Sussex Co. Council 5th District hopefuls address issues

Name: Ellen Magee

Political party: Democrat

Age: 59

Occupation: Farmer

Family: Three sons and lots of beautiful grandchildren

Elective experience: Current member of Sussex County Board of Adjustment

Name: John Rieley

Political Party: Republican

Age: 63

Occupation: Recently retired Financial Adviser

Family: Married 39 years to Lou Ann Rieley, 12 children, 14 grand children (so far)

Elective Experience: I have not held public office before but I was chair of the Sussex County Republican party

What would be your top priority if elected?

EM: I feel the most important priority in our county is to maintain and constantly improve our infrastructure (including roads, public water, sewer and broadband).

JR: The over all priority will be, as the area population increases, to maintain or improve county services, especially public safety while keeping taxes low and maintaining the excellent fiscal condition the county currently enjoys.

What do you consider the No. 2 and No. 3 priorities?

Ellen Magee

EM: Ensuring clean water for every person, every business and every farm; and making Sussex County attractive to businesses and clean industries, which will create good jobs. We certainly could be doing a better job of educating our young people in the vocational sector as we are always going to need electricians, plumbers and contractors.

JR: We need to protect our two largest economic drivers, agriculture and tourism while attracting new companies to choose Sussex especially on the western side of the county. We need high speed internet county wide.

What are your plans to boost economic development?

EM: This is crucial especially on the western side of Sussex. I think the county should look into hiring one or two people who could work on this 24/7. Town officials on the western side could bring their input as they know that area well, and if we all work together on this it would be beneficial to the whole county.

JR: Public safety and high speed internet are a couple of the basic building blocks that need to be in place in order to attract and maintain more economic development but I have already mentioned them. We also need to have economic development zones set aside where business can have expedited permitting to speed along the process.

Sussex county also has an office of economic development and I will work to make sure they have the tools necessary to proactively attract the types of business we would like to add to our area.

What is your view on residential development?

EM: When you live in a beautiful area like Sussex County, a certain amount of development is going to happen. I’d just like us to be smarter about it, especially when it comes to our roads on the Eastern side. I’m happy to meet with HOAs and community members to hear ideas as to how we can do better. There is a lot of talk about “buffers” and it’s time we start taking better care of our wetlands. Wetlands are “nature’s sponge” that helps with drainage so we have got to do a better job of protecting that natural resource.

John Rieley

JR: By every account, our population will continue to grow rapidly over the next ten years. Overall, new residential development contributes to prosperity of the area. It encourages new services to locate here which helps improve our quality of life. It also helps maintain the strong fiscal position of the county which means the county will be able to provide necessary services while keeping taxes low. Council’s task will be to keep new growth in harmony and in character with the existing development. The comprehensive plan that is about to be adopted will provide a guideline for policies and ordinances needed to insure this. As your councilman, I will be always considering the needs of the communities within the district and the impact of new development on them and on the infrastructure while protecting the rights of all property owners.

What role do you feel county government should have in the county’s agricultural community?

EM: Agriculture remains this state’s No. 1 industry. Ask any farmer, and they’ll tell you their concerns include making sure farming remains viable for generations to come; property rights are certainly a concern; and we need to continue to promote Sussex County Agriculture. As far as I’m concerned, we grow the best in the nation and whatever we can do on the county level to help protect, promote and provide what the farming community needs, I’d be in favor of.

JR: My wife and I live on our family farm We grow chickens commercially and have other livestock. My sons and my wife are able to run the operation which frees me to run for council. I mention this to say that I have an understanding of the needs of farmers and the challenges faced by farmers. I would say the biggest thing the council can do to help farmers is to stay out of the way and don’t pass ordinances that hinder their ability to operate or reduce the value of their land. The current wetlands calculation ordinance is a good example of something council ought not be doing. In addition, we need agriculture economic zones established where Ag related industry (such as the new barley processing facility near Laurel) can enjoy en expedited permitting process to help them get up and running faster.

What should be done to combat Delaware’s drug crisis?

EM: Education and treatment are the two best options that I know of. When my kids were in school, they were in the DARE program and I believe it was successful. I am not sure if funding is still available for something like that but any kind of educational campaign that would point our youth toward sports or the arts would be beneficial. You have to keep young people busy so they can stay out of trouble. Addiction is a terrible disease that affects so many families. There is no easy answer, but we’ve got to keep trying to keep our kids off drugs. It seems like the state is doing a better job of realizing that we need more treatment options and I am thankful for that.

JR: The role of the county is somewhat limited in relation to combating the drug crisis. However, we should be partnering with our police, towns and state legislators and be responsive to their needs. Also, I do believe that as the economy improves, especially on the western side of the county, it will help reduce the problem. I addition, our county paramedics will carry Narcan to help with overdoses. Finally, we can help support the detox center in Ellendale and promote the need for additional centers.

Closing thoughts?

EM: This job is about representing Sussex County residents and making careful decisions that are beneficial for all. I have a proven track record on the Sussex County Board of Adjustment for working with others and will continue this on County Council. I will represent you whether you were born in Sussex County or made the choice to come here. I will bring bold leadership, common sense solutions, and will work tirelessly on the issues that affect all us who love living here in Sussex County.

JR: As a recently retired financial adviser, I have the time to be able to devote to the job. I want to see Sussex county continue to be a great place to live and raise a family. I believe the decisions we make in the coming years can have long term impacts and I tend to look at the long term when making decisions, especially financial decisions for the county. I believe in the principals of limited government as close to the people as possible. I will pledge to oppose tax increases. I also pledge to be accessible and responsive. If you would like to contact me to discuss issues, call me at my cell, 302-858-8649.


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