Rep. Gerald Hocker’s vision of two at-large Sussex County Council members might be getting a little more clear.
House Bill 42, which would add two more positions to the county council, would call for those two new positions to be voted on countywide, as apposed to districts. Hocker’s hope is that those two would not be beholden to any particular area and would cast their votes based solely on the issues — not the constituents. The bill was approved on Wednesday by the House Housing and Community Affairs Committee, and now awaits action by the House of Representatives. If it passes, it would go to a Senate committee before being brought to a vote by the Senate. So, while this is by no means a done deal, one could see that it has at least some support.
So, why is this so important? Because it is specifically targeted to help our own community.
It’s good business for the county to approve developments and projects. Actually, it’s good business for all of us in the area. However, a prevailing thought in this community is that the council members only approve things to the east of Route 113 — thus bringing in tax dollars to the county coffers and keeping the new projects out of the backyards of most of the council members’ constituents.
Look at the votes. Of the five members on board, only George Cole covers our area exclusively. And, on most development votes, Cole finishes on the wrong end of a 4-1 score. Hocker hopes that adding two floating members who are accountable to the entire county would add some support to spreading out where development takes place.
No, we’re not naive. We realize this bill will probably get held up in a committee in the Senate without ever getting a chance to be voted on — yeah, we’ve seen this show before. But we feel it’s also important that our readers know exactly what’s happening — that they have an opportunity to voice their thoughts to state leaders if they like Hocker’s bill, or if they don’t.
We also know that, even with two floating members, the majority of new development requests presented to SussexCounty Council will come from our side of Route 113. We do have the water, afterall, and that’s always a selling point.
But we do ask that the process is fair. We ask that the bill be released from a Senate committee if it gets by the House so that our State Senate may vote. We’re not demanding they approve it, or order further studies ... we just want to see the bill have an honest chance, without any interference from particular senators in Dover.