Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Sussex County Council candidates leading up to the Sept. 15 primary elections.
Borrowing lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Sussex County Council candidate Lisa Hudson Briggs, in a video message on her Facebook campaign page “Lisa For Sussex,” told voters, “I surely do not believe we can pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”
“We cannot continue to grow without making provisions for the traffic we have now and the increase in traffic any development brings,” she said.
“On Sept. 15 you have a choice. You can vote for more of the same by voting for the next generation of the current councilman and a career politician or you can vote for someone new, different and energetic. I am Lisa Hudson Briggs. I am that candidate. I am new, different, energetic,” she said.
She was referring to one of her opponents in District 2, Robert Wilson of Georgetown, son of incumbent Councilman Samuel Wilson, who is retiring. The third candidate for District 2 is Cindy Green of Greenwood, Register of Wills in Sussex County.
They will compete in the Sept. 15 primary election for the Republican seat. The General Election will be on Nov. 3 (although there is no Democrat challenger in this district).
District 2 encompasses northwestern and central Sussex County, including Georgetown, Greenwood, Lincoln, Milford and Millsboro.
Council members are paid $30,855 annually, with a $2,750 stipend paid twice yearly. The president of Council receives $31,977 with the same stipend.
Hudson Briggs said she is running on a platform that includes planned growth and economic development.
“I can tell you this much right now. We cannot continue to grow without the full cooperation and coordination among our state, county, local and private interests,” she said in the campaign page message.
“The county must aggressively seek economic development,” she told Coastal Point.
“Coastal Airport is a wonderful gem we have here in Sussex County. Maybe market it more. For growth, we must look at our quality of life and then try to work better and incorporate better with property rights and then our free enterprise, as well. It has to be more than just approving everything. It has to flow smoothly,” the 56-year-old Georgetown resident said.
Hudson Briggs, who grew up in Millsboro, retired from working for the State of Delaware after 33 years. She was employed by the Stockley Center in Georgetown, transferred to Social Services, then to the Department of Elections, retiring as office supervisor in 2015. Four years ago, she ran for a County Council seat and lost by 286 votes.
“It was something I have always had an interest in. The Council is the closest to the people,” she said.
She is also concerned about the environment and maintaining quality of life locals appreciate and tourists enjoy.
“I live here. I love it here. People are moving in here, which is wonderful and great but when we have development it has to be planned through the developers to keep the flow of traffic, to be mindful of our environment, to be mindful of what we are building near and around our waterways. We have to keep what makes Sussex County great,” she said.
An advocate of school starting again in September, in a hybrid fashion, Hudson Briggs said students have been out of class since March, and the extended period will magnify what educators call summer slide, meaning they forgot some of what they learned while not being in school.
“We have to ensure that our children and grandchildren have as close to the quality of life that I experienced growing up,” she said.
“We need to continue to open up. Our businesses are hurting. We are built upon small business and we need to get everyone back working. Businesses are going to take precautions and everybody knows the protocols and what to do,” said Hudson Briggs who, with her husband Lewis, has four children, Michelle, Lewis III, Michael and Jill, and 10 grandchildren.
Area residents have told the candidate they are worried about traffic and roadways. She said she reminded them the state controls the roadways but County officials can be a voice.
“We can be there for the state’s public workshops. We have to tell them we are having accidents and let DelDOT know we want to keep our areas and intersections at the forefront. As a public servant I want to call on my service to bring much-needed improvement. I’m retired, so I will be a 24-7 member of the council. I would be available to meet with them and communicate with anybody at any time. The council would be my full-time commitment,” she said.
“In District 2, people who come here to visit have to travel through our district to get through to the other side. DelDOT needs to purchase easements so work is done ahead of time to keep roadways flowing. It’s not just one area. It’s all of Sussex County. As a member of the County Council, I would be a voice and advocate for all of the county because what we do, the decisions we make, are countywide,” she said.
Hudson Briggs credited the current council for taking action when the coronavirus became prevalent in Sussex County.
“Early on they suspended the hotel tax that they had just implement back in December. I know council contributed up to $250,000 toward the state program that was earmarked for renters in Sussex. I think probably that may need to look at the numbers and add a little more money to that. There are going to be ramifications from what happened with the pandemic. It will continue until the end of the year, as well. A lot of families were affected with the slow process of re-opening businesses,” she said.
Other candidates in the primary this year will be Irwin. G. “I.G.” Burton and Mark Schaeffer, both of Lewes and both Republicans, in District 3. But there are no Democrat challengers.
In District 1, the candidates are Hunter Hastings, a Democrat, and incumbent Michael Vincent, president of the county council, a Republican. They will not compete in the primary because they are of different parties.
This year, council members representing Districts 1, 2 and 3 will be elected. Because terms are staggered, council members in Districts 4 and 5 will not be on this year’s ballot.
Councilman Douglas Hudson represents District 4 and Councilman John Rieley represents District 5. Their terms expire in 2022.