UPDATED: Rehoboth Commissioner Candidates Debate the Issues with WGMD’s Mike Bradley

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The three candidates vying for 2 open seats on the Rehoboth Beach Commission debated the issues this morning on WGMD’s Mike Bradley Show. Incumbent Kathy Mc Guiness is challenged by Lisa Schlosser and Susan Gay. Commissioner Lorraine Zellers is not running for re-election. The questions came by phone and email and you can hear their answers here….

Rehoboth Beach voters go to the polls on Saturday to elect 2 women to the city commission and a mayor. Incumbent Sam Cooper is challenged by current commissioner Paul Kuhns.

The polls will be open Saturday from 10 to 6pm at the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Department


Additional Q & A from candidates Lisa Schlosser, Susan Gay and Kathy McGuiness:

As a long-time, year round, business owner in downtown Rehoboth and board member of Main Street, I’m very interested in the specifics of what business-friendly means to you, and specifically what would you do to improve business and city relations while promoting a healthy and viable business environment?

Lisa Schlosser:  This is one of the top three issues I would take action on the first 60-90 days in office.  I would work with my fellow Commissioners to either revive Main Street or appoint a business-commissioner-resident task force, with the Chamber of Commerce, to come up with concrete ways to improve relations and help our local businesses thrive.  This group would report out ideas at each Commissioner meeting, so the recommendations are considered and implemented.  This group should focus on items such incentives that can be offered to businesses, promotion opportunities, and other ideas. 

Susan Gay:  The city is already business-friendly in a way few cities are, with no city tax on business owners. We must continue to provide valuable services of clean streets, clean beaches, and an atmosphere that attracts visitors. Our active Chamber of Commerce and the new Main Street, as well as business and property owners, should be encouraged to participate in the business of the City.

Kathy McGuiness:  Business friendly means:  Trying to shop, dine and spend my dollars in the city limits first and foremost. Sometimes that is not possible, but the effort must be made a priority. I have been the liaison and a strong voice and standing up for the business community in general for years since I owned and operated my first RB business Rehoboth Pharmacy., where my family shopped when I was growing up. Years ago, we were not as “year round” of a community and I realized for me to  survive, the entire community must thrive. That’s when I immediately engaged the business community in the mid 1990’s. With a defunct downtown business association, I became the founding president of the national award winning RB Main street. I served and worked along some great folks for 18 years. I went door to door and asked what I can do to help. The 2 main requests…1- parking garage 2 – annual fireworks. I persisted and almost 1 year of meetings and requests, I got the green light to orchestrate (and fundraise) for the annual show, for years the largest 1 day event in the entire state.. Its constant work to reinvent and upgrade yourself as a community. Under my involvement we implemented the sign and façade program, town and cottage awards, ran the community unity, chocolate festival and dolphin project along with spearheading the streetscape revitalization have helped many with permit issues, changing the narrative from NO to KNOW. As others agree, I would REFUND and REHOME our downtown specific business voice!

 

What are you thoughts on easing restrictions on home sizes, swimming pools rental occupancy limits?

Lisa Schlosser:  I am a strong advocate of reviewing the current ordinances, to determine what is working and what is not, through a strong collaboration with residents, developers, home builders, and other stakeholders.  Based on this review, we should make modification in the ordinance(s) and/or implementation of the ordinance(s).  Most importantly – this should be an inclusive and transparent process, and the Commission must listen to our residents.  This whole process needs an injection of common sense, incentives, and more consistency.  If we take these actions, we can strike the right balance.

Susan Gay:  While I’ve been here, home sizes have been put to the voters twice, in 2005 and 2015, driven by concerns of homeowners to prevent mini-hotels and town homes in residential neighborhoods.  Both times, our citizens approved zoning codes. Balancing growth, tourism and livability is our #1 challenge and has been for decades, always will be. There are no restrictions on swimming pools. Rental occupancy limits conform to standards used by rental agents, and now apply to all rentals, including those handled online.

Kathy McGuiness:  I think we need to look at the Comprehensive development plan and code in general, before all character and charm is lost. We must learn to incentivize for those to recreate our treasured structures, like we did with the McQuays property! I strive to preserve, promote and protect the city we all love.

Also thoughts on restricting LLCs from owning rental property, allowing LLC owners to vote?

Lisa Schlosser:  I believe the rights of LLCs should be specifically considered as part of a broader look at voting rules overall.  LLCs have a significant stake in our community.

Susan Gay:  I am not aware of any proposal to restrict ownership property rights in any way.  The voting issues should be on the table to determine what is legal and in the best interests of our citizens. Protecting voting rights is important to me. I am a firm believer in “one person, one vote.”

Kathy McGuiness:  How can you restrict a person or an LCC from owning property, rental or commercial?  I believe every property should have their voice, their vote. I suggested many times that LLC could have ONE vote to represent their property, regardless whether you rent or not. I have many friends who cant vote simply because of their accountant’s recommendation and they are NOT rental property. This is fair and makes common sense as we trend towards this route for tax reasons. We should be striving for equality for all in Rehoboth Beach.

Name one Infrastructure issue not currently considered.

Lisa Schlosser:  We absolutely need to consider bringing FIOS and/or other competitors into the Rehoboth Beach market.  When you have no real competition, service is inconsistent and prices are high, as we are seeing with the current provider in town.

Susan Gay:  The city should have a systematic plan to replace aging water and sewer lines, and should seek federal and state funds to assist with the cost.

Kathy McGuiness:  I am very proud under my tenure; we have upgraded and renovated our three playgrounds, parks, bridge, roads, restrooms and more. It is time to review and access our forests and parks along with the RB Patrol headquarters/restroom facility as we become more year round with more visitor ship. A Priority is the connection of ALL sidewalks throughout the entire city

We talked transparency some but name one concrete change to add to transparency that you would work on or change?
Lisa Schlosser:  I would use more social media channels and email to share critical information with all residents and businesses.   We should also empower committees, give them time on each Commissioner meeting agenda, and make membership much more transparent and open.

Susan Gay: Transparency is our obligation to share information with citizens. The amount of information available through the city has increased dramatically in my 17 years here. The problem is that there is so much information, it’s not always easy to navigate. So, I suggest a Town Hall and online tutorial to help citizens find information when they need it. If elected, I volunteer to help lead the session because I am well-versed in our database of content!

Kathy McGuiness:  I have instituted, through persistence the new, transparent process for our city hall reporting on add-ons and  change orders. I request in detail each meeting the pending and paid, origination and costs. I am proud, moving forward for other projects this has become the new norm!

Are there code or charter changes to the City’s budget process that need to take place? What of the complaint filed with the state concerning taking in too much property tax money?

Lisa Schlosser:  We should definitely link the CDP to specific budget proposals, and work to develop better and more constructive relationships with the County and State so our interests are heard and our concerns addressed in future budget activities in a proactive manner.

Susan Gay:  The state attorney general found no merit and declined to investigate the complaint.  No further action has occurred.

Kathy McGuiness:  We are actually starting to meet more often in relations to the budget, but here we are in mid August without a handle on our benefits package and more. I would like to see set monthly budget meetings in addition to our current workshops and meetings. IF we need to cancel, then we can do o, but at least this is an opportunity for those to lend their expertise, input and perspectives. We have so many talented property owners from other areas that needed to be recruited to serve on working committees!

What would you do or have you done concerning affordable housing?

Lisa Schlosser:  This actually goes back to establishing better, more consistent, relationships with the County and State,as the county is now developing its 2018 Comprehensive Plan update.  Key issues in this updated plan will include affordable housing and historic preservation (among other topics), and Rehoboth Beach can benefit from being an active, engaged, participant in this process.

Susan Gay:  This is an issue that can’t be solved in Rehoboth Beach alone. Good urban planning models exist, but we must bring in Sussex County, neighboring communities, and real estate developers to address the issue. I have been following the issue as the Sussex Comp Plan is being developed.

Kathy McGuiness:  This is tough, since we are 1 square mile with not much left to develop in the city limits. We have some affordable just outside the city limits, but again the dialogue between the county and our commission must engage now. I have begun the process to open the lines of communication.  Fortunately, have the unique perspective of growing up here; raising my family here, I am familiar with many of our county and state officials!

Based on what happened with Town Hall, how would you better manage the Ocean Outfall as a result? 
Lisa Schlosser:  I would convene a team of our highly qualified residents to assess what actually happened with the Town Hall project, and would ask this team to make recommendations on how to correct these issues on new projects.  In general, from I have observed, I would:  assign a named city Project Manager to be overall accountable for all the moving pieces/phases of the wastewater/ocean outfall project; develop a project plan and detailed milestones/timeline and roles/responsibilities; establish thresholds for approvals of change orders; put this project on every single Commissioner meeting agenda; and have the project manager report on the elements of the project plan, with an emphasis on cost and schedule in these meetings.  This information should be summarized and shared on social media channels with our residents.  I would also have a communication plan that clearly establishes dates for town halls, which would also include live streaming.  Bottom line:  I would ensure that a disciplined project management process is put into place and strictly adhered to.
Susan Gay:  For starters, it’s a totally different process. It’s funded by a loan from the state of Delaware, controlled by DNREC and the work will be done in a highly regulated environment, with specific protocols for handling construction and change orders. We are also partnering with Sussex County on the project. The city should provide fully transparent, accurate, and timely information throughout the project, slated to begin in October and be completed by the end of April 2018.
Kathy McGuiness:  Our of the gate it is already on a better track, because of the new norm and because we have the county partners .I am asking questions, extracting information and transparency. This is not a one man show, but a concerted effort amongst the commissioners with the county officials, who thankfully by partnering with us. Their established processes on projects, threshold for change orders and of course required transparency is a good model for us to follow. We will be required to submit a rolling budget for their review when requesting the millions we are subject to need.