Seaford City Council candidates gear up for election on April 21

By Lynn R. Parks

The city of Seaford will hold elections Saturday, April 21. Five people are vying for two seats on the city council. One incumbent, Orlando Holland, is looking for a second term on the council and former Councilwoman Pat Jones is hoping that voters return her to the seat she lost in 2014.

Newcomers to city politics are Shane Beard, Matt McCoy and James King.

The Seaford Star asked all of the candidates a series of questions about Seaford issues. Following are their answers.

Shane F. Beard

Q Do you feel that electricity rates in the city are fairly set? If not, what do you feel needs to be done to make them lower?
A The city strives to provide clean, reliable, economical power for all customers - no easy task.Overall, I have been amazed by the high level of service my family and I have received as homeowners here over the past 30 years.Everyone would like to enjoy ever-better quality at ever-lower prices, but there is only one path that I know of to achieve this universally desired outcome. Please permit my following technical assessment and opinion on this complex matter.Economies of scale are created where concentrations of primary businesses are high enough to foster such a demand for power that residents and smaller enterprises can experience a coat-tail effect that is substantial enough to provide consistency or even reductions in their rates vs. what is possible otherwise.Also, attracting and retaining businesses often hinges on electric rates.We need to provide a progressively scaled approach to incoming businesses that allows them to get their feet on the ground at lower rates that gradually increase to normal levels over the first few years.High initial rates are a barrier to entry that pushes business elsewhere - obviously, not at all what we need.What we absolutely need is a creative approach that provides ongoing competitive rates and high reliability without discouraging our local salvation, primary business growth and owner-occupied home growth.

Q Are you happy with the pace of redevelopment in downtown Seaford? Do you feel that the plans for the Seaford Towne Center, given preliminary approval by the city council in 2015, are achievable? Do you feel that theres anything else that the city could do to spur redevelopment?
A A vibrant, healthy downtown is what we all want.The only effective approach at redevelopment is rooted in attracting and retaining primary businesses to our area - not only within city limits.Drugs and prostitution are rampant downtown - I have witnessed such firsthand; these negatives must be displaced by first drawing new business ventures.Once we have enough business influx, the revitalization of our downtown will be organic, owner funded and based upon our new growth.Pushing a new downtown prematurely likely means we will get it wrong since we dont yet know whom we will need to serve.No good comes from putting our cart before our horse.Lets focus on sustainable business growth first, and the proud new face of our downtown will follow in due time without the inherent risk.

Q What do you feel the city can do to attract more jobs?
A The City needs to partner with other western Sussex communities to implore Sussex County and the State to draw business into the region that will offer large numbers of jobs.Most industrial park offerings and town resources are not sufficient to accommodate significant operations.When we get a few prime businesses in the area, the industrial parks will be inundated with secondary business interest and the resultant incoming clients to support the larger enterprises that committed before them. We need some big fish on the hook to pique the interest of such support companies.We cant make it on small operations alone. Weve suffered the consequences of trying to lure little fish for years; mostly, they dont last for very long.

Q How do you feel about Seafords new right-to-work ordinance, which forbids companies in the city from requiring that employees contribute to unions?
A Im proud to be a Seafordian in an era of the need for such an ordinance.Removing obstacles is imperative to drawing and keeping business.RTW states are hotbeds of current economic growth.Unions started when management refused to listen and show humanistic compassion to labor; they jumped the shark in some endeavors when they priced labor to an uncompetitive wage which drove jobs overseas.Free market forces are essential for a healthy economy.As technology continues to make the world smaller, all growth obstacles must be evaluated and properly dispositioned.

Q Do you feel that the city council should permit public comment during meetings? If so, how should it be regulated?
A Public comment is vital ongoing feedback.There should be 21 minutes allotted at every meeting with three minutes maximum per citizen.This should be regulated with a visible clock by a timekeeper.Decorum must be preserved as regulated by the Mayor or designee.The voice of the people is the most important one; we must never lose sight of this mutual respect.

Q How do you feel about the citys new rental licensing program, set to go into effect in July?
A Not all renters are bad/good, and not all landlords are good/bad.Basic regulation of rentals is necessary to assure that tenants get a fair deal vs. potential mistreatment by landlords.Also, such regulation protects tenants and landlords during disputes since licensure is predicated on unit conditions.Furthermore, landlords are protected from irresponsible tenants who trash units since there is a periodic known record created of satisfactory conditions prior to inhabiting.Without this mutual protection, inequities continue unchecked wherever either party is prone to abuse the relationship.

Q Please comment on some things that you feel are going right in the city.
A The new bright and efficient streetlights are awesome - virtually daylight at night wherever installed.Existing City taxes and fees have been totally stable for the past few years.SPDs highly responsive proactive policing whenever and wherever needed is a great asset throughout our dynamic town.There are many talented, compassionate individuals working on behalf of Seaford.Most importantly, the majority of the citizens of Seaford are hungry for good opportunities and very deserving of them.

Q What are some problems in the city that youd like to see addressed?
A I have addressed most of my views on this topic within the previous topics, so Ill keep this brief: drugs, prostitution, theft, other crime, lack of local jobs, and the gross imbalance of property ownership vs rentals.I dont wish to belabor the issues. Almost all of our concerns will be addressed by becoming singularly focused on drawing good businesses to our city and proximity which will gradually displace the current issues by expanding opportunities.The best defense is a good offense. We must swiftly move forward with this in mind vs remaining steeped in our many challenges.

Q Why do you want to be a city councilman?
A I was born here, raised here, moved my wife here, raising kids here, have great friends and family here, want to stay here, want to help make it great here, again.At 52 years of age, Ive seen such a wide array of success and failure in our town.Much of our success was bestowed upon us by a massive industry that needed a river and labor but has now all but exited which has dealt us ongoing failure to overcome.Today, we have the gift and challenge of finding our next defining opportunities for sustenance and growth for our people.A town is all about people, not structures and bureaucracy.Take the people away, and we have nothing.We cannot continue to allow our town to be negatively transformed by circumstances and past missteps. Together, we must make our way to sustainable success through attracting businesses to serve which will, in turn, serve us. I want to help lead that charge, not for me, but for all of us who will vow to put some reasonable measure of consistent action behind what we dare to dream.

Orlando Holland

Q Do you feel that electricity rates in the city are fairly set? If not, what do you feel needs to be done to make them lower?
A Yes, I feel that electric rates could be lower. A recent comparison of rates in the area, though, showed that Seafords are not the highest. The council has voted to not raise property taxes, or water and sewer rates, to try to compensate for the electric costs. The council will strive to continue to find ways to pass savings on to citizens.

Q Are you happy with the pace of redevelopment in downtown Seaford? Do you feel that the plans for the Seaford Towne Center, given preliminary approval by the city council in 2015, are achievable? Do you feel that theres anything else that the city could do to spur redevelopment?
A I would like to see the redevelopment move faster, and Seaford grow so we can have somewhere to go within our town and something to do without having to go somewhere else.

Q What do you feel the city can do to attract more jobs?
A The real estate company Sperry Van Ness is working with the mayor, council, city manager and economic development committee to promote the city to businesses.

Q How do you feel about Seafords new right-to-work ordinance, which forbids companies in the city from requiring that employees contribute to unions?
A Right-to-work was voted on unanimously to set the foundation for potential businesses to look at starting a company here. It wasnt put in place to hurt or hinder anyone.

Q Do you feel that the city council should permit public comment during meetings? If so, how should it be regulated?
A Public comment was decided to be taken away for now. There is always a possibility it may be voted to resume in the future. Hopefully, more people will be interested in participating.

Q How do you feel about the citys new rental licensing program, set to go into effect in July?
A The rental license was reviewed by a former mayor and city council because it rentals in the city were becoming a problem. Now the problem has grown. Mayor Genshaw and the city manager felt that it was time to get a handle on a problem that was getting out of control. After hours of consulting, we realized that Seaford was one of just a few towns that didnt have a rental license in place. Even though we are not a fan of raising taxes, it was decided it was something that needed to be in place. A committee was formed; members included real estate agents, property owners, the mayor and the vice mayor. It was suggested that the fee start at $50 a year, compared to fees in other area towns, which start at $125. I think that, like anything else, its going to take work to make it successful. I feel that the mayor, the city manager and the council are ready for the task at hand.

Q Please comment on some things that you feel are going right in the city.
A With the experience that [former city manager] Dolores Slatcher left behind, and with the new leadership, I think that good things are set to come to Seaford. Those include the new sewer line planned to connect Seaford and Bridgeville, along U.S. 13, and the new electrical substation.

Q Why do you want to be a city councilman?
A I would like to be reelected to serve the city of Seaford again. I want to continue to be there for you and fight for you as well as myself, as we all live in the same place. Since I have been on the council, I have taken an interest in the work that is involved in helping people the best that I can.

Pat Jones

Q Do you feel that electricity rates in the city are fairly set? If not, what do you feel needs to be done to make them lower?
A I do not feel like the Citys electric rates are computed fairly. Many of the residents that Ive spoken with feel the same way. This seems to be especially a great concern in subsidized housing. The electric rates in most households are triple the price of their rentals, making it hardly affordable. The solutions may be a dual effort, in making sure every meter reading is accurate. Also, to offer each dwelling an energy efficient inspection.

Q Are you happy with the pace of redevelopment in downtown Seaford? Do you feel that the plans for the Seaford Towne Center, given preliminary approval by the city council in 2015, are achievable? Do you feel that theres anything else that the city could do to spur redevelopment?
A The 2015 enthusiasmfor redevelopment of Downtown Seaford seems to be moving slower and lower on the priority list! I feel like old the vision needs new visionaries. Hopefully, bringing refreshing and innovative ideas to the project will help our downtown thrive once again.

Q What do you feel the city can do to attract more jobs?
A The city needs do much more to attract jobs.Perhaps partnering with high school and college graduates to promote small businesses; offering incentives to existing businesses for expansion and renovations; co-sponsoring job fairs with local, state and government organizations.

Q How do you feel about Seafords new right-to-work ordinance, which forbids companies in the city from requiring that employees contribute to unions?
A I am not sure how the right to work is beneficial to all employees. I feel like it may be taking away the rights of an individual or a group when they need it the most.

Q Do you feel that the city council should permit public comment during meetings? If so, how should it be regulated?
A I often felt like the constituents should have a platform to speak at council meetings. Perhaps it can be scheduled for the second meeting of the month. If the council has been elected to represent the needs of the city, then they should hear what the people have to say. Good, bad or indifferent. Every conversation should be welcomed. After all, its a public, not a private, forum.

Q How do you feel about the citys new rental licensing program, set to go into effect in July?
A I dont think the rental license agreement is going to be a smooth transition. It was on the table many times and failed. It will generate revenue and create a full time challenge to keep up with all the regulations.

Q Please comment on some things that you feel are going right in the city.
A I feel like the City headed in an extraordinary direction, taking on a new city manager and chief of police in the same year. I am also hopeful to see new members on council as well.

Q What are some problems in the city that youd like to see addressed?
A Im totally devastated by the homelessness and the drug addictions that have gripped our city. The number of deaths due to overdoses are at alarming rates. I am very concerned about the unemployment rate. Unfortunately, all of thesecircumstances seem to cause more burglaries and home invasions.

Q Why do you want to be a city councilwoman?
A Pat is running for Progress! As a lifetime resident and former councilwoman, I successfully served on the Seaford City Council from 2002-2014. I was knownas a positive voice for change. I plan on bringing back, commitment, diversity, leadership, dedication, innovation and energy to our city council.

James King

Q Do you feel that electricity rates in the city are fairly set? If not, what do you feel needs to be done to make them lower?
A - I feel that the residential kilowatt per hour (kWh) rate may appear high when compared to other providers in the state of Delaware.

I feel by growing the commercial electricity usage, we could lower the residential rate. This could be accomplished through growing our commercial customer base by bringing in new business (agricultural, industrial, retail, manufacturing). By creating a higher output need for commercial electricity/tax base, we could potentially offset and lower costs of residential electricity.

The city could seek alternate resources to reduce the amount of energy used and pass the savings to their customers (solar, wind and maybe water power generator). Q Are you happy with the pace of redevelopment in downtown Seaford? Do you feel that the plans for the Seaford Towne Center, given preliminary approval by the city council in 2015, are achievable? Do you feel that theres anything else that the city could do to spur redevelopment?
A I feel that we had a lot of wind behind our sails when this first started but it looks like we may lost our momentum. Development seems to be at a standstill. This is our historic district and it is on the Nanticoke River. We have a lot of small business owners in this area and I feel that the city must advocate more for them. We need to promote our downtown district. Tourism is a $3 billion a year business for the state and our location right on the Nanticoke River could be a draw for tourists and their dollars. This area could be like a Berlin or St. Michaels. Lets ask questions and talk to other towns that are growing. Lets learn more about their successes and see what we could possibly apply here in Seaford. I feel that parking is a major obstacle for downtown small businesses and that needs to be addressed. We must promote our small town charm and feel. Perhaps a microbrewery or some other attraction would help draw in more visitors who would like to enjoy our downtown area.

Q What do you feel the city can do to attract more jobs?
A Offer incentives to businesses thinking about locating here such as a reduction of the impact fees, sidewalks, bus stops, etc. Some downtown revitalization efforts in other areas have included contests for reduced rental fees or other incentives to bring in new businesses. We may need some out-of-the-box thinking to help attract new businesses to Seaford. Create a marketing specialist promoting our city and what we have to offer. Hire a city advocate, someone to reach out and have daily conversations with different companies and corporations. What is it going to take to get them here? A daily conversation! Expand health care and care for the elderly.

Q How do you feel about Seafords new right-to-work ordinance, which forbids companies in the city from requiring that employees contribute to unions?
A - I am in support of the ordinance as long as it is done lawfully. I feel that we must create an environment that will attract companies for job growth. Employees will still have the opportunity to join a union if that is what they choose to do but this would give them a choice. Twenty-five states currently have those laws. Statistics shows that income and job growth have increased more quickly in right-to-work states.

Q Do you feel that the city council should permit public comment during meetings? If so, how should it be regulated?
A Yes. I feel that it is very important to have the public (our community) participate in the city council meetings. I feel a time slot could be added at the beginning or near the end of the meeting. I feel that feedback, comments, suggestions and ideas should be welcomed. I would also encourage public panels and advisory councils. By creating this type of environment, I feel more people will get more involved. This would help create a sense of pride/ownership in our city. I feel that city council members should be an extension/representation of the citizens of our city. This is why I have listed my personal cell phone number on all of my campaign material because I want to hear the citizens voices. Neighborhood Leaders working to make life better for the people of Seaford!

Q How do you feel about the citys new rental licensing program, set to go into effect in July?
I had the opportunity to sit on the Mayors Rental License Committee as this program was being explored. It was a very diverse group. I had a firsthand experience of hearing all of the pros and cons. I am in full support of the city holding landlords accountable and preventing slum lords but I dont feel there needs to be a new licensing program to make this happen. Based on the numbers is a very small percent of the total numbers of rentals to begin with, around 5 percent of the total retail units. I feel that the city currently has the resources in place (code enforcement and ordinances) to enforce this without creating an additional program and expense to the landlords. I feel with the creation of this program and the additional expenses to the landlords this will cause the rent to go up for the tenants. The landlord will have to offset the additional expenses associated with the rental licensing program. I feel that Seaford needs more affordable housing and this program is working against this. When you add in water and sewer fees which the landlord pays along with some landlords offering trash service, and lawn care in addition to any regular maintenance, these fees associated with the rental licensing may force landlords to increase their rental charges. Some landlords also are already paying for property managers, too.

Q Please comment on some things that you feel are going right in the city.
A Commercial water and sewer going in on Rt. 13. This will help bring in much-needed businesses/industries to our community. The completion of the new substation. These enhancements and improvements are vital to the stability of the systems. Police department. Awesome group of individuals who provide around-the-clock service to the people of our community! Fire department. Awesome group of dedicated volunteers providing fire, rescue, and emergency services 24/7 along with dedicated paramedics/EMTs providing much needed emergency medical care. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is an award-winning, non-profit community hospital providing comprehensive care to our community. Includes over 160 healthcare providers practicing in over 40 different specialties. We are very fortunate to have a top-notch hospital right here in our city. Churches and civic organizations. We have many different churches and civic organizations working together throughout our city to help people in need.

Q What are some problems in the city that youd like to see addressed?
A - When engaged with our residents, as Ive walked door to door, Ive heard many concerns about the following: Drug / prostitution problems within our community. Multiple families living in a single-family home. Our economy lack of jobs Health and well-being of our city. Too many abandoned buildings and vacant homes in prominent areas throughout our city. This hurts the perception of our city. You only get one chance for a first impression. As investors and new families drive through our community, this is what they see before they make their decision. Seaford High School rating. This is one of the deciding factors if a family moves into our city. Too many rentals vs. home ownership We need a dog park New home construction. There is very little to none happening here in Seaford. We continue to lose a lot of our history with the tearing down of historical buildings. Once it is gone, it can never be replaced. Young adults need more activities and things to do here in Seaford.

Q Why do you want to be a city councilman?
A - I am a lifelong Seaford resident. I was born here, raised here and will be laid to rest here. I care very deeply about our community. I have the desire to give back to our city and make a difference. I am a business minded individual with a proven track record. I have a vision for our city. I am focused on positive change and growth for my hometown. I have fresh Ideas and creative solutions. I am a very hard-working, passionate person with who cares very deeply for our city! Not only do I have personal reasons for running, I also have financial reasons. Besides being a home owner, Kristi and I have several investment properties throughout the city. I am also a civic-minded person committed to serving the citizens of Seaford. I believe as a council member we are an extension of our community. I will have the citys best interests in mind at all times. I am a person who can ask the hard question to ensure the taxpayers are getting their moneys worth. I feel that I would be a positive reflection for our city and I would vote for what is best for our city.

Matt MacCoy

Q Do you feel that electricity rates in the city are fairly set? If not, what do you feel needs to be done to make them lower?
A - The citys electric rates have been a point of great conjecture for many of those who live in Seaford. As a Seaford resident, I want our bills to be as cost-effective as possible. Some may object in regards to the current rates, but we have to take into account that nine of the 11 Delaware electric utilities have implemented a customer charge, and the city has chosen the lowest rate available. Furthermore, our electric department personnel do a phenomenal job and are out there in full force when we face inclement weather. I will always push to lower the rates for the people of Seaford, but at this time, my assessment is that the current rates are fairly set.

Q Are you happy with the pace of redevelopment in downtown Seaford? Do you feel that the plans for the Seaford Towne Center, given preliminary approval by the city council in 2015, are achievable? Do you feel that theres anything else that the city could do to spur redevelopment?
A - Anytime businesses leave the area it is a bit of a setback. By some businesses relocating, such as Weatherd Treasures moving to Bridgeville and the Chamber of Commerce moving out to the highway, it doesnt help downtown Seaford. These particular moves may be for the best for the business or organization, but it leaves downtown with additional holes to fill. That being said, I do feel that downtown Seaford has a very bright future and that the preliminary approval by the city council for the Seaford Towne Center is achievable and can be realized. John Hollis challenges me frequently to THINK BIG and that is exactly what I encourage the people of Seaford to do. A vision of a redeveloped downtown, featuring a shopping strip, restaurants, hotels, and more can spur commerce and drive the economy in a positive direction.

Q What do you feel the city can do to attract more jobs?
A - First, we have to take care of our own backyard before we invite other businesses in. Are businesses going to be motivated to move into downtown Seaford if they see drugs being sold or crimes being committed? Continuing to keep our foot on the gas in fighting drugs in this city will go a long way. We need to be aggressive in our approach in contacting small to medium-size businesses in order to discuss expanding or moving into Seaford. There was a time in the past where Seaford could sit back and wait for businesses make the first move. That time has come and gone. There is too much competition out there attracting burgeoning businesses. We have to make the phone calls. We have to be the ones making the connections with business owners. We have to show prospective business partners that Seaford is motivated to partner with them, that we want a relationship, and that we will be there to support them. Not only do we need to take this approach with new businesses, but also our current businesses in town.

Q How do you feel about Seafords new right-to-work ordinance, which forbids companies in the city from requiring that employees contribute to unions?
A I come from a family that worked in an industry that was unionized and have great respect and admiration for unionized industries. If you state that you are for the right-to-work ordinance, what many people hear is that you are anti-union. That is not the case in my particular view. I am not anti-union. I am pro economic development. Seaford doesnt just need more jobs. We need better paying jobs; jobs that you can support a family on and that provides quality benefits to their employees. The right-to-work ordinance provides the opportunity to boost the local economy, attracts additional investment opportunities, and creates more jobs. Right-to-work states, on average, have greater economic growth, a lower unemployment rate and lower taxes. I feel this is a step that we are taking to drive additional commerce into Seaford.

Q Do you feel that the city council should permit public comment during meetings? If so, how should it be regulated?
A - I am a big believer that the people of Seaford have a voice. I want to encourage people to get involved, to attend council meetings, and to speak during the meetings. However, I do feel that there should be regulations in place. If the public wishes to speak on a particular item on the agenda, they should be provided that opportunity. This should not be an opportunity to take personal attacks at any representative or to push individual agendas. Furthermore, I believe in being transparent to the people of Seaford. I would like to look into broadcasting or taping the council hearings so that people can partake and listen to the proceedings if they are unable to attend in person.

Q How do you feel about the citys new rental licensing program, set to go into effect in July?
A I feel the new rental licensing program is necessary. The rental licensing program is designed to not only protect tenants, but landlords as well. The program will ensure that all properties are up to code and will benefit all parties involved. I have heard objections from those saying that the fee in this program affects them dramatically, and affects their tenants as well. On that particular point, I understand their point of view. My proposal is a clause that allows the landlord to apply for a reimbursement on the fee if the property passes inspection.

Q Please comment on some things that you feel are going right in the city.
A Throughout the past year, I have had the privilege of attending every city council meeting. It was at these meetings that I discovered the incredible endeavors the council has achieved and continues to actively build upon. These are exciting times for the city of Seaford. We have a new city manager, a new police chief, and on April 21, new council members. We have amazing city employees, from the fine people at city hall, to our dedicated police force, to our volunteer fire department, and the list goes on. The best thing that Seaford has going for it is the people. One thing that this campaign has taught me is that there is a passion in Seaford. The notion that people just dont care could not be more false. There are many people who are incredibly giving of their time, their finances, and their efforts in order to benefit others. People have been and are continuing to serve organizations such as Love Inc., Teen Challenge, Square One, and the Boys and Girls Club, just to name a few. The best thing that Seaford has going for it is the people who believe in this city.

Q What are some problems in the city that youd like to see addressed?
A Some of the issues we hit on in the earlier questions. We need to continue to crack down on crime and work on eliminating drugs from our streets. We need to continue to bring additional businesses into Seaford and provide them with the type of support and partnership that they are looking for. In my conversations with people in the city, they want a representative who will stop and listen to their concerns. They want to feel more involved in the decision making process. I only want to encourage this type of relationship and dynamic.

Q Why do you want to be a city councilman?
A I believe that I can make a difference on the city council. I look at situations and issues that this city faces from a different perspective. I have a business mindset, an aggressive mindset, and I believe that I can be effective talking with businesses about moving into the Seaford area. The strength of this city is within the people. I believe in the concept of talking with people and having an appreciation for their opinion and their standpoint. I believe in leadership, and bringing people together for the common good. My wife and I have four children and we want to raise them in the Seaford area. We want to make Seaford a better place than it was when we got here. Ultimately, isnt that everyones wish, to leave a lasting legacy behind? If I can leave you with one thing, I want to do the right thing for the people of Seaford.

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