Commissioner challenging long-time mayor for seat

Longtime Mayor Sam Cooper will be challenged by Commissioner Patrick Kuhns in the City of Rehoboth Beach municipal election Saturday.

Two commissioner seats are also up for election, with incumbent Commissioner Kathy McGuiness joined by newcomers Susan Gay and Lisa Schlosser in the race. Winners will serve three-year terms.

Kuhns ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2008 but is ready to give it another go after spending more time in the community. His campaign has advocated for a more open and transparent government. Kuhns co-owns several area restaurants and has the support of many Rehoboth business owners, like Dogfish Head’s Sam and Mariah Calagione.

Cooper drew the ire of Dogfish and its supporters in 2015 when he pushed back against the craft brewery’s request for a variance to remodel and expand its flagship Rehoboth Avenue brewpub. Dogfish was ultimately granted the variance, but the damage was done – Rehoboth business owners and residents alike were stunned by what they perceived as a lack of support for one of the town’s biggest draws.

However, for Rehoboth residents that prioritize its small-town charm and worry that alcohol could cause more harm than good, Cooper has a point. He’s betting voters are pleased with the state of the town and will credit his leadership.

Kathy McGuiness, a real estate agent, made a failed run for lieutenant governor last year but has since spent more and more time in the public eye and taken a more assertive stance as a Rehoboth Beach commissioner.

“I’m running again because I love my hometown and believe we must bring fiscal responsibility and open government back to the city,” McGuiness said. “I want to work with other commissioners, residents and business owners to help bring us into the future with responsible decision-making and forward thinking strategy. I want to be part of the team working to keep Rehoboth thriving and fiscally sound.”

Susan Gay and Lisa Schlosser are both transplants (from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., respectively) who fell in love with the city and now hope to serve it. Gay is a co-chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Trees and is passionate about preserving and expanding the city’s tree canopy and improving the way the city handles stormwater. Schlosser, a vocal supporter of Kuhns, is more concerned with fiscal matters, like budget control and potential state taxes on short-term rentals.