In District 3, voters have a clear choice Nov. 8

October 25, 2016

On Nov. 8, voters will have a clear choice when they go to the polls to select a new person to represent District 3 on Sussex County Council.

My opponent has had an active career in public service. He has served 11 years on the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, and 16 years on a state transportation committee. In his announcement he said, "Two Democratic governors appointed me to this committee [on transportation], so I know a little bit about transportation, which is a pretty big issue."

I couldn't agree more. Transportation is a huge issue.

But voters have a right to ask if Mr. Burton has served on a transportation committee for 16 years, what does he have to show for it? More to the point, what do we have to show for it?

People who lived here all their lives remember when traffic wasn't a concern, except on summer weekends. Now it's every day during the summer and many weekends besides. People who moved here more recently thought they were escaping city life. Now they find themselves stuck in traffic, just like in the city. Sometimes they're stuck in their own neighborhood because they have trouble getting out on routes 1 or 24. It's only getting worse.

So what has my opponent been doing the last 16 years he's been on this transportation committee?

What has he been doing the last 11 years on planning & zoning? I'm glad that he knows, as he says, "a little bit about transportation," but we have a right to expect results from our public officials.

Yes, we've grown a lot. Delaware is a desirable place to live, with its low property taxes and no sales tax, its magnificent beaches and its recreational and cultural opportunities. But the way Mr. Burton and other officials have handled growth is by treating land use and transportation as separate issues. They're not. They're two sides of the same issue.

I understand what is happening. In Delaware, the county is responsible for land-use decisions. The state is responsible for roads. It literally is not the county's problem to make sure we have the roads and infrastructure necessary to support these new developments. So, the county reaps the tax rewards of new housing but doesn't have to worry about paying for roads to accommodate these developments. When DelDOT and the county point fingers at each other, it's us, the county residents, who are caught in the middle.

This happened – somehow – without the county being aware of it.

This past spring, a county councilman toured the Cape Region and made an amazing discovery: Many new homes were being built! "I've never seen so many homes," he said. "I didn't know it was this bad." That is why traffic is so bad. County council hasn't been fully aware of what they've been approving.

Mr. Burton has been a part of that approval process for the past 11 years. If he's elected, all five members of Sussex County Council will be from the same party. To me, that doesn't sound like the best way forward.

In his campaign against Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan famously asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" If the answer was yes, Reagan said, your choice was obvious.

He nodded toward his opponent. But if your answer was no, he continued, "I could suggest another choice."

I, too, am here to suggest another choice. I also have had an active career in public service, but my career focused on bringing people together to solve problems, not on creating them. I have experience as an environmental attorney, a forester and as a certified mediator. I am dedicated to Sussex County and I care deeply about our future.

This is not a campaign about partisanship. We see too much of that in the national elections.

This is a campaign about partnerships. Some of you have just moved here. Some families have been here for many generations. But we all share in interest in protecting the jewel that is Sussex County.

We are all in this together. If you vote for me, I promise to be your voice on Sussex County Council to ensure that the finger pointing ends and the problem solving begins.

Leslie Ledogar is the Democratic candidate for the Sussex County Council District 3 seat.

  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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