Frankford resident Rob Arlett jumped on the road to the Republican primary election as he launched his campaign for the District 5 Sussex County Council seat on July 22 at the Clayton Theatre in Dagsboro.
Just coming from another kickoff event in Laurel, Arlett introduced his wife, one of his two sons and his father to a crowd of supporters. Emphasizing his love of family and faith, the owner of Beach Bound Realty became an ordained minister in order to marry his niece to her fiancé.
“We love Sussex County. It’s a great place to raise a family, worship and have a business.”
Going up against 16-year incumbent Vance Phillips, whom Arlett never mentioned by name, the challenger said, “It’s not about the opponent, but about the people.”
“Public politics is a dirty word. My job, my responsibility, is to make it a positive thing. We need better people involved,” he said. “We need more good people involved in the process. The campaign is not about ‘Rob,’ it’s about you.”
“We know the rest of the state is all fouled up. I gotta make sure that doesn’t happen to Sussex County,” he said, emphasizing small government and keeping “government as far away from the people as possible.”
He said he hopes to “preserve the past and plan for the future,” describing the disheartening lack of opportunity for young people.
Not only, Arlett said, do many young people move away for college and careers, including his older son, but the entirety of west Sussex County is still suffering from “deteriorating property values,” especially since the DuPont company closed years ago. He aims, he said, for an “economic re-birth.”
Part of that future means using the expertise currently retiring on Delmarva. Although he doesn’t see that as a job for the government, he proposes a county-wide mentoring program. He turned to a man in the audience who worked on Wall Street for years before moving to Delaware.
“I guarantee there are a lot of youth that want to know what he knows,” Arlett said, and plenty of retirees who want to use their expertise to improve their new homes.
He also said western Sussex schools are suffering, in part because of Sussex Technical High School. Although he believes in competition, he said, he also believes the playing field needs to be leveled by making that school go to public referendum for additional funding, rather than just getting the state legislature’s approval.
As for the code of ethics discussion that has followed this local election cycle, he called for a Sussex County code — not just following in the default footsteps of the State.
He thanked his family and volunteers, encouraging people to get involved, whether they live in the 5th District or not.
Current District 4 Councilman George Cole was present to support Arlett’s candidacy.
“We do zoning. We make decisions that can ruin your neighborhood,” Cole said, adding that that’s why he felt it important to get someone like Arlett on the council.