Three candidates vying for Parish's Clerk of Peace seat


There are three candidates running in 2012 for Sussex County Clerk of the Peace, head of the Marriage Bureau in Sussex County. According to the County, the Marriage Bureau issues marriage and civil union licenses, officiates memorable marriage and civil union ceremonies and provides certified copies of marriage and civil union licenses issued in Sussex County. Current Clerk of the Peace George Parish is moving on at the end of his term, and there are three candidates vying for his spot.

John Brady, the Democratic candidate, is a practicing attorney at the Law Office of John Brady. He is a graduate of Delaware schools, the University of Richmond in Virginia and Widener School of Law. He is a member of the Delaware Bar, the New Jersey Bar and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. He has been a legislative attorney for the Delaware House of Representatives and has worked with several municipalities as town solicitor and town prosecutor.

Republican Brooks Witzke is a self-described fiscal conservative and a life-long resident of Sussex County who attended K-12 and college locally. He described himself as a conservative pro-traditional-marriage candidate. He said that, as a Delaware Animal Care and Control (DEACC) officer he had a conviction rate of 93 percent.

David Eisenhour is the Libertarian candidate. He graduated from Cape Henlopen High School and went to work for a small local rent-to-own store. He eventually became the store manager. He said that, after four years, he chose to take a pay cut in order to spend more time with his family. He changed careers and went to work for a local construction firm in their shop and has since worked for them as their network/IT administrator and contract administrator, and did CADD Earthwork model building.

In a twist to the normal election, in a statement released Oct. 25, Eisenhour officially suspended his campaign for Delaware insurance commissioner, an office for which he had also been running since May, and endorsed another candidate who had joined the race in July.

Eisenhour said that, with the goal of minimizing the burden on the people of Delaware, he was not going to formally withdraw from the insurance commissioner race, because “It would cost the Department of Elections and, in turn, the people of Delaware an indeterminate amount of money.” Instead, he promised that, should he be elected to both positions, he would not accept the insurance commissioner post.

Here are several questions posed to each candidate and their answers:

John Brady (D)

Q. Do you have any prior public office experience; if so, in what area?

A. I was Register in Chancery, Sussex County Delaware from 2001-2003 and Recorder of Deeds, Sussex County Delaware from 2003-2011.

Q. What do you see as the highest priority or top issue as Clerk of the Peace?

A. First, balance the office budget through good management. George Parish, the current clerk, has done a good job trying to balance the office expenses against fee income. I plan to continue those efforts in order to balance the budget. I do not plan to take mileage reimbursement or use a County car to perform the work of the office. Second: Great customer service: I plan to continue to conduct memorable ceremonies upon request for the customers of the Sussex County Marriage Bureau.

Q. How do you view the position?

A. I see the job of the Clerk of the Peace as the executive manager of the Marriage Bureau. As such, it is the responsibility of the legislature to pass the laws and the Clerk of the Peace to follow the law.

Q. Why are you the best choice and what special qualifications do you bring to the position?

A. I will follow the law. It is not the prerogative of the clerk to pick and choose the laws that he will follow. I have 10 years’ experience as the executive manager of County row offices. I know how to do the job in accordance with the law. If I wanted to establish laws for the state, I would have run for the legislature. I enjoy being a county official, doing my best for the good folks of Sussex County. The other two candidates are nice people, but they do not have my elected experience, education or training.

Q. Why should people vote for you?

A. The Clerk of the Peace has to be the happiest row office in the county, with so many joyous people coming in to obtain licenses and for ceremonies. I would be proud to serve in that office for Sussex County. I have served in county government as a row officer for 10 years, from 2001 through 2011. I know how to manage a budget, handle personnel issues and operate a customer friendly office within a budget.

As Recorder of Deeds I was still able to turn over millions of excess fees to County Council to help pay for paramedic services, public safety and to help keep the tax rate unchanged for over 15 years. I can do the job well, and I ask for your vote on Nov. 6, 2012. Let the big guy work for you!

Q. What ideas do you have for the office? How should revenues be used? Should they stay in the office or pay for other County services?

A. Right now, the office budget income is slightly less than the office expenses. I believe the top priority is to balance the budget. I will continue the 24/7 availability for ceremonies, and I will continue the top-quality customer service that the current clerk helped to establish. I do not intend to accept mileage reimbursement or use a County car in the performance of the job duties.

As Recorder of Deeds I turned over several million in excess fees collected to the County General Fund to pay for paramedics, public safety and other county expenses.

Q. Do you support same-sex unions? Do you have any concerns about officiating such ceremonies? Would you like to see the law changed?

A. I will follow the law. The Clerk of the Peace is the executive manager for the Marriage Bureau office. I have no concerns in officiating any memorable ceremony pursuant to Delaware law. If I wanted to be involved in enacting laws, I would have run for the legislature. My personal opinion is not a factor in how I will operate the office.

David Eisenhour

Q. Do you have any prior public office experience; if so, in what area?

A. My experience has come from the private marketplace. As a retail manager, I have balanced a budget, managed a staff and provided excellent customer service while increasing sales, market share and revenues. As information technology director, I have managed the implementation of the useful technology to increase information accessibility and integrated systems management.

The fact that this is the first opportunity I have had to run for public office and have never worked for the government or been appointed to any public office is a good thing for the citizens of Sussex County. I have no preconceived notions of how things “work around here” but the knowledge how to make things work for the betterment of the people.

Q. What do you see as the highest priority or top issue as Clerk of the Peace?

A. The highest priority of the Clerk of the Peace is to provide the services of the office to the general public in a courteous and cost effective manner.

Q How do you view the position?

A. I view the position of Clerk of the Peace as an executive position that manages and sets the direction and tone of the marriage bureau. I will ensure excellent customer service to all who seek a memorable marriage or civil union ceremony without questioning the motives of my paying customers.

Q Why are you the best choice and what special qualifications do you bring to the position?

A. I am the best choice because I bring the experience gained in private employment and sales to the office. I understand how to balance a budget, increase revenues, enroll a staff in positive change and provide excellent customer service. I am also as a network administrator uniquely aware the costs and benefits of different technological approaches to increasing efficiency, providing video services and providing internet based services.

Q. Why should people vote for you?

A. People should vote for me because I am the best choice this year. The other candidates have adopted parts of my platform. John is now saying he will balance the budget, and Brooks is now offering video streaming. Why not just take the real thing?

Q. What ideas do you have for the office? How should revenues be used? Should they stay in the office or pay for other county services?

A. Balance the budget of the marriage bureau, provide video streaming and digital copies of services held in the Clerk’s Office (increase revenues), provide the forms required online (decrease costs), move to in-house collection of external data (recapture lost revenues), provide excellent customer service (increase repeat and new business) and look for new services to offer (increase product line).

Revenue from the marriage bureau should be used first to pay for the general operations of the office. If a budget surplus were to occur consistently, then re-evaluation of the licensing fee to lower it. Government programs should pay for themselves; any additional revenues should go to lowering the costs to the taxpayers receiving the service. It is the one distinction between a business and a government service. The government should break even and business should profit. Profits in government are simply over-taxation.

Q. Do you support same-sex unions? Do you have any concerns about officiating such ceremonies? Would you like to see the law changed?

A. As Clerk of the Peace, it will be my job to perform the services the legislature deems proper for the State of Delaware; as such, I will happily perform the duties of the office whatever they may be. Each person who receives a ceremony while David Eisenhour is Clerk of the Peace will feel that Sussex County has done them a great service. They will feel encouraged to recommend their out of state friends and relatives coming here for marriage services.

Yes, [I would like to see the law changed]. I would like the state to get out of the business of marriage completely. The state and federal government have exploited religious and family institutions to group people together and give them special privilege under the law. As a Libertarian, I believe all people should be treated the same under the law, regardless of their marital status. If these special rights must be given, then they should be available to all.

Brooks Witzke (R)

Q. Do you have any prior public office experience; if so, in what area?

A. I have not held public office before. I was encouraged to run for office by some local prominent members of society that believe in the need for new, young candidates with fresh ideas regarding how the people of Sussex County can be better served.

Q What do you see as the highest priority or top issue as Clerk of the Peace?

A. Customer service and efficient management are the top issues facing the Clerk of the Peace office.

Q How do you view the position?

A. I view the position of Clerk of the Peace as a serious public service position that requires a significant amount of time and dedication.

Q Why are you the best choice and what special qualifications do you bring to the position?

A. I am the best choice for a few reasons. I am young, energetic and very well organized. I will bring fresh new ideas to the service forefront for our customers. For instance, I am working to pioneer a new feature to our offerings. I will institute a “streaming” live feed for the broadcast of marriages. This will enable “out-of-town” or “shut-in” loved-ones the ability to see this grand experience in real time. This feature will be offered but not automatic, as I appreciate the fact some may want to keep their ceremony more private.

I will work tirelessly to make sure the people who choose to use the clerk’s office are given the total marriage experience coupled with thoughtful encouraging support.

I am the candidate that will dedicate my full time attentions to the people of Sussex County. My other opponents have openly stated they will not make the same level of commitment. My opponents have spoken about managing their multiple ventures. The time is now for total commitment for our elected officials.

By nature I am an organized, thorough person. I am a fiscal conservative. I will keep costs low and services to the customer high. As a DEACC officer, I have maintained a 93 percent conviction rate. I am committed to covering off on all necessary details and contingencies.

Q. Why should people vote for you?

A. People should vote for me because of the fact that I have a strong desire to serve the people. This is a trait that is becoming more and more rare in politics today. I am not seeking this position because I am in pursuit of another income or health benefits. I am in very good health and plan to be a contributor to the betterment of Sussex County for the long term.

I am endorsed by our current beloved Clerk of the Peace, Mr. George Parish. George endorses me because he believes I am the person most likely to maintain the high standard he has established for customer service and office efficiency.

Q. What ideas do you have for the office? How should revenues be used? Should they stay in the office or pay for other county services?

A. As a campaign promise, I plan to institute a streaming video service so that “shut-in” or “out of town” loved ones can view this special day in real time. This feature will be available but not automatic. We realize some people may prefer a more private ceremony.

I will institute credit card payment for services rendered by my office. Cashless transactions are on a significant incline. I feel strongly that we need this for the convenience for our patrons.

I plan to have an open door policy. Employees of my office will find me approachable and willing to listen.

We will have bi-weekly staff “update” meetings. We will share best practices and “think tank” new and improved ways of better serving our patrons. As a standard in business or government many good ideas are birthed by employees at every level. I will promote employee inclusiveness. It is very important to me that we foster an environment of positive encouragement and strong team work.

I also plan to institute morale building programs. For example; one idea may be a nice year-end celebration dinner and a gift card for the office employees should we come in 5 percent under “budget.” Of course, all ideas will be passed and approved by the Council before implementation.

Performance-based initiatives are a “win/win” for both the employees and the tax payers. We will see productivity rise and costs go down. Employee morale seems to be an issue in some departments/offices in our County. In the spirit of unity, I will share these ideas with other county leaders, as well, for their review.

I will discipline my office’s procurements. On regular intervals, I will audit our purchases to ensure we are purchasing our needed items at the lowest possible price. In general, it is believed that government has a tendency to be loose with their purchases. I pledge to the taxpayers of Sussex County that I will run my office like a business. As a fiscal conservative; my mission is reduce costs, increase productivity and deliver superior customer service.

Additional funds generated by the Clerk of the Peace Office should be contributed to the County’s general fund and used to further improve the general welfare of our County Government and the services we provide to the citizens of Sussex County.

Q. Do you support same-sex unions? Do you have any concerns about officiating such ceremonies? Would you like to see the law changed?

A. As a committed Christian, I am a supporter of traditional marriage. I believe marriage was intended to be between a man and woman. The Clerk of the Peace does not set law, we follow it. My office will offer the same services to all persons as provision is set by State law. I will not have an issue officiating such ceremonies. Furthermore, I will ensure all persons are offered the same level of service, no matter what their preference is. When people come to the Clerk’s office to get married, it is one of the best times of their lives. It is up to us to make sure they enjoy this time and are given an experience of a lifetime.