard is still trying to mend this City's budget by issuing seat belt violations. Nothing says welcome to the beach more than another ticket. When is the last time you saw Mayor Cooper or a City Official at one of our fine restaurants or businesses? Maybe just to say hello and thanks for bringing business into our town.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the residents and the City of Rehoboth Beach?
Cooper | I believe that the most pressing issues center around managing the rapid growth in the City and on our borders. We need to fully appreciate what makes Rehoboth so special and make decisions for our future that maintain these essential qualities. Special care must be taken to ensure the continued viability of both our residential neighborhoods and our commercial business districts. The residential neighborhoods are the definition of Rehoboth Beach, but are under assault from overbuilding. At the same time, we must continue to maintain and improve our commercial areas and beach to keep our businesses competitive.
Sokolove | Failure to fight for our city at the state level; failure to produce creative solutions to parking and traffic; out-of-control development combined with the failure to comprehensively produce zoning changes; poor management and responsiveness with respect to city services; accounting failures and financial mismanagement.
Barbour | The principal challenge Rehoboth now faces is how to direct and control unprecedented growth to best serve our community. Rising property values have suddenly made our city attractive as an investment. As a result it has drawn those who are more interested in its investment potential than its quality of life. Like many other citizens, I came to Rehoboth because of its quality of life, not because of its potential for providing me with a means of making a living or increasing my wealth.
I support the recent changes to the FAR ordinances principally because they will discourage the development of townhouses and condos in our downtown area that would create residential canyons and squeeze out small businesses. One of my opponents supports downtown condo development, and neither of the candidates running on his slate has expressed disagreement with that. All of the candidates on that slate support repeal of the FAR revisions. That would not serve the best interests of our community.
Rehoboth also faces mounting transportation issues that threaten to choke our roadways and make them dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians alike. We need leadership to advocate creative solutions to this problem.
McCarthy | Preservation of Rehoboth's character and smart planning for the future
Parking and traffic solutions for business and residential neighborhoods
Financial accountability; fair and open government
Human rights and respect for all residents and visitors
Paterson | When I entered this campaign, I identified myself as the "ABC Candidate." As such, I listed an Arbor policy through a tree ordinance, fair and equitable up-to-date codes to deal with Building development, and an examination of traffic/parking issues caused by Cars as topics needing immediate attention. My view that those are pressing issues has not changed. However, during my campaign, I have come to realize that many other items are of paramount importance as well. That additional list would include such issues as Streetscape completion, beach maintenance, an analysis of city facilities, sewage disposal, an effective disaster preparedness plan, etc. One thing is very apparent. We have critical issues in the City's immediate future needing proven leadership with a record of experience. I believe I offer what is neededDedication and Experience!
Shields | Financial Management including the completion of Street Scape are on the top of the priority list. If we are unable to substantiate our accounting methods we could lose additional State and Federal monies. Health and Safety issues call for an immediate review of our sewer and water treatment system. Why are we allowing street waste to flow directly into the Canal and Ocean without treatment. I don't think we want to replenish the beach with trash. Unlike my opponent in this election who is a quasi resident, quasi attorney, and quasi realtor, I am full time and understand that growth issues are not going to be resolved by self protectionism. It is not time to build fences but to build bridges and it is time to control density and access roads in and out of Rehoboth. If there is a disaster during a Holiday weekend and the beaches need to be evacuated just remember how many hours it took for people to leave here for the fireworks.
What comments would you make specifically to the GLBT community of Rehoboth Beach?
Cooper | The GLBT community brings much to this Cityeconomically, culturally, socially, politically, and in many other ways. I see individuals for who they are, not as part of any stereotypical group. Based on their qualifications, I have appointed openly gay members to the city's Planning Commission and supported the election of gay City Commissioners. Under my administration, the policies of the City have recognized all individuals as equals. For example, in cooperation with the GLBT community, we unanimously passed a non-discrimination ordinance and instituted sensitivity training for our police in order to better meet the community's concerns. CAMP Rehoboth truly serves as "the heart of the community," and is a welcome partner in all we do to make Rehoboth Beach a more positive place to live, work and visit.
I look forward to continuing to serve our city, and ask for your continued support on August 13.
Sokolove | I have lived a life encompassed by diversity and inclusion. I came to Rehoboth Beach, and moved my family here, recognizing and appreciated that this community offers the opportunity for my family and me to be surrounded with people of diverse backgrounds. Our restaurant is a micro-chasm of all that Rehoboth should bea wonderful mix of the gay and straight communities coming together, feeling comfortable and acting as if we are one community. I believe not in "tolerating" the GLBT community; rather, I embrace that we ARE one community. Perhaps some forget that the gay community has contributed, in very large part, in making our city the great community that it is today. But, there is more to be accomplished. Intolerance still is far too prevalent; prejudice exists under the surface; our African- American brothers and sisters are way too under-represented within the community and often violence and authority are the tools of exclusion, even as we move toward greater understanding. As your Mayor, while I will professionally address the "everyday" issues, I will ALWAYS be cognizant, vigilant and fight for full acceptance of every resident and visitor.
Barbour | The GLBT community has played a major role in making Rehoboth a town that attracts gay and straight visitors and supports diversity. From its beginnings CAMP Rehoboth has been at the forefront of fostering greater dialogue between the GLBT community and the city, through efforts such as sensitivity training for the police department. The leadership of CAMP and other GLBT organizations need our continuing support to maintain Rehoboth as a place where the GLBT community can feel welcome and at home.
McCarthy | Perhaps it would be easy for me to seek the GLBT vote simply by suggesting, "I am gay, vote for me." Thankfully, our city has progressed beyond this point. Sadly, there is so much more to do. While our leaders perhaps recognize that the GLBT community exists, it is my sense that there is not a full appreciation of the contributions and opportunity for cohesiveness we have delivered.
As a gay man, I do not seek to be a "gay representative." Surely, however, I do intend to never forget and always reward those in our community who produce a sense of security, fairness, and inclusiveness for us all. So while I believe in a sense of "one community," I will never forget how we arrived here individually.
My partner and I have been welcomed to our city. I will work hard to welcome those who follow.
Paterson | The word "Rehoboth" is Biblical in origin meaning "room enough for everyone" and implies that by being inclusive, harmony and prosperity will be the result. What is a better example of the proof of this meaning in the 21st Century than our beloved City? Some of the most satisfying times I have experienced while living here have occurred while working in groups comprised of our City's diversity. This has been especially true in my participation with the Planning Commission, the Rehoboth Beach Homeowners Association, and the Country Club Estates Property Association. I have clearly seen that diversity results in strength for a communitynot division. If elected, I hope to make use of our diversity to insure that Rehoboth Beach becomes even A Better City for everyone.
Shields | I shop and dine in Rehoboth. I am a member of the community who keeps dollars in Rehoboth. I am not going to apologize for being a Realtor or being successful. I always sign my name to everything I write. I am a good listener and I will vote with reason. At the Chamber's Candidate Forum Mayor Cooper referred to our community as those people. I haven't been a those people since Stonewall. Have you?
Candidate photos courtesy of the Cape Gazette.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 10 July 29, 2005