The Sussex County District 2 Republican primary features three candidates running for a seat being vacated by incumbent Sam Wilson. District 2 covers northwestern and central Sussex County, including the communities and areas near Ellendale, Georgetown, Greenwood, Lincoln, Milford and Millsboro.
The candidates include Cindy Green, the Sussex County Register of Wills; Lisa Hudson Briggs, a retired state employee who also ran in 2016; and Robert Wilson, a former member of Indian River school board and the son of the current councilman.
Lisa Hudson Briggs, 56, of Georgetown is married to Lewis Briggs, retired from Delaware State Police, and they have four children and 10 grandchildren. She retired from the state of Delaware after almost 33 years, working half of her career at Stockley Center, Social Services, and the other half at the Department of Elections for Sussex County as office supervisor.
She plans to be a full-time councilwoman. “I have been engaged since the last election with continuing to attend council meetings, budget hearings, attending events all over the county over the last four years, and staying involved with communicating with constituents and officials,” she said.
She is actively involved with Georgetown Fire Co. Auxiliary and is a lifetime VFW auxiliary member as well as a member of Sussex County Republican Women's Club and Republicans for Sussex.
Robert Wilson, 49, was born and raised in Sussex County. He and his wife of 26 years have raised two children in the county. He served two terms on the Indian River school board and is a fourth-generation farmer on the family farm in Georgetown. The lifelong conservative Republican owns a small business called Gas Tech.
Cindy Green, a lifelong Greenwood resident, has been active in Republican politics and has served as Sussex County Register of Wills for the past 10 years. She did not respond to the questionnaire.
In making her announcement to run, she said, “Our citizens deserve protection from county, state and federal bureaucrats. Sussex County Council needs someone that stands for local control of land and business development, opposition to fees and tax increases, and improved electronic access and transparency.”
What is the No. 1 issue facing Sussex County? If elected, what action would you take to address the issue?
Robert Wilson: The protection of property rights and agriculture. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Sussex County and the state, and it must be preserved.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: The No. 1 issue is balancing the quality of life with the quantity of life. Property rights, development and free enterprise must all be protected with proper growth in Sussex County. Creating the balance between development and land preservation is a major issue facing Sussex County. When I am elected, my goal will be to ensure the proper balance occurs that would allow for planned growth and the necessity for preservation of land. This would allow for job growth and preserving the life we have enjoyed in Sussex County.
Sussex County Council has adopted a new comprehensive land-use plan. In your opinion, what are the top three goals in the plan that must be addressed?
Robert Wilson: Any goal involving the support or expansion of agriculture is critical. Also, strengthening economic development and improving the transportation system are priorities.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: First, we need to increase the size of buffers around projects and developments during construction. A native tree line should be maintained wherever possible. Open space along roadways near developments should be widened. Why? When road construction or improvements are needed later, there will be room to do so without taking more property. If developers own these easements, the taking of property and expense associated with it should be reduced. Next, any new developments must have plans for water, sewer, roadway changes, cable/internet services and room to grow. Third, we must protect our water supply for drinking and for all other purposes. We cannot permit our water supplies to be polluted, diverted or reduced by change.
Changes to the county's wetland buffers ordinance are currently being discussed, including a possible change in the width of some buffers. Do you support any changes to the ordinance? If so, what specifically do you support?
Robert Wilson: An ordinance involving buffers will need to be analyzed thoroughly. An ordinance that affects property rights or agriculture in any way will not be supported.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: A change in the buffer from the current 50 feet from tidal waterways is needed. It must be expressly explained and understood that this applies only to tidal waterways. I also have concerns that property owners be properly compensated for any loss of properties in this process. I believe in retaining the buffers of native trees and natural vegetation plants, which will help protect our waterways for the future enjoyment of our residents. A committee representing a multifaceted group of Sussex Countians has been established to review any proposed changes.
On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how would you rate coordination/cooperation between Sussex County and the Delaware Department of Transportation? What additional measures can be taken to improve road work coordination?
Robert Wilson: Rating - 6. There is room for improvement. Sussex County and DelDOT need to be on the same page. Things have improved in recent years. DelDOT has to continue its investment in the roads in Sussex County; they have a lot of catching up to do.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: Rating - 6. I have seen an increase of positive interaction between DelDOT and Sussex County government. A new MOU is being discussed between DelDOT and Sussex County. It is obvious by our current traffic challenges that the weakest link is cooperation between these two entities. I would stress the need of DelDOT and county government to work together to ensure the safe flow of traffic throughout our growing county. Be it from Greenwood, Seaford or Bridgeville to Georgetown, Millsboro or Lewes, the current traffic-flow issues are only increasing. It would be my goal to have DelDOT at the table with any new construction proposed.
Most of the county is zoned AR-1, which allows for two building units per acre. Would you support a change to allowable density in the zoning district? Why or why not?
Robert Wilson: The AR-1 district was originally drafted to include 2 units per acre. The county has developed throughout time with this formula and to protect property rights, it should not be changed.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: There's no one size fits all. If the proposal comes before council after being reviewed by planning and zoning, it would be my responsibility to review each and every application for a zoning change independently that came before council to explain the need for the increase for more units per acre. I would like to see the proper infrastructure installed in order to allow the increase in density. In making this decision, much thought would go in the concern of property rights vs. the need of density.
Should Sussex County create a special fund or tax to provide more financial support to local fire/ambulance companies?
Robert Wilson: The county provides fire and BLS companies nearly $5 million in its annual budget. Creating a new tax for these services requires more discussion.
Lisa Hudson Briggs: Currently a special fund does exist to provide financial support to local fire/ambulance companies. A quarter of 1 percent of every building permit is retained to support the local fire and ambulance companies. That is a fee – not a tax – on new construction. The issue will be how to properly fund each and every fire company and ambulance squad in this county. I believe a plan can be created in a fair and equitable mechanism without a tax increase to provide the necessary funding for emergency services.