John D. Bechtold is sprouting his political wings.
The Milford resident and long-time pilot said he wants to make changes in the city, and his first stop is city council.
Bechtold will face incumbent James Burk of Ward 2 in the April 22 council election.
He spent 17 years working for the Air Mobility Command in Dover and 23 years working for Republic Airlines.
He said it’s time for change.
“We need some fresh blood to get involved,” Bechtold said. “I mean, look at the attendance at meetings. People don’t come out unless it affects them.”
Bechtold said he is impressed with some of the decisions city officials have made, but he expressed concern about taxes and abandoned houses.
“I see some great things,” he said. “But I think they are putting the cart before the horse on some issues.”
He’s adamant about doing something about the city’s abandoned houses.
“You’re not going to drive people to the riverfront when you drive into town and you’re passing rundown houses,” he said. “People might consider that sketchy. You’re defeating the purpose of spending money on the riverfront.”
Bechtold has discussed taxes at the city and school district levels with residents, he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people question me about school taxes — that’s a hot topic,” he said.
Burk had civic experience before running for city council. He spent eight years on the planning commission before starting his term April 25, 2015. He said he originally ran for election because he wanted to move on to something different and be in a position to have more influence.
Like Bechtold, he’s concerned about the tax burden on residents.
“One of the major issues facing Milfordians is taxes and possible tax increases,” he said. “I’m going to fight and make sure we have a balanced budget as required, but without having to increase taxes.”
He’s worked on two city budgets, so Burk is confident in his ability to get it right.
“We’ve been very mindful this year to try and keep costs down,” he said. “I have experience in the private and public sectors as well as with budget creations. I think that is going to be one of the most important topics.”
He expressed concern about the school district’s tuition tax increase.
As a city councilman, he’s looking forward to the city growth that will come from the new Bayhealth Sussex Campus. While he supports it, he wants Milford to maintain its identity.
“We don’t want to lose the small town aspect of Milford while we are in the process of growing,” he said.
Residents can vote from noon to 8 p.m. April 22 at Milford City Hall, 201 S. Walnut St.