Republicans in Sussex County won major victories 2012, securing four of the county’s five Senate seats and seven of the county’s nine representative seats.
The local GOP is now set to elect new leaders – but the top four officers will run unopposed.
Sussex County Republican Committee elections will begin at 7 p.m., Monday, March 11, at the CHEER Center in Georgetown; voter registration will begin at 6 p.m. All registered Republicans in Sussex County are eligible to vote.
Former Chairman Jerry Wood led the party to success in 2012, but he passed away Dec. 28. Since then, Vice Chairman John Rieley of Millsboro has served as acting chairman. Rieley is running unopposed to lead the Sussex GOP.
Rieley said he has served as vice chair of the committee for about eight years, under several chairmen. This year, he said, he felt ready to take the lead. “We are very blessed to have a lot of active, talented volunteers,” he said.
“Obviously, Sussex is the stronghold for Republicans in Delaware,” Rieley said. He said he plans to ramp up fundraising and beef up the Sussex GOP in the coming year. “Building the committee is key,” he said. “And being ready to run strong in 2014.”
Fred Silva, 39th Representative District Committee chairman representing Seaford, is running to take Rieley’s former place as vice chairman and is also running unopposed. No candidates filed to replace him as chairman of RD 39.
Secretary Carol Bodine said the district committee would have to vote for someone to take Silva’s place after the election.
Bodine, who has served as Sussex GOP secretary since 2006, said she decided to leave the post and run for secretary of the state GOP. “Kim Hoey Stevenson decided not to run, so I’m running,” Bodine said.
Hoey Stevenson, also a resident of Sussex County, has been the state committee secretary since 2011.
Replacing Bodine for county secretary is Linda Creasy, “I asked her to run in my place because she’s very knowledgeable, and I knew she’d do a good job,” Bodine said.
Creasy, of Lewes, has been a committeeperson for one year, Bodine said.
Frankford resident Sylvia Nieser, who has served as treasurer since Wood was elected in February 2012, is also unopposed for re-election.
Bodine said 70 executive committee members, 40 guests and a few elected officials attended the Sussex GOP’s February meeting, and she predicts the same turnout for GOP elections. “The last meeting, we had a large turnout,” she said.
The county has nine representative districts; three district chairman spots will be contested this year.
Tony Matero, president of the Eastern Sussex Republican Club, is running for chairman of the 14th Representative District against incumbent Chairman Harold Conklin. Bodine said Conklin has served as chairman of RD 14, which encompasses Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, for at least one year.
In RD 35, which includes Lincoln and Greenwood, Jason Dean is challenging incumbent Chairman Matt Opaliski. Bodine said Dean only recently moved to Sussex County, but he brings experience from the Kent County GOP.
Bodine said Dagsboro resident Ken Currie, who has served as chairman of RD 41 for the past two election cycles, is being challenged by Ken Towers. Towers, a Georgetown resident, has been involved in the committee for about 10 years, Bodine said, but he was moved into the 41st district after redistricting in 2011.
Nelly Aliste Jordan, who has filed to run as vice chairwoman of the state Republican committee, is also running unopposed to lead RD 20. Bodine said if Jordan wins the vice chairwoman spot at the Republican Convention in April, she must step down as chairwoman of RD 20. The district committee would then have to elect a replacement within the 20th district, comprising Lewes and Milton.
Registered Republicans will also vote for committeepersons in their individual election districts. There are 146 spots for Election District committeepersons. For more information, go to sussexgop.org.