3 Running Unopposed
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
Three state legislative incumbents could run opposed in this fall's general elections if party chairmen are unable to find and appoint opponents to run against them.
As the filing deadline for the 2002 elections passed at noon on Friday, July 26, 2002, three Sussex legislators -- Rep. Clifford "Biff" Lee and Senators Robert L. Venables Sr. and F. Gary Simpson -- still didn't have opponents.
Meanwhile, there will be eight primaries for Sussex County political party members to vote in, according to the list of candidate filings released by the Sussex County Department of Elections after the noon filing deadline on Friday, July 26, 2002.
In a sign of the times in western Sussex County politics, two incumbents for state office did not have opponents as the filing deadline for the November 2002 elections passed.
Barring nominations from party chairmen, neither Lee (R-Laurel), Venables (D-Laurel) or Simpson (R-Milford) will face opponents for their seats this fall. Those nominations must be made by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 3.
Lee, the House Majority Whip, would waltz into office in November in the 40th District if the Democrats do not appoint an opponent to run against him.
Venables, the controversial senator who prevented House Bill 99 -- the bill designed to give gays and lesbians equal treatment under the law -- from reaching the Senate floor for a vote this spring, would walk back into office in the 21st Senatorial District in November.
Simpson would reclaim his 18th Senatorial seat if the Democrats do not name an opponent.
The political situation is disturbing in western Sussex County, which has had tremendous difficulty scaring up candidates. In the 2000 election, County Councilmen Dale Dukes (D-Laurel) and Finley B. Jones (D-Bridgeville) ran unopposed for their seats.
A representative for the Delaware Democratic Party said on Friday that she did not know if the party would nominate opponents to run against Simpson or Lee. Phyllis Byrne, Vice-Chairman of the Sussex County Republican Party, said she, likewise, did not know if the party would nominate an opponent for Sen. Venables.
In stark contrast, the newly created 14th Representative District has created quite a bit of attention as four candidates -- Democrat Peter C. Schwartzkopf, Republicans Harry W. Crystal and Mike Meoli, and Everett Widoska of the Libertarian Party -- have filed for that seat. That's the largest number of candidates for any contest in Sussex County.
Elsewhere, both county council members up for re-election this year have opponents. George Cole (R-Ocean View) will be challenged for his 4th Councilmanic seat by Wolfgang vonBaumgart (Independent Party-Millsboro), and Vance Phillips (R-Laurel) will have to face Willie M. Taylor (R-Millsboro) in a primary for the opportunity to retain his seat against Democratic challenger Peggy Baunchalk (Fenwick Island).
As for the contested races, Democratic or Republican primaries will be held in eight races on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The general elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
State Department of Elections officials said a final filing list would be available by Monday, July 29.
Following is a rundown of the races as they are shaping up based on information released by the Sussex County Department of Elections on Friday afternoon:
The state has added to its store of park land with the purchase of 260 acres of tidal marsh, fields and woodlands in Lewes from the University of Delaware. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control settled on the property July 19, according to a DNREC news release.
According to Ron Vickers, chief of DNREC's land preservation office, the land comprises 130 acres of tidal marsh along Canary Creek and another 130 acres of open field and forest. The University of Delaware acquired the site in 1981 for a potential marine resources-related research park.
The university has had offers from developers, but open space advocates, including State Rep. John Schroeder, Lewes Mayor George Smith, and the city council, have supported acquisition of the land by the state.
Cape Henlopen State Park, which now manages 5,674 acres of land over six different properties, is Delaware's largest state park.
The Division has also purchased from the University an 8.4-acre forested stream corridor and abandoned rail line along the west side of Creek Road in Newark.
Abigail M. Bradley, a recent graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, received the 2002 Young Environmentalist of the Year Award for the state of Delaware from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Bradley received a $200 award and a Delaware State Park pass from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and former DNREC Secretary Edwin H. "Toby" Clark at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday, July 25, 2002.
Bradley was honored for her work in high school in aiding horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay. She conducted three separate research projects on topics such as nest site selection parameters, including sand grain size, beach slope and salinity.
In addition to the Young Environmentalist award, Bradley had already received several awards at local and national science fairs. She is now a research assistant at the University of Delaware's College of Marine Studies in Lewes, where she is assisting with several research labs related to the horseshoe crab.
In his nomination of Bradley for the award, Rep. John R. Schroeder (R-Lewes) said, "Perhaps what I am most proud of is Abby's most recent undertaking concerning the horseshoe crab. Abby initiated legislation that would have the horseshoe crab designated as the 'Delaware State Marine Animal'."
Bradley testified before the House of Representatives in Dover on the matter and it passed unanimously.
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