[Sussex County] Councilman Rob Arlett is a candidate in the Sept. 6 primary seeking the Republican nomination for United States Senate. Mr. Arlett is indeed a good man, as is his honorable opponent Gene Truono.
But goodness must yield in the voting booth to the graver issue of suitability for office — a sober reminder of the periodic opportunity for each voter to express a secret preference, many times rooted in complex and thoughtful deliberation and other times equally as well with gut instinct.
Mr. Phillip Drew penned in the Aug. 10 edition of the Coastal Point glowing comments regarding Mr. Arlett’s candidacy, highlighting how he “listens to the voters” and “takes actions in the best interests of his constituents.”
Centuries ago Omar Kayyam poeticized the deep-seated truth that each person must accept responsibility for their actions. Thus, “the moving finger writes and having writ, moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”
Speaking only for myself, I offer herein my observations of Mr. Arlett’s voting record over the last four years, beginning with Mr. Arlett’s oath of office:
“I, Robert Arlett, do proudly swear to carry out the responsibilities of the office of Sussex County Board of Supervisor Councilman to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.” … (See Delaware Code.)
For me, Mr. Arlett’s acknowledgment that his powers flow from the people he represents and swearing to place public interests above any special interests are the cornerstones of his commitment to the office of Councilman.
Only Mr. Arlett can explain how at almost every opportunity his votes on planning and zoning matters have furthered the interests of builders and developers here in Sussex County with little to no regard for the impact of his votes on the broader public interest in quality of life issues, such as adequate schools, safe roads, preservation of our natural environment and effective fire and police protection.
Recent examples are builder/developer requests for higher housing density for Swan Cove West LLC, Bayside LLC Williamsville Road and Fenwick Commons LLC. Indeed, after a Roxana firehouse meeting last November attended by hundreds of residents angry over traffic congestion on Route 54, Mr. Arlett voted to approve housing density on a petition by Fenwick Commons LLC, which would have added to traffic congestion.
Mr. Arlett’s votes have welcomed builders and developers to invade our communities with their tools of intimidation we confront daily on our roads, many of which have ditches for shoulders and telephone poles for guardrails.
All of us have played “chicken” with the licensed or unlicensed cement truck, the flatbed trailer, the bulldozer, the backhoe, the dump-truck, the boom/bucket/crane truck, the excavator truck, the water truck, the digger-derrick truck, the ditcher-trencher truck, the skid steer loader and the multi-wheel loader, to name a few.
You will not find pictures of these big-boy toys on Mr. Arlett’s campaign website, but I hope your imagination conjures images of these behemoths and how they have affected your quality of life.
In that vein of thought, Mr. Arlett would do well to explain over the next several weeks, and perhaps months, how his actions on building and zoning matters have been consistent with his oath of office.
To be sure, Mr. Arlett has not alone been responsible for the daily mess to our quality of life here in Sussex County. He has been ably abetted and assisted by a coterie of present and past councilpersons, and planning and zoning commissioners.
Leadership was needed to bridge divides among local, county and state governments to achieve harmony among the competing demands of constituents: ordered sensible growth while maintaining our quality of life.
Do you believe Mr. Arlett met this leadership task here in Sussex County? If you harbor concerns, Mr. Arlett would do well to articulate how he will assert leadership skills as a United States senator in seeking common ground with Gov. Carney, Sen. Coons and Rep. Rochester, to name a few.
For me, there is much to learn in the weeks to come from Mr. Arlett concerning his philosophy as a councilman and how he will sift and weigh competing interests as a United States Senator. So, too, these weeks will allow Mr. Truono to shine a light on his candidacy for the public’s close review and consideration.
However this race ends, both Mr. Arlett and Mr. Truono merit appreciation for accepting the inherent sacrifices (piety, wit and tears come to mind) attendant to a campaign for public office.