John Bechtold is currently running for the Ward 2 seat on the Milford City Council against incumbent James Burk. See Mr. Burk’s answers here.
Occupation: Flight attendant
Educational Background: North Harford High School, Pylesville, MD
What do you think of Milford?
“Milford is culturally and socially diverse, which makes it a great hometown. After my time was finished with transport work out of Dover, I stayed! It has an outstanding opportunity to remain progressive, yet charming if we work hard, grow smart, and help each other. Milford can only live up to its fullest potential if we bring fresh ideas, new voices, solutions and community cooperation into play. Milford’s challenge is to blend its modern progressive future with the preservation of its history, charm and deep roots.”
How can Milford improve? What doesn’t need to be changed?
“We must improve by controlling our growth at a controllable rate. We need to look at our current infrastructure to assure it is ready for the proposed growth on the horizon. The opportunities on the horizon include the new Bayhealth facility, Nationwide nursing facility, and at Dover AFB a C-17 overhaul facility and the possibility of the Boeing 767 tanker program. However, unless we bring all of Milford up on curb appeal we will not attract new businesses, or families, or visitors. They will choose to establish homes and small businesses elsewhere. One of my ideas is to spruce up Milford with a town curb appeal. To reach our new Downtown Redevelopment District, you have to pass through some residential areas that are not that eye appealing. Some are in need of outside repair, a coat of paint, indoor furniture on porches, window broken. Let’s help give our hometown charm and curb appeal so people will want to visit, relocate or do business in our fair city. We can’t expect to draw top talent for our hospital or nursing facility when we send mixed signals as you drive into downtown.
“I would like to see our police department develop a community outreach division. This division could advise residences and business owners by making sure their facility is safe and for employees and customers and merchandise. This group would help homeowners with securing their property by advising their outdoor lighting, yard faults or anywhere there could be an opportunity for a burglar/home invasion.”
“Another area is making sure our senior residents have the services and security they need. Sometimes our seniors feel forgotten in a growing city. They have worked hard for many years and supported Milford. We need their knowledge and input in our growth plan, and we must be there for them.”
“There are many great ideas for Milford, however to be prepared for growth, we must concentrate on basics. Starting by focusing on our current residents and businesses, roads, schools, and emergency services. Only then can we be prepared for new growth. We can be reenergized but we must realize we will never be a vacation destination like the beach areas. In order to thrive we need to concentrate on our charm, history, and individualism. Then we can attract visitors to stop, shop and eat on their way to the beaches. We also have to be careful not to become a town of strip malls, traffic headaches and large chain stores. This will not set us apart from other towns and we will be a cookie-cutter town on the way through Delaware.”
How would you describe Milford’s climate toward business growth, job creation and financial stability?
“We are headed in the right direction as long as we pay attention to details. Job creation, and financial stability will come if we utilize what we already have at our disposal. These things include our river, riverfront, and surrounding areas. A daily drive down Walnut street shows one side of small business fronts, while the other side houses institutions which are not business which are usually closed dark or are used once a week. This gives our main street an appearance of emptiness. Jobs and income for all depend on town appeal and most importantly foot traffic between stores and restaurants. Building more strip malls which have empty storefronts are not the answer. We need to use our existing structures structure to house local artisans, culinary ventures, and cottage businesses. We also cannot neglect our surrounding farmers who contribute to our economy. This effort should extend not just to the downtown area but to all corners of Milford. It will take all citizens to get involved, provide input and support not just those in a position of power.”
With statewide budgetary problems, how do you think Milford should move forward?
“Before we can move forward we must make sure we are fiscally responsible to ensure when and if our state funding is reduced, we will not “feel the knife.” Several ideas for new revenue could include a proposed city dining/entertainment tax of three percent (i.e. $30.00 dining check would have a tax of $1.00). This could help boost our revenue in the busy season when drivers pass through as they head to the Delaware and Maryland beaches.
“We could be more aggressive on housing/zoning, especially those landlords who own properties who collect monthly rent but do not keep the exteriors presentable. This would also apply to tenants for sidewalk issues, overgrown fences, and lack of yard maintenance. Strip malls and building owners for not keeping trash out of parking lots, not enough trash receptacles or overflowing receptacles. This would hold true for apartment and townhouse complexes.
“Housing developers and builders make huge amounts of money on developing. Utility tie-ins, road changes, road widening, crowding schools and traffic should not be a burden. This puts stress on our infrastructure, therefore builders should supplement the city, or there will be more fees for a developer depending on the size of the community planned.”
What issues, in your opinion, are most pressing to Milford residents? Why?
“In the last month since I “threw my hat” in the election ring, citizens have expressed concerns of our rising crime rate, our utility prices, government transparency, and pet restrictions.
“First is our rising crime and home invasions. We have a vast community of resources to assist. We have many law enforcement retirees from surrounding large cities who reside in our area. We could use their input as consultants to our P.D. We help our police expand, modernize and stay abreast of currents trends. My P.D. outreach dept. would come into play.
“Second our utility bills. Our electric is $0.13 per kwh in summer and $0.14 per kwh in winter. If you live outside the city, you can have Delmarva, or Choptank with a range of 7.58 – 9.5 [cents] per kwh. Our Milford electric is great, and an excellent source of income for the city. That being said, it would help our current residents and businesses if we could reduce it even by $0.02. A rate reduction may even entice more new residents and businesses to come inside the city limits, instead staying on the outskirts. On the subject of Milford electric, I would urge you to research the proposed Efficiency Smart Energy Program that Milford is considering. I am against the huge startup costs the city would incur.”
Tell us about your volunteering and/or leadership roles?
“I currently a volunteer at Milford Memorial Oncology Center. I started in Oncology, spread to the ER, but eventually came back to the Cancer Center. I relate well with the Oncology patients and nurses, because I was a patient there in 2008-2010.”
What strengths and experiences will you bring?
“Although I have no political experience, I hope to bring a fresh voice and ideas to the council. Traveling globally for sixteen years I am able to relate to all groups and social statuses. All residents need a voice or an ear to lend an opinion, idea, or concern. I would like to be the voice and ears for Ward 2.”
What are you looking forward to learning?
“I look forward to learning our city operations, our goals, past successes, and current stumbling blocks. I look forward to lending a solution to give Milford a bold horizon and our residents peace of mind.”
Tell us about something of which you are most proud?
“I am most proud of my award from General John handy USAF, for outstanding support of Operations Iraqi Freedom. It was an honor to transport and oversee our military men, women and families for 16 years.”
What do you want to tell those in your district?
“Milford does not often have a contested election for city council. In many ways, the two candidates are alike. We are both hard-working, family loving individuals who share a great love and pride in our town. We see growth and development opportunities. However, one candidate believes experience is the difference. I believe the difference lies in new ideas and the voice of the people. You may notice that I do not, nor will I, ask for donations to my campaign. Simply put I, like most residents work hard to pay my bills and provide for my household. I know what it takes to make ends meet in an uncertain economy. In my opinion this is too much to ask of friends and neighbors. There are so many local organizations that could use contributions for a much better purpose.
“I also won’t blindly knock on your front doors; your time is precious. I do want to meet and listen to as many residents as possible but at a time and place convenient for you. This is why I will be appearing at places and events around town. If you have anything you feel important to you, your family, or friends, please let me know. I do have a Facebook page and an email address at Bechtold4Milford@yahoo.com. If you would like a sign for your window or business, please let us know.
“I am pleased to announce that I will celebrate the April birthdays at the monthly Senior Center Birthday luncheon. I am honored since I also have an April birthday. I encourage you to come have lunch and support the senior center. I look forward to meeting you April 13.”
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