As he continues his campaign for a seat on the Sussex County Council, Mark Schaeffer is focusing on specific goals, with more funding for first-responders, better control of traffic congestion and avoiding tax increases among those goals.
The 61-year-old Lewes resident, a Republican challenging incumbent Councilman Irwin G. “I.G.” Burton, representing District 3, is a volunteer at the Lewes Volunteer Fire Department. He and his wife, Ruby, are both certified EMTs.
They have five children and 12 grandchildren.
“Our first-responders don’t get enough money, and I would like to see more funding from the County. The whole county funding program for first-responders needs to be more equitable,” he said, adding that there is more stress for first-responders now because of rapid population growth in the county.
“I’m concerned about my opponent’s comments, that he plans to raise real estate taxes. He has not supported our fire companies. He is passing ordinances that impact farmers’ property rights. I am concerned about that, and I want to make a change,” he said.
On his Facebook page, “Mark G. Schaeffer for Sussex County Council,” he states, “The 3rd District needs real leadership immediately to correct the disastrous situation with our roads and to help support our EMS/1st Responders.” His campaign slogan is “Keep Sussex Strong.”
He said he has known his opponent 45 years, has spoken to him many times and would be willing to debate him in a public forum. Burton could not be reached for comment.
To better control traffic, Schaeffer suggested traffic improvement districts.
“I want to see us correct traffic and congestion problems. These traffic improvement districts delineate geographical areas where development occurs, or will occur, and makes sure the investment is done up front, as opposed to after development occurs,” he said.
A 1988 graduate of the University of Delaware, the former mayor of Little Creek and Smyrna is an associate commercial broker for the Long & Foster real estate company. He has a background in construction, appraising and auctioneering.
In 2016, he ran for County Council and lost by 64 vote swing in a four-person race. Candidates at that time were Frank Shade, Kevin Burdette, Schaeffer and Burton.
Schaeffer, who noted that he spent his boyhood summers enjoying the Delaware resort areas and moved to Lewes as a full-time resident 15 years ago, said he wants to see County finances handled better. Although his opponent has said he only supports user fees, those fees are the same as taxes, Schaeffer asserted.
Schaeffer said he also wants more jobs made available so residents don’t have to leave the area to find work.
Concerning the coronavirus pandemic, Schaeffer said he wants businesses to “open back up immediately and our schools have to reopen, too.”
“It’s a concern. Our children need to be in school. That can be done with appropriate safety measures in place,” he said.
Sussex County Council District 3 encompasses the Broadkill Beach, Ellendale, Lewes, Lincoln, Milford, Milton, Primehook Beach and Slaughter Beach areas. The primary election will be on Sept. 15. The general election will be on Nov. 3.
Council members are paid $30,855 annually, with a $2,750 stipend paid twice yearly. The president of the council receives $31,977 annually, with the same stipend.