On Tuesday, September 13, local Republican voters will be deciding which candidate they want to represent their County district in the upcoming general election. The 3rd District of the Sussex County Council represents northeastern Sussex County including parts of Ellendale, Milford, Milton, Lewes and Slaughter Beach. The four Republican candidates are Kevin Burdette, Irwin Burton III, Mark Shaeffer and Frank Shade.
Mark Schaeffer, former mayor of Smyrna and Little Creek, has been a real estate Broker for 28 years specializing in Land Use. A 1988 graduate of the University of Delaware, Schaeffer has a background in construction, appraising and auctioneering and managed a manufactured home community. He served for a decade as a Delaware River and Bay Authority commissioner and has served as a member, officer or board member of numerous organizations including Governors Council on Labor, American Red Cross of Central Delaware, Central Delaware YMCA, Kent County Hospital Foundation, Kent County Board of Realtors, Smyrna Main Street Association and Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce. He served two terms as chairman of the Kent County Republican Committee and was also 33rd Representative District chairman. Schaeffer moved to Lewes full time eight years ago after spending many summers, weekends and vacations in the Cape Region. He is married to Ruby Keeler Schaeffer and the couple has five children and eight grandchildren
1. Why are you running for Sussex County Council?
I and my family are increasingly concerned that excessive traffic, improperly planned sprawl, and encroachment of unbalanced development upon our natural resources that is negatively impacting landowners, residents, and tourists. I am running to: better protect our quality of life, bring an independent and fresh perspective to a more responsible comprehensive plan (2018). A new comp plan must address: more predictability in commercial zonings, better preserve open space and aglands preservation while promoting a more balanced, responsible growth plan
2. What personal or professional background will assist you in performing the duties of County Council ?
First, I have a successful record of accomplishment as a former chief executive of a municipality with a budget of $ 25,000,000,+/-. With my leadership, we enacted and created the first state certified and approved comprehensive plan which is a guideposts for future growth, conservation efforts, and economic development efforts – all integrated and coordinated with applicable state agencies (Del DOT, DNREC, DEDO). Second, I have over 35 years of successful experience in land use issues, zoning and site plan reviews processes. I know what is working and, more importantly, what is NOT working for voters in Sussex county and district 3.
3. What countywide challenges do you believe are most significant and how will you assist in finding a solution ?
In addition to providing water and sewer services, Susssex county predominately controls the future of land use vis-à-vis an adopted and state certified comprehensive plan. A well written and communicated comp plan is our land development, land conservation, and land preservation guideposts for voters, developers, state agencies, and others. It tells you, in advance. where infrastructure and transportation roadway capacity investments should be made. We need and I will advocate for: “Transportation Investment Districts” (TID) as our other 2 state county’s already have in place. TID’s keep developer monies and investments in those districts and avoid money being outsourced elsewhere. Additionally, TID’s bring more cohesive, integrated, and coordinated improvements which: reduce traffic congestion, repair or replace failed roadways, and make for a better long range future of planned, responsible growth. The days of ad-hoc and piecemeal development need to stop- we have seen what that can do over the past 10 to 15 years and longer. Because we don’t have TID’s, we are not getting our fair share of state transportation funding. Another reason for lack of state transportation investments in Sussex, is the lack of leadership in our district. I will bring my extensive and valuable experiences and proven record of job creation to all of Sussex county.
4. What local challenges do you believe are most significant and how will you assist in finding a solution ?
The key challenges are excessive traffic, sprawl, and lack of integration and coordination with state agencies, Del DOT, DNREC, and DEDO. In addition we have an outdated commercial zoning district with only 4 choices. They are: Urban business district, B-1 Neighborhood Business, C-1 General commercial, and CR -1. In the existing commercial zoning districts sometimes there could be over 100 permitted uses. The result is complete lack of predictability. Most other municipalities have many more clearly defined commercial districts and/or sub-districts which further delineate what is a permitted use. When elected, I will use my 35+ years of land use and rezoning experiences to better delineate, define, and drive the administration , planning department, and comp plan to adopt new zoning ordinances which provide greatly improved planning and much needed predictability.
5. How will you work with local officials to meet the needs of residents within the district you represent ?
For years I have already worked with state agencies, municipalities, and state government elected and appointed officials. As a former elected mayor, I recognize the importance of involving, engaging, and communicating timely and effectively with officials at all levels of government. The State of Delaware constitution provides land use can be addressed at the county and municipal levels of government because we are close to the people and I take that responsibility very seriously. I know, when we work positively and timely together, we can do a much better of job of planning and investing our resources. Our district 3 needs state resources to provide traffic mitigation strategies and relief asap. I will lobby hard for that to happen and I know it will take time, but it is critical.
6. Give an example of something Sussex County Council has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware.
Sussex County has kept its property taxes low and they have done a good job of enhancing our paramedic service. In addition, by negotiating with the State police we have a much more affordable police presence in the county with little overlap in other nearby municipal jurisdictions . Our fire company’s which are predominately volunteer need more financial help and more volunteers so it is an area for us to work harder on.
7. Give an example of something you would like to change in the next year if you are elected to Sussex County Council.
I would work to change the commercial district 4 code designations to provide more predictability in conjunction with the revised comprehensive land use plan. Most important I will advocate for TID’s so money raised in Sussex, stays in Sussex for infrastructure and roadway capacity. Combined with state funding from the state Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) we would than have an improved opportunity to more readily address sprawl and traffic congestion. The State TTF was created in 1985 and was designed to address state transportation capital needs only….it’s time it got back to that mission and stop using monies to buttress operations expenses.
8. Why should voters choose you over your opponent on Tuesday, September 13 ?
I am the lifelong Republican in this primary and have the land use experience and knowledge and contacts to help our district and Sussex county make the changes needed to maintain the high quality of life we have come to expect. I have worked for GOP candidates up and down this state and live in Lewes with my family. Check out my website and see my background: www.Mark2016.com Two of my opponents were prior long time Democrats and one worked on Democrat candidates’ campaigns and the other ran as a Democrat against Ruth King (R). We really don’t know for sure their philosophy’s about government or their land use experience. The other R candidate, appointed by a Democrat, has had 15 years on the Governor’s state highway commission and 8 years on the Sussex county planning commission to address the ever increasing traffic congestion and recently voted to approve, over residents vociferous objections and Lewes council concerns about their water supply; the Gills neck commercial development. If the future is anything like the last 10 to 15 years of his voting and experience, we need a change. I am independent, have the knowledge, time and energy, and desire to serve the public…and ask for your support.
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