After Milford Mayor Joseph “Ronnie” Rogers announced his retirement earlier this year, three candidates, Jim Oechsler Jr., Betty Lou Schiedenhelm and Bryan Shupe have been campaigning for the last couple months, working to garner support for the mayoral election on Saturday, April 26.
In less than a week, Milford residents will cast their ballots to elect a new mayor, who will be sworn in May 5.
After Milford Mayor Joseph “Ronnie” Rogers announced his retirement earlier this year, three candidates, Jim Oechsler Jr., Betty Lou Schiedenhelm and Bryan Shupe have been campaigning for the last couple months, working to garner support for the election on Saturday, April 26.
But regardless of which candidate wins the seat, issues like economic development and downtown growth are universal concerns among business owners and residents.
“We’re basically looking forward to a new mayor because the three candidates that are running are all very passionate and they’re looking for a change, too,” said Jo Schmeiser, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford. “We’re looking at what they want to do not only for business, but for the community and the quality of life here in Milford.”
Schmeiser said that high electric rates, a topic addressed at the CCGM mayoral forum and the NAACP mayoral debate, needs to be addressed by the new mayor.
“The never-ending, for larger business and residential, electric issue, that’s always been the elephant in the room and continues to be,” Schmeiser said. “And also having any type of business incentives to be more attractive for business coming here and business staying here.”
In addition to electric rates, business incentives and economic development, Downtown Milford, Inc. President SaraKate Hammer hopes the next elected mayor continues to work on downtown development as Mayor Joseph “Ronnie” Rogers did in past years.
“I would like to see the new mayor help DMI to promote the downtown, the Riverwalk and our offerings to the areas outside of Milford and outside Delaware to encourage tourism, shopping and investment in the city, all while keeping an eye on healthy, sustained growth that keeps our town unique for all the ways we love it,” Hammer said. “DMI does not advocate for immediate changes in the city as soon as the new mayor takes office, but rather we hope the new mayor will evaluate our current situations with an educated eye and steer us toward the future.”
Milford resident Ron Shockley, who moved to Milford 11 years ago to be closer to friends, said that while he’s happy with Milford’s current state, whoever is elected mayor needs to work to keep the city safe and continue support for downtown areas.
“I think the Riverwalk project is going to be a fine asset to the community,” said Shockley, who believes continued support and collaboration with the Milford Police Department is also important to keeping downtown areas, like the Riverwalk, safe.
“I’ve walked about 300 miles in downtown Milford since 2012. I even do it at night,” Shockley said. “I think what keeps it this way is the police department. I feel safe.”
A total of 2,657 residents are registered to vote in the April 26 mayoral election. Four City Council seats were also open to a race this year, but the four incumbents, Garrett L. Grier III in Ward One, S. Allen “Skip” Pikus in Ward Two, Douglas E. Morrow Sr. in Ward Three, and Katrina E. Wilson in Ward Four, all re-filed unopposed. The four council seats, as well as a new mayor, will be sworn in at 7 p.m. May 5.
If Shupe, who currently serves as the councilman for Ward 1, is elected, a special election for his council seat will be held from 12 to 8 p.m. June 14.