Incumbents Banta, Sweeney win Levy Court seats

 

Kent County Levy Court and row office candidates mustered at the State Trooper Association Tuesday night to watch election results roll in. The gathering turned out to be a victorious one for most of them. (Delaware State News/Ian Gronau)

Kent County Levy Court and row office candidates mustered at the State Trooper Association Tuesday night to watch election results roll in. The gathering turned out to be a victorious one for most of them. (Delaware State News/Ian Gronau)

DOVER — Around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday Brooks Banta knew he would be serving his sixth consecutive Levy Court term.

He won the 1st District race with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Democrat George “Jody” Sweeney also held off Republican challenger John Sigler in the 5th District.

Mr. Banta, also a Democrat, and Mr. Sweeney have been sitting on the Kent County Levy Court for 20 and eight years respectively.

Mr. Banta’s opponent, Republican Charlotte Middleton, hinged her campaign on the promise to bring an outsider’s fresh perspective and vision to the court.

“It’s an outstanding outcome,” Mr. Banta said Tuesday night. “It was a clean campaign, it feels good to win and I’m happy it’s over.”

Mr. Banta, a 50-year resident of the 1st District, spent Election Day making the rounds in his district and was encouraged to see so many voters.

“I was between Smyrna, Clayton, Leipsic, Cheswold and Kenton and went back and forth all day long,” he said. “At every poll it was busy. The turnout seemed tremendous. It’s democracy, it’s a good thing.”

Statewide voter turnout was 65.3 percent, according to the Delaware Department of Elections.

His opponent, Ms. Middleton, has lived in Delaware for 12 years with her husband and four children.

In the 5th District race, Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Sigler had exchanged barbs over Kent County emergency response preparedness throughout their respective campaigns via debate appearances and published letters to the Delaware State News. On Tuesday, the district’s residents decided they’d be better off with Mr. Sweeney serving a third term than Mr. Sigler serving his first.

P. Brooks Banta

P. Brooks Banta

Mr. Sigler, who announced his candidacy in late August, ran his campaign by leaning heavily on experience gained during service in the U.S. Navy, as a captain for the Dover Police Department, as chairman of both the Kent County Republican Committee and Delaware’s Republican State Committee, as a two-term president of the National Rifle Association of America and as a Kent County lawyer.

Mr. Sweeney first ran in 2007 during a special election called after Commissioner Donald Blakey vacated the 5th District seat to move on to the state legislature.

According to Mr. Sweeney, he lost that election by 52 votes. After that he rededicated himself to the effort.

“I started coming to Levy Court every Tuesday night and sat in the audience and learned everything about the process,” he said. “I came back in 2008 and won that election by 58 percent to 42 percent.”

The margins were closer this time — Mr. Sweeney walking away with 54 percent of the vote to Mr.Sigler’s 46 percent.

Jody Sweeney

Jody Sweeney

Professionally, Mr. Sweeney said he’s been in information technology for his entire life, spending 20 years with the state and then moving on to become the chief information officer at Wesley College in Dover.

Kent County Levy Court and row office candidates mustered at the State Trooper Association Tuesday night for what turned out to be a victory gathering for many of them. Current Register of Wills Harold Brode fought off Republican opponent Michael Routh for his seat and Brenda Wootten won the post currently held by her mother — Clerk of the Peace — in a run against Republican D.J. Silicato. Loretta Wootten is retiring after serving three four-year terms.

“I know my mother will say hallelujah, it’s over,” said Ms. Wootten. “She said it kind of feels like she was running all over again. She helped me so much.”

Ms. Wootten plans to honor a campaign pledge she made earlier in the year of retiring from her current full-time position with the state of Delaware so she can dedicate herself fully to the duties of Clerk of the Peace.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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