Candidates for Mayor and city commissioner in Rehoboth Beach squared off Wednesday in a virtual candidate forum.
The Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce’s virtual forum faced a series of technical difficulties, including a power outage - but candidates running in the August 8th election were able to dive into issues.
4 candidates are vying for two commissioners spots while incumbent Mayor Paul Kuhns faces off against Stan Mills, a former commissioner.
A major point of contention was the city’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hugh Fuller, owner of the Purple Parrot and candidate for a commissioner seat, said the commission isn’t doing enough to help small businesses through what’s already been a lackluster summer season.
“If we don’t make it through these four months, keeping the vitality of the summer season going for us, we’re not gonna see the same landscape with the businesses that are gonna go through there.”
Mayor Kuhns defended the board saying they are doing what they can while a few other candidates sided with Fuller.
The issue was front and center after a huge decline in business in Rehoboth Beach over the past weekend. And the commission just voted this week to roll back mask requirements on the beach in response to businesses claiming the requirements were scaring away tourists.
Boardwalk safety was among the other issues debated - with many candidates expressing it needs to be a priority. Planning commission member Rachel Macha describes what she’s learned from resident surveys.
“We have had reports of some crime, some fights, a stabbing in the past. Urinating, honestly, on the Wilmington boardwalk area. So I do think that there’s an opportunity for police presence to help curtail that activity.”
CAMP Rehoboth and the Rehoboth Beach Homeowners Association host another virtual candidate forum on July 18th at 11 am.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.