The 28-year-old co-owner and editor-in-chief of a local, online news site is one of four men who have filed their candidacy for the four Milford City Council seats up for election this spring.
Bryan Shupe, who co-founded the website Milford Live in 2010, is currently the only non-incumbent seeking a seat on council in the April 27 election.
“I feel Milford is at a very critical point in its history, where we need to decide what the next 25 years are going to look like,” the 2002 Milford High School graduate said via email. “We need to have a proactive, but balanced, approach to decisions about our economy, agriculture, infrastructure and quality of life issues.”
A resident of the Meadows at Shawnee neighborhood, Shupe is seeking the Ward One seat currently held by two-term incumbent Steve Johnson, who has not filed for re-election.
Johnson, who works for ILC Dover, could not be reached for comment.
Although this is Shupe’s first foray as a candidate, he’s no stranger to politics. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Delaware in 2007, he spent two years working for the state Republican Party as a field operator in charge of volunteer efforts in Kent and Sussex counties.
Shupe returned to Milford in 2009 and launched Milford Live with fellow city native Dave Burris in 2010.
“[We] wanted to provide a news outlet for our hometown of Milford that was rooted in traditional journalism, but used new technology to reach Milfordians,” he said. “My experience in the business and non-profit worlds, and my lifelong relationship with the citizens of Milford will guide my decisions on city council.”
Shupe currently serves on the board of directors for the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club and Downtown Milford Inc, and is an active member of the city’s economic development advisory panel.
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford named him its Citizen of the Year in 2012 and named Milford Live its New Member of the Year in 2011.
Shupe said he would continue as editor-and-chief and co-owner of the news site if elected to council.
“A freelance writer will continue to be responsible for any official town business and will report directly to our publisher, Dave Burris,” he said. “Our company has proven that we are capable of delivering unbiased, fact-driven news and we will continue to do so.”
University of Delaware communications professor Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN world affairs correspondent who currently serves as director of the university’s Center for Political Communication, said he sees nothing wrong with the editor of a news organization seeking public office.
“Journalists don’t give up their constitutional rights, and … can run for president of the United States or any other office, the same as anyone else,” he said. “It might be uncomfortable, but it’s not wrong.”
Begleiter said it would be up to the public to determine whether a news source owned by an elected official is biased, and if so, whether that bias even matters.
“Fox News doesn’t pretend to be unbiased, and everyone knows their slogan of fair and balanced is baloney, but that bias is exactly why people like it.” he said. “I think people are capable of determining whether the information they’re getting is objective or valid.”
If elected, Shupe said he would focus on promoting the city’s ongoing downtown revitalization efforts, creating more recreational opportunities on the Mispillion River and partnering with institutions of higher learning to develop continuing education programs in the Milford area.
“Historically, Milford has experienced the loss of many of our young leaders, as they move to other areas in search of better careers and future opportunities,” he said. “We need to take a look at why our young leaders continue to leave and how we can build an environment for them to sustain a happy, successful life here.”’
Other candidates who have filed to run for a two-year term on city council include incumbents Dirk Gleysteen in Ward Two, Douglas Morrow in Ward Three and James Starling in Ward Four.
The deadline for candidates to file is 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 26.
MORE INFO ABOUT CITY ELECTIONS
Two city council seats represent each of Milford’s four wards with one of the two seats in each ward up for election every year.
Only voters listed on Milford’s voter registration logs are eligible to cast ballots in the city’s election.
Registrations can be filed at Milford City Hall, 201 S. Walnut St., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, through 4:30 p.m. March 28.
To register, applicants must present verification of identity and residence or proof that they own property in town and/or the relevant ward.
Milford allows non-resident property owners to cast ballots in municipal elections.
Anyone planning to vote by absentee ballot should call the city clerk’s office at (302) 424-3712 to obtain an affidavit.