In Rehoboth's Mayor's race, what do signs really mean?

In Rehoboth’s mayor race, what do the signs really mean?

Cape Gazette "Barefootin" editorial July 22


S
tandard campaign signs usually involve bright colors, a candidate’s name and the office being sought. Occasionally, as in this year’s mayoral race in Rehoboth Beach, the signs for both candidates – incumbent Sam Cooper and challenger Tom Mc-Glone – include slogans that help define the candidates’ campaigns.

Challenger McGlone’s signs proclaim: “ Change the tone.” Incumbent Cooper’s signs say: “ A mayor for ALL of Rehoboth.” So, what do those slogans mean? To get at the heart of the matter, I called both candidates Wednesday, separately, and asked them what their own slogan means and what they think their opponent’s slogan means.

I called McGlone first.

“ What I mean by change the tone is getting the commissioners to work together through leadership from the mayor,” said McGlone. “ Rehoboth should have a customer- based service model so people are treated with respect. The tone should establish an approach that looks for solutions to problems versus throwing up obstacles. I don’t think we have that tone now, and it should be changed.”

As for what Cooper’s signs mean, McGlone said: “ He’s using the same signs he used three years ago – to use up the signs he already had.”

“ But what does the ALL in capital letters mean?” I asked.

“ I think,” said McGlone, “ he’s trying to emphasize the fact that he feels I don’t represent all of Rehoboth. Many people feel offended by that because they don’t feel he is being inclusive – that he doesn’t represent some segments of the community.”

“ Is that the gay community you’re referring to?” I asked.

“ Not just the gay community,” said McGlone. “ Businesses too.

As for the gay versus straight issue, I had someone tell me they overheard a city employee telling someone that this election was gays versus straights. I called City Manager Greg Ferrese and assured them that my candidacy was not about gay versus straight and asked him to go to all of the city employees and tell them that this is not what this is about. I’m trying hard to stay above it all and stay focused on issues that involve all of Rehoboth. Many people have told me that Sam’s signs are not applicable to them. They don’t feel included or represented.”

What does Tom McGlone’s campaign slogan mean to Sam Cooper? “ I suppose it means he feels – you know tone is a good word – he feels that the interaction between the commissioners and the city staff could be improved.

I’ve been mayor for 21 years and I think we’ve had a good run.

Last year was hell and I lay it all at [ Commissioner] Dennis Barbour’s feet. In the last several weeks I started challenging him.

He’s intimidating employees.

He says they’re using selective enforcement without stating facts. I’m wondering whether withdrawing from the commissioners’ race frees him up to come after me. He forced a vote when the Village Improvement Association came to the city with a $ 25,000 request. I think the VIA does great work but I don’t think it should be done with city money.

“ This is not about issues. It’s about personal destruction,” said Cooper. “ Yes, the tone needs to be changed, but there comes a time when you have to defend yourself and defend your employees. How do you get to 21 years if public relations sucks?” As for the meaning of his campaign signs, Cooper confirmed what McGlone said: “ Being tight and frugal with my own money as I am with the city’s money, I am reusing the signs I used three years ago. I do try to represent all the interests in Rehoboth: residential, commercial, gay and straight. I listen to everyone and try to make decisions based on the whole.”

McGlone said there are about 1,500 registered voters in Rehoboth. In the last election, about 1,100 cast their ballots.

When the voters go to the polls on Saturday, Aug. 13, the question is whether they will go with McGlone to change the tone, or agree with Cooper that he does represent all of Rehoboth.