REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — This election cycle in Rehoboth sees three candidates running for two open seats on the Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners. The three candidates are Pat Coluzzi, Richard Byrne and Gary Glass.
Coluzzi, a lesbian former commissioner of Rehoboth who served from 2007 to 2013, has been a property owner in the town since 1994. She is the founder of Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market, a board member of the Center for the Inland Bays and a board member of the Lewes Rehoboth Canal Improvement Association. She is a former board member of Rehoboth Beach Main Street, was named the 2012 Rehoboth Beach Citizen of the Year, serves as president of the Rehoboth Beach Sister Cities Association and had a 30-year career in information technology.
“One of the things I think needs to be addressed is the parking issue in town,” Coluzzi said.
Coluzzi suggested the town needs more bike racks, shuttle buses that go into Rehoboth, a parking garage outside of town, different types of parking permits and other means of transportation. During her time as commissioner, Coluzzi started the implementation of a Bicycle Master Plan that provided for more locations around Rehoboth to have bike racks, wayfinding and on-road sharrows. Additionally, she created a plan for scooter parking in Rehoboth and began the process for modernizing payment for parking with ParkMobile.
“I am running for office because I feel I can contribute to making our city better,” wrote Coluzzi in the Cape Gazette. “I have a proven track record of successfully tackling a variety of issues over the years, and after a five-year break, I feel that I am uniquely positioned to address some of the issues that confront our city.”
In addition to finding a solution for parking, Coluzzi is looking to promote a plan that will beautify Rehoboth’s public parks and areas, create a tree ordinance that will preserve the town’s canopy along with providing for the right tree in the right place, foster an environment in which businesses can grow and be successful and create a plan that will make safety paramount for all pedestrians and bicyclists. She considers herself a “Community Candidate” and focuses on bringing the community together, citing her involvement with the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market as one example in which she was able to accomplish this.
Glass and his partner, Brian, have had a second home in Rehoboth for about 20 years, and he has been coming to Rehoboth for decades. Glass serves as a member of the Boardwalk and Beach Committee in Rehoboth and as treasurer of the Country Club Estates Property Owners Association. Glass has worked as a cost accounting analyst, been the director of finance for two non-profit associations and holds a bachelor’s in accounting and finance from Louisiana State University.
“I think there needs to be a lot more fiscal management and responsibility of this city,” Glass said.
Glass argues that Rehoboth cannot make rash decisions when it comes to funding. He questions how much debt the city is willing to take on and says that there needs to be a focus on tomorrow instead of today when dealing with fiscal management.
Glass also lamented exorbitant rent prices for the downtown business community. He says businesses are forced to close, leaving vacant buildings in the downtown area and called for Rehoboth to reinvest in its business community.
When it comes to parking, Glass says that Rehoboth cannot accommodate everyone who comes to visit Rehoboth because it is only one square mile. His approach to the issue is to enforce the rules that are in place and mentions that there are other options, such as parking on Route 1. Glass says the priority for parking should be for those who own homes in Rehoboth.
Other issues Glass seeks to address are the right of LLCs to vote in city elections, the need for an up-to-date storm water run-off system and having a master plan for Rehoboth’s commercial district.
Glass said LLCs should not have the right to vote because he says the community does not know anything about them. Glass also cites an LLC’s ability to avoid paying transfer taxes and how it has been a problem in Delaware. Glass noted that LLCs should own property as a trust or as a person to vote in Rehoboth. Glass does, however, think that LLCs can provide insight and valuable knowledge to the community.
“It’s not about what I want, it’s about what we as a community want,” Glass said. “If I’m elected, I want to represent what the people want.”
Byrne and his wife, Sherri Wright, have been coming to Rehoboth for more than 25 years. They became property owners and part-time residents in 2002 and full-time residents in 2009. Their three children and their families also love Rehoboth Beach and come to visit several times each year.
Byrne directed programs in 4-H, Family Consumer Science and Agriculture at two major universities across the states of Minnesota and Maryland. He serves as president of the Sussex Family YMCA Board of Governors, member of the Delaware YMCA Association Board of Directors, immediate past vice president of the Delaware SPCA Board of Directors and president of the Park Place on the Canal Home Owners Association. Additionally, Byrne serves as chair of the Animal Issues Committee and as a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Trees in Rehoboth.
“Parking policies need to be comprehensive,” Byrne said. “Research indicates that when one change is made, it affects other aspects of the entire parking system, often resulting in unintended consequences.”
Byrne says that it is important the community respects the work of the Parking Advisory Committee, which is looking at ways to manage meters, permits and bike and scooter parking. Byrne said that a report in the near future will be vital for future planning on a solution to the issue of parking.
When it comes to neighborhoods and businesses, Byrne says that he will work to insure the quality of life is maintained, infrastructure is maintained and improved, zoning codes are fairly and strictly enforced and that residential zoning is for residential living. For the environment, Byrne is looking to fix the storm water runoff problem, preserve the health of the fresh water lakes, protect and improve the parks, grow the tree canopy, create safer bike lanes and reduce traffic to make Rehoboth more pedestrian friendly. Byrne wants to livestream commissioner and other important public meetings, host informal ‘listening’ meetings, elicit participation on issues, foster communication and be available around town.
“If elected, I commit to working collaboratively with other commissioners, the mayor, city committees, residents and businesses on preserving our neighborhoods, protecting our environment and improving our infrastructure,” Byrne said. “I will listen to people all over the city, take their ideas and concerns to the commission, and communicate back to them about the city’s plans and actions.”
Rehoboth Beach will hold its annual municipal election on Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Convention Center located in the Municipal Building at 229 Rehoboth Ave. For any questions on the election, call 302-227-6181, ext. 108.