When Ocean View’s new mayor, John Reddington, asked outgoing Mayor Walter Curran what was involved in the position, Curran, in his unruffled manner, told him there were a couple meetings every month and a few checks to sign.
“That wasn’t true. I’ve been busy,” Reddington said, with the humor of understatement in his voice.
Since being sworn in on April 14, Reddington has been occupied answering e-mails from constituents and familiarizing with town issues. He conferred with mayors of Millville and Bethany Beach to “see if we can work on things both of our towns are interested in.”
With Millville Mayor Steve Maneri, he “went over possible issues to get town managers involved like coordinating events — Halloween and Christmas, things like that.
“We’re working on pedestrian safety along Route 26, pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes. We have, from my point of view, similar bike lanes that coordinate into Bethany Beach and Millville,” he said.
It’s spring, and that means Town Manager Carol Houck and staff are drafting the fiscal year 2021 annual budget, which is likely to be impacted by the coronavirus this year.
“Everything else seems to be in line. Our revenue seems to be in line but if you don’t collect all the taxes in a timely way that could change. We’ve been doing very well. We’ve been able to collect 99 percent of the taxes but that could change this year. If people can’t pay their mortgages, they might not be able to pay their taxes,” Reddington reasoned.
“As mayor, I don’t want to raise taxes. Nobody wants to raise taxes. I think that is an issue for the next two years, looking at our budget and if we can bring in revenue we expect we shouldn’t have to raise taxes for at least two years. After that I think we need to take a look and see what we’re doing and try to balance the budget without having to raise taxes,” he said.
He also plans to remain accessible. Constituents can reach him by e-mailing to email@example.com.
His logical manner has impressed Houck, who said it has been “a pleasure engaging and discussing matters of the town with the mayor, as well as benefiting from his insight and experience.”
“Prior to becoming mayor he attended our budget meetings and reached out for information about future initiatives, which has also resulted in a smooth transition as we begin our new fiscal year,” the town manager said.
Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, who knows Reddington from his many hours volunteering at the police station, under McLaughlin’s direction, called him “a good man” who will prove to be “an excellent mayor.”
Have they switched roles now, so that being mayor makes him McLaughlin’s boss?
“Not really. I still respect him. I listen to his advice. He returns my calls like he always has,” Reddington said.
“Everybody I was friendly with before I became mayor, I don’t see them treating me any different or putting me on a pedestal or anything,” he said.
Reddington, 72, a retired foreign service officer who was president of the Bear Trap home owners’ association for a few years and who has lived in Ocean View since 2012, considered running for Congress once, years ago, but his wife didn’t like the idea. Being mayor of Ocean View is different, he said.
“This is small-time politics in a little town and there isn’t the kind of receptions and things you have to do as the mayor of Ocean View that you would do at an embassy or as congressman or senator,” he said.
“I’m glad I did it. I wanted to be mayor and it happened,” he said.
He takes the responsibility seriously, and is taking a stand for protecting against COVID-19.
“I wear a mask any time I get out of my car. I think all of us need to follow the guidelines that have been laid out as far as social distancing, washing our hands, trying to be kind to each other and understand the older population is the one that is at risk and certainly to wear a mask to be sure we don’t pass this virus on,” he said.
“I had a heads up being on the Board of Adjustment. I am more involved in reviewing codes for different things and I was doing that already on the Board of Adjustment. I probably have less of a learning curve than maybe Walt did when he first went in,” Reddington said.
The Boston area native also had the advantage of meeting townsfolk when he portrayed Santa Claus at the town of Ocean View’s holiday event in December.
“Being mayor doesn’t feel difficult. I feel comfortable,” he said.
“I know everybody. We all get along. It’s like a normal day.”