Letters - March 4, 2005

Re-zoning of Sussex County not a simple task

It appears a topic of the moment is the possibility of Sussex County Council elections taking on an entirely new format. The proposed new system would allow all Sussex Countians to vote for all councilmen up for re-election, regardless of where they reside. This has come about by the desire of a group of activists, primarily in the Lewes-Rehoboth area, but with some sentiment throughout the coastal region. The claim is that eastern Sussex is under-represented on the council, and that if everyone could vote in each councilmatic race, the higher population trend of the resorts would nearly guarantee the election of politicians from the east.

The legal argument is based on the vagueness of language within the election code that describes who can vote in county council races. General Assembly attorneys have been unable to determine if the state law is clear on this point. Now the Attorney General’s office is investigating the matter. Should the Attorney General also suggest that the law is at least ambiguous, and then the State’s Supreme Court could be asked to make a judgment. Following this judgment, State law would hopefully be clear, and the election will proceed in the fashion described by the court.

Personally, I think folks should be careful what they ask for. There is no assurance that countywide voting is going to concentrate more electoral power on the coast. During the re-districting of county council in 2000, a similar group of coastal activists suggested district lines should run east-west so that the folks in eastern Sussex could vote in the same races as central and western Sussex Countians. In an effort to satisfy, the county council adopted new district lines for my seat in an east-west configuration. The voters saw fit to give me a majority of the votes in 13 out of 14 election districts in the subsequent election. My opponent achieved victory in only one election district, her home district, and then only by six votes. The Fifth Councilmatic District now encompasses the entire bottom section of the county from the Mason Dixon Line to the Atlantic Ocean. I’d like to think that voters are not so shallow as to discriminate based on geography. I make every effort to spread my service equally throughout the district, but if I am told that I will have to run countywide, then that is what I will do. My politics are based on principles that embody the traditional values of Sussex Countians. I will raise the money to effectively communicate these traditional values and put my faith in the hearts and minds of all of Sussex County. On the other hand, if the current system prevails, I will continue to knock on doors of the good folks of Millsboro, Selbyville, Fenwick Island, Delmar and all parts in between. In the meantime, I look forward to the healthy debate that this issue has inspired, and will continue to work for all Sussex Countians, regardless of which election system is selected.

There is a sea change taking place in Sussex County today. This is inspired by the thousands of retirees moving here to enjoy the good life that traditional Sussex Countians have enjoyed for generations. Regardless of the wishful thinking of a few, they will continue to come. While this growth brings with it plenty of challenges, we must understand that it also brings many benefits. I believe that most Sussex Countians are optimists who know that change is inevitable but it holds incalculable opportunity.

There are those of us who are asked to guide this county through our efforts as public servants. If we elected officials put our heads in the sand or ignore the big picture, I have faith in the voters to turn us out. Though it’s not a perfect system, it’s the best that has been devised by the mind of man. I feel blessed to live in a country, and a county, where we have the freedom to choose our own destiny.

Vance Phillips
Sussex County Councilman

Chamber making an effort to open talks

I know many of you have been closely following the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to have DelDOT rework its proposed improvements to Route 26. For several reasons, most importantly safety and emergency evacuation, we recommended the design include a center lane from the Assawoman Canal to Clarksville. This would simply continue the road width and configuration set in the Bethany section of the project.

Rather than continuing to play volleyball in the local newspapers, we have invited Secretary of Transportation Nathan Hayward III and the design team to meet with us here. We hope to spread out the plans and talk about how to make this work while keeping the project on schedule and mitigating impact.

We will inform you, our chamber members and community partners, of when that meeting takes place and the outcome. Thank you for your support of our efforts thus far. We all want a Route 26 that is safe, functional and attractive.

Karen L. McGrath, executive director
Bethany-Fenwick Area
Chamber of Commerce

Council member thanks area for support

I wish to sincerely thank everyone for your prayers, love, support, cards, flowers, fruit baskets, calls and balloons that I have received. They all helped to brighten my days after my recent heart surgery. The surgery went well and I should be back on my feet in a few weeks and thank everyone in person. Thanks to one and all.

Wayne Fuller
Bethany Beach