Republican Mark Schaeffer, a current Lewes resident and lifelong Delaware resident, has announced he will challenge for the District 3 Sussex County Council seat held by fellow Republican Irwin “I.G.” Burton, also of Lewes. Schaeffer ran for the office unsuccessfully in 2016.
Schaeffer is a member of St. Peter’s Church in Lewes and a volunteer emergency medical technician and firefighter along with his wife, Ruby, at Lewes Fire Department. He is also active in the West Rehoboth Land Trust building homes for low-income residents. He is a former Kent County Republican chairman, and was mayor of Little Creek and Smyrna for a decade. He is also a former Delaware River and Bay Authority commissioner, a former member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Mid-Atlantic Fishery Council, and a former board member of Kent General Hospital (Bayhealth).
According to Schaeffer, his opponent has said publicly that the Sussex County tax rate is not sustainable and taxes will have to be increased. Schaeffer said he disagrees. He said with the implementation of proper fiscal restraint, taxes will not and should not be increased.
“I'm running to preserve Sussex County landowners' rights, and I am committed to responsible government that will keep our local property taxes low,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer said he has firsthand knowledge of the stress first responders are under, particularly in District 3 where population growth is tremendous. “My opponent not only refuses to offer a more equitable funding of the Third District fire companies, but he refuses to even give the fire departments a fair hearing on the issue,” he said.
Schaeffer said the incumbent has done nothing for over a decade to create sustainable employment opportunities in Sussex County to provide jobs for its citizens. “Our children have to leave the area to find a job,” Schaeffer said. “I have the experience to foster economic growth in Sussex County, and I am committed to helping create a business environment that creates better job opportunities for locals and their families. As a mayor of a major Delaware community, I successfully created thousands of jobs for its citizens and also grew the tax base without putting any additional children into the school districts.”
Schaeffer said, “The Third District needs real leadership immediately to correct the disastrous situation we have with our roadways. The roads are dangerous and congested beyond belief. There needs to be an immediate change and leadership to correct the roads.”
As mayor, Schaeffer said, he helped with the adoption of the first comprehensive land-use plan completed in the state. He also played a key role in the development of several projects in the city, including the Walmart distribution center, which brought revenue and jobs to the city.
Schaeffer, an associate broker at Long and Foster commercial real estate, also has a background in construction, appraising and auctioneering, and managed a manufactured home community. He and his wife have five children and 12 grandchildren.
Growing up, Schaeffer spent his summers in the resort area and moved to Lewes as a full-time resident 15 years ago.
Terms also expire for Sussex County Council President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, and Councilman Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown. Neither has officially announced his candidacy. The filing deadline is Wednesday, July 15.