A Return Day like no other

Scaled-down event keeps a unique election tradition alive
November 5, 2020

It was a Return Day like no other. A small crowd gathered on The Circle in Georgetown Nov. 5 to witness the reading of election results by Sussex County Sheriff Robert Lee and the burying of the hatchet by county party chairs.

On a typical Return Day, held every two years, thousands of people would have been around The Circle, spilling out onto the streets of downtown Georgetown. But 2020 is anything but a typical year. The all-day event was scaled down to about one-half hour. 

The official event was canceled due to health concerns and restrictions placed on the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when Georgetown elected officials banded together to keep the 200-year-old tradition alive.

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, and Georgetown Mayor Bill West organized the event. “People want a sense of normalcy and to put this contentious election year behind them,” Pettyjohn said.

After Lee read the returns, which were dominated by Republican winners in the county, including President Donald Trump, he said, “We are not a mirror of what Delaware is. We are our own county, thank God.”

More than a dozen Sussex County elected officials attended the event, most of whom had just won re-election.

Party chairs Jane Hovington, Democrat, Don Petitmermet, Republican, Wolfgang von Baumgart, Independent, and Jim Brittingham, Libertarian, buried the hatchet in soil and sand from all over the county, symbolizing the end of the election.


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