Sussex County Council must remember, we're all in this together

September 19, 2016

This year's election for Sussex County Council District 3 is about many things.

It's about land use planning and traffic.

It's about helping seniors age in place.

It's about bringing good jobs to Sussex County.

But more than any single issue this election is about one, simple truth: We are all in this together.

Some folks have lived here three months. Some families have lived here for 300 years. But we're all here now.

We have young people looking for jobs. We have families raising children. We have retirees starting a new life. We have all income levels. All backgrounds. All religions. We have conservatives, liberals and independents.

But in Sussex County's Third District, those differences shouldn't matter, because we all face the same problems. And we all know what those problems are.

Go out on Route 1. Traffic is so bad people can't wait for Labor Day. Now traffic is becoming a year-round problem.

And, not just on Route 1. Route 24, Plantation Road, secondary roads are all crowded. They're dangerous. They weren't meant for this much traffic.

That's why smart growth should be our top priority. Smart growth means making sure we have the infrastructure to handle the growth as it develops.

A few months back, a Sussex County councilman traveled the back roads around Lewes and Rehoboth. It was a revelation for him. "I've never seen so many homes," he said. "I didn't know it was that bad," he said.

Where has this man been? Well, he's been on county council. He's been voting for new developments that don't have the roadways to support them.

We must make sure that all the council members understand just how bad it is, and then work together to start solving these problems.

Our first step must be focusing seriously on the county's next comprehensive plan. That plan will guide growth in Sussex County. Work on the plan has already begun, and all citizens must get involved in this process so that we can bring planning and smart growth to Sussex County. That's the only way we can make sure we have the infrastructure we need. That's the only way we can preserve our precious environment – the natural heritage that is fundamental to both our recreation and our economy.

Our second priority should be outlining a vision for our senior citizens. Sussex County is the fastest growing county in the state, largely due to a package of legislation designed to attract retirees to Sussex County. We must now plan and prepare for this fast-growing part of the population. We need to help our senior citizens gracefully age in their homes.

We need a variety of transportation options. We need a variety of housing options. And, most importantly, we need to have the doctors, nurses, health care professionals and facilities to serve our senior citizens.

And finally, for all ages, we need strong economic development in Sussex County. We need to build on what we have. For example, Sussex County is becoming known as the Culinary Coast. That's because of our great restaurants. But it's also because of our great farmers, who supply the fresh ingredients. We need better technology to help those industries work together.

Better technology includes expanding our fiber optic and wireless networks. We need to help small businesses use that technology to manage their supply and distribution chains. If they don't they will be left behind in the new economy. And we need our schools, our businesses and our state and local governments to work together to bring about dynamic economic growth.

Now let me tell you why I am running for Sussex County Council. I am running because I have been preparing for this job my whole life. That may sound funny, but it's true.

I worked for 15 years as an environmental attorney. I understand environmental issues. I also understand that it's not always necessary to pass new regulations. Too many regulations can stifle growth. Many problems can be solved by enforcing existing regulations.

My understanding of the environment also comes from my love of the outdoors. That's why I have a master's degree in forestry and worked for eight years in the field as a consulting forester. That's why I love living in Sussex County and hiking and biking in the Cape Henlopen State Park.

Finally, I am a certified mediator. I know how to bring people together.

In Delaware, Sussex County is responsible for land use decisions. The state is responsible for roads. To protect our quality of life, these two governments must talk to each other. They must work together.

If you elect me, I promise to use all my energy and experience to make sure that happens. I promise to work for smart growth, for our senior citizens and for a strong economy that benefits all of us.

And I promise to always remember: We are all in this together.

Because if we all work together, we can begin building a better future for the Cape Region and for all of Sussex County.

I'm asking for your vote Nov. 8.

Leslie Ledogar is the Democratic candidate for the District 3 seat on Sussex County Council. Joan Deaver, the current councilwoman, is stepping down.

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