Signing forms should be required

March 10, 2023

I read the article titled “Sussex federal funding could be at risk” in the March 3 edition. There had also been a previous article discussing the refusal of Councilwoman Cindy Green to sign the conflict-of-interest form. In the Friday edition, it mentioned that Sussex County Board of Adjustment member Jordan Warfel inappropriately filled out the form. I took special interest in this because I worked in the environmental division of a local county health department for 26 years, and we also had to sign this type of form every year.

In my case, these forms were referred to as a financial interest disclosure form and, as in the case of the Sussex County form, were intended to identify potential conflicts of interest by having any financial interest or benefits associated with a company that my department might have the opportunity to do business with. I find it absurd, and possibly telling, that employees or other officials of Sussex County would be given a choice concerning filling out this disclosure. For 26 years, I willingly signed the form because I really had no choice. You filled out the form or you were going to get fired. These forms serve a very important function and are critical to protecting the county as a whole from certain legal liability. Signing this form should be seen as a matter of personal integrity. Refusal suggests that a person has something to hide, even if in fact they do not. 

The Friday article mentioned that an ordinance was needed to deal with this situation. I think it should already be the official policy of Sussex County that all elected officials and county employees must appropriately fill out and sign the form as a necessary condition of office or employment. This issue needs to be reviewed by Sussex County’s solicitor’s office. 

Ralph E. DeFazio


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