Election 2020: Sussex County Council District 3

Patricia Drago

Name: Patricia “Patti” Drago

Party: Unaffiliated

Age: 67

Family: Married to Rich Weissmann, CPA and U.S. Air Force veteran, four stepchildren, five grandchildren

Residence: Lewes

Relevant experience: Twenty-five years of proven business leadership and operational experience managing projects, building consensus, solving complex problems, mediating disputes and managing complex financial transactions. Managed my homeowners’ association’s transition from developer, dealing with all aspects of community infrastructure and financials. Six years of local community experience, including work on transportation infrastructure, business operations, community resiliency, fundraising and communications.

Mark G. Schaeffer

Name: Mark G. Schaeffer

Party: Republican

Age: 61

Family: Married to Ruby Keeler Schaeffer. Five children and 12 grandchildren

Residence: Lewes

Relevant experience: Served as a mayor for a decade, am a successful small businessman and have 40 years of proven experience in land use

Why are you running for this seat?
To give all district voters a better choice, a candidate with no conflicts of interest, who will preserve our quality of life, while managing growth responsibly.

MS: I am running because I am increasingly concerned with the lack of proactive leadership in the 3rd District of Sussex County. Our roads are terrible, traffic is congested, and there is no proactive management on land use issues. I will aggressively manage developers and require them to follow the rules. I will require developers to build road improvements and install infrastructure before development happens, not after. I plan to offer solutions, be proactive and provide results from Day One.

What do you see as the major issues for this district?
PD: Diversifying our local economy to increase good jobs and reduce economic vulnerability; using the county comprehensive plan to manage growth responsibly; more effective collaboration with the Delaware Department of Transportation to mitigate traffic problems; water quality and flooding mitigation; emergency preparedness and community resiliency; and no increase in property taxes.

MS: There are three No. 1 issues in the Sussex County Council 3rd District: preserving our lifestyle, limiting government and keeping taxes low. They are one issue because they are interconnected. We must aggressively manage developers and require that roads and infrastructure be built before development happens, not after. I won’t increase your taxes, take away your property rights or leave traffic issues unaddressed. I will provide proactive leadership and deliver results.

What should government do to help both businesses and workers right now?
PD: Advocate for Sussex’s fair share of state and federal resources; champion and partner with programs such as Forward Delaware to implement the recommendations from the governor’s Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Training Initiative; ensure that those who want to work have access to the tools needed to participate in these programs. Develop programs that continuously boost Sussex businesses and the “shop local” focus.

MS: Businesses should be allowed to open and allow their employees back to work.

What do you think of the current level of county spending?
PD: The county budget is approximately $150 million. The budget has been managed in a fiscally responsible manner, avoiding the need for any property tax increase. Given the volatility in current markets and the unknown full impact of the pandemic on revenues and expenses, the county has developed an appropriately conservative budget for 2021 and a reasonable level of reserves to weather this storm.

MS: The 3rd District of Sussex County generates the bulk of the revenue and that revenue needs to be spent supporting our volunteer fire companies and first responders and our wonderful police officers. We do not need to spend taxpayers’ money to benefit local large developers.

Should the county make any change to its development policies?
PD: Planning & Zoning and County Council need to more consistently apply the principles outlined in the Sussex County comprehensive plan. And it should continue to seek ways to adapt the county code to better align with that plan.

MS: We need to implement transportation improvement districts immediately. It is unbelievable that my opponent does not support this proven program to manage and improve traffic and roadways. We need to work aggressively to manage sprawl and provide opportunities for affordable housing.

Looking to the immediate future, what are your thoughts on development — residential and commercial?
PD: Developers play a vital role in our local economy; the objective is to support their efforts to develop in a way that protects the economy and environment in balance with the public good. Businesses are attracted to areas that manage their growth well. Today, people can work from anywhere, and many are moving to attractive well-planned communities with good design. Good design is good for the environment, good for business and good for protecting and enhancing property values.

MS: An effort must be made to recruit and help foster employers to our area. There is little to no effort being made to provide quality employment opportunities for our citizens. I have a proven record of creating quality jobs and plan on aggressively doing so, again Day One.

What do you believe makes you the better person for this job, rather than your opponent?
PD: Managing Sussex County is like managing a business. Both my work and volunteer experience equip me with the very skills that Sussex needs to be managed successfully. Unlike my opponent, I would come into this responsibility with no conflicts of interest, with the skills to build consensus instead of sowing seeds of conflict and with the financial management experience to prudently manage an enterprise the size and scope of Sussex County.

MS: Sussex County Council regulates land use issues. I have 38 years of proven leadership in aggressively managing developers and making them follow the rules and build the roads before they develop land, not after.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?
PD: All these issues combine to affect our quality of life. We are talking about protecting and preserving what we love about our community and fixing what is broken. I am ready to put my skills, time and energy to work on behalf of businesses and residents, preserving our agricultural roots, visitors and the environment. I ask for your vote Nov. 3. Voters can learn more about me at my website, pattidrago.com.

MS: I have a proven lifelong record of service above self, managing land use issues and creating jobs. I look forward to providing proactive leadership to finally tackle our traffic and road issues head-on and manage growth aggressively. And I, unlike my opponent, will not support or vote for tax increases.