Meet in GOP Primary
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.
Vance Phillips of Laurel, incumbent Sussex County Council member representing the 5th District, faces a challenge from Willie Taylor of Millsboro in the Republican Primary election on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Phillips, 40, was elected four years ago in a 5th District that was much smaller. Following redistricting earlier this year, the district runs across the entire state from the Maryland border east to the Atlantic Ocean, encompassing everything from rural areas to oceanfront vacation homes.
Both men said they feel they are uniquely qualified to represent this diverse district. Phillips is a sixth generation Sussex Countian, making his living as a farmer.
Nearing the end of his first term on county council, Phillips said this time he is "running on a track record rather than a pledge. This campaign is a referendum on my record of service," he said.
Phillips acknowleged that while he not necessarily achieved all the goals he made when he was running for office before, he feels he has made substantial progress.
He said he has been pleased with the "fiscal discipline" displayed by the council as a whole during the past two years. "It's been a team effort," he said.
When he was first elected, he said, the county had $8 million in tax-supported debt, and that has been paid off in three budget cycles. He is also pleased with the fact that the county this year set aside $1 million for its open space, as well as funding libraries, additional paramedics and providing additional tax relief for senior citizens.
Phillips said he hopes to be re-elected in order to "continue to support policies that keep the county's economy strong, its communities safe and its taxes low.
As a councilman," Phillips said, he strives to hold the line on taxes. "It's my job to ensure that services are balanced so that taxes stay the same," he said.
Taylor, 58, said he feels his experience in business would stand him in good stead as a county councilman. "I know how to be a businessman and I know how to be a farmer," he said. "I can communicate well with other people and I know how to get things done. I've grown a business from scratch," he said, referring to Tri-State Mobile Home Supply. That business has branched off and resulted in a total of five businesses for Taylor.
During this past 17 years, he has been a member of the board of directors of the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Manufactured Housing Association.
When asked what he believes will be the major issues facing the county council in the coming years, Phillips said simply "land use, land use, land use."
"The update of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan is certainly foremost in my mind," Phillips said. At this point, with only weeks to go before the updated plan must be adopted, Phillips said the blueprint for growth in the county "is moving in the right direction."
Some of Phillips' own votes on coastal development have been unpopular with residents on the eastern side of the county, who feel he doesn't listen to their concerns. When voting for coastal projects, Phillips routinely references the current land use plan and its "development districts" which include the areas in which infrastructure is already established -- including the much of the coastal area.
He said, however, that even before redistricting his district included the Oak Orchard and Long Neck areas, so he had developed an understanding of the concerns of residents there. "I was disappointed to lose those," he said. "I'm pleased that I've developed friendships so quickly in the new territory," Phillips said.
Taylor said he believes the farming community in Sussex County needs to be protected for the economic survival of the county. "You've got to have the ground to grow the grain to keep the poultry and you've got to keep the poultry to keep everybody working," he said.
He said he would also like to see the county work with federal and state officials to bring a nursing facility for veterans to Sussex County. "As a veteran myself, I could work with all of them," he said.
Taylor said he blames the state Department of Transportation for many of the county's traffic woes, "for not thinking long-range. "If we're not able to deal with the traffic," Taylor said, "we're going to be in one heck of a mess."
Phillips lives on his family farm with his wife Lisa and their three daughters.
Taylor lives in Millsboro with his wife, Pat. They have six children.
Noted hurricane forecaster Dr. William Gray has revised his forecast for the 2002 hurricane season, citing changes in climate signals.
Gray, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, releases his hurricane forecasts each spring. This year's Atlantic coast forecast predicted 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. But Gray downgraded that forecast on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
"The fact that we have witnessed two weak early-season high latitude named storms does not mean we will have an active hurricane season," Gray said in a Sept. 4 statement. "In fact, we now believe the 2002 Atlantic basic hurricane season will be considerably below the long-term average and much below what has been experienced in six of the last seven years," Gray said.
The new forecast predicts four hurricanes, one of which will be major, and nine named storms. The long-term average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes in a year.
In Sussex County, Lewes Projects Coordinator Nelson Wiles called Gray's corrections "good news." At the same time, Wiles reminded Sussex residents of the importance of flood insurance to protect their home and businesses against flooding that comes with coastal nor'easter storms and hurricanes. In recent years, nor'easters, not hurricanes, have caused the most damage in Delaware.
Most homeowners' insurance policies don't cover flood damage, and there is usually a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance coverage goes into effect. Information on the National Flood Insurance Program is available at www.fema.gov/nfip or by calling the NFIP toll-free at (888) FLOOD29 or TDD# (800) 427-5593.
Submit this form to send us an item for this column. Event news should be submitted to our Calendar of Events. All items are subject to verification.
Sussex County Online Copyright © 1999-2002 Sussex County Online