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Letters to the Editor

Women Moving Sussex County Democrats Forward

Aug. 29, 2014

This is an extraordinary year in Delaware and Sussex County politics. Five Sussex County women, Democrats, are seeking election for seats on the Sussex County Council, a County row office, the State Senate, and the House of Representatives. I would venture to say, that it is the first time that any political party in Sussex County ran four women simultaneously.

Sussex County has a reputation for coming late to the party, when it comes to promoting women in politics. After all, it was the entire Sussex County delegation that walked out of the General Assembly in 1920, when it came time to vote for ratification of the Women's Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This was the second time it came up for a vote. The first time, the Speaker of the House was kidnapped and held in the basement of the local tavern until the vote was over. Delaware, as a whole struggled with women's voting rights and full citizenship.

Delaware did make a sort of history in 1920, by having the distinction of being the state that should have, could have given women voting rights. Instead, the State of Wyoming ratified the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920 (Women's Equality Day). It took many generations before Sussex County was forced to support women's right to full citizenship – voting, seeking elective office, and serving in elective office.

However, they did pass legislation before women had the right to vote that allowed widows to own property and make legal decisions concerning businesses they owned. This came about due to a Greenwood, Delaware widow with nine children. Mary Ann Sorden Stewart's husband passed away and she pleaded with the Sussex County government for the right to own her property and make decisions about her business. She presented a powerful argument, and convinced the government that it would be in their best interest to do so; and the tax revenue she would generate would help the county.

Thirty-four-years after the 19th Amendment was approved, a Georgetown mother, wife, and community activist, Mildred S. Tunnell, was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives. Mrs. Tunnell served in the 1954-56 Session of the General Assembly and was very active during her term. She sought support from her colleagues for legislation to pave all the roads in Delaware. Sussex County in particular was mostly dirt roads. While she retired from elective office in 1956, she was as active as ever. She was the director of the Delaware Nursing School, president of Delaware Cancer Society, and she also held national office. When Mrs. Tunnell moved to Wilmington, she was active in the DAR on the local and national level, and many community organizations.

Joan R. Deaver, Democrat, serves as the District 3 councilwoman on Sussex County Council, representing the Broadkill Beach, Ellendale, Lewes, and Lincoln, Milford, Milton, Primehook Beach and Slaughter Beach areas. Elected to Council in 2008, Ms. Deaver has the distinction of being the first woman elected to County Council; in it's more than 300-year history.

In November, there will be five smart, strong, well-educated, informed and passionate women on the Democrat side of the Election Ballot. They are eager to take their place at their respective tables to provide a woman's perspective, and work for all women and their families' economic empowerment.

These well educated, workingwomen combine their home and professional responsibilities with hard work, finesse, class, and style to improve the quality of life for all Sussex Countians. Alma Roach, Claire Snyder-Hall, Paulette Rappa, Marie Mayor and Shirley Price are working with all members of the Democrat ticket to move Delaware forward. They are eager to hear from you. Give them a call, or email, or better yet stop by their next event and meet them face-to-face and make your own decision why it is not only prudent, but smart to vote Democrat.

Paulette Rappa
37th District
Long Neck and Georgetown
(856) 371-1505

Claire Snyder-Hall
6th Senatorial District
Dewey, Rehoboth, Lewes, Milton, Harbeson
(302) 226-3976

Alma Roach
Sussex County
(302) 856-4912

Shirley Price
Sussex County Council
District 4
Rehoboth Beach, Long Neck, Oak Orchard, Ocean View to Bethany Beach
(302) 539-6738

Marie Mayor
20th Representative District
RD-20 includes most of the voters in Milton, Lewes, Harbeson and eastern unincorporated area of Georgetown
(302) 684-1602

Rhonda H. Tuman
President, SCWDC

Give Mayor CEO Authority

May 11, 2014

I have known Mr. Robin Christiansen for several decades. He is one of Dover's greatest “cheerleaders', and he is in fact a leader. He has long been a dedicated public servant, and he is in tune with the beat of his community.

Nearly 20 years ago we made the job of mayor a full-time job, with a decent salary, and City Council was to designate specific duties of the mayor. However, no such duties have been specified. It is long past time that the mayor of Dover be given specific responsibilities, as any CEO has. As Mr. Christiansen suggests, the Mayor should lead the police force and help set police policy. He/she should be actively involved with the city manager and all city department heads to guide and shape policy. Perhaps most importantly, the mayor should be the city's chief economic development  officer. In short, the Mayor should be more than a “hand-shaking figurehead” and should play a true leadership role in city government.

Our mayor should be given some real authority, so that when he “makes the political rounds” – as a liaison with the legislator, or courting Alan Levin of the Delaware Economic Development Office, people know that he can get the job done … DO whatever may need to be done to improve Dover.

Mr. Christiansen has what it takes to fulfill such responsibilities.

Ken Abraham,
Former prosecutor and now President of Citizens for Criminal Justice, and longtime Dover resident. 

Vote Goes Against Delaware Constitution

May 7, 2014

State Reps. Valerie Longhurst, John Viola and Peter Schwartzkopf, three of the five members of the House Administration Committee, voted a week ago to deny the Independent Redistricting Committee Bill to be released for a floor vote.

Their vote portends a continued closed redistricting process that allows incumbents to select their voters instead of voters selecting their representatives.

Their vote violates "all elections shall be free and equal" in the Bill of Rights Article 1, Sections 3 of the Delaware Constitution.'

Frank Sims
Newark, Del.

CHEER Needs Your Help

March 13, 2014

As executive director of CHEER, Inc., a non-profit agency responsible for senior citizen programs throughout Sussex County,  I get pleas from senior citizens who are begging me, on behalf of CHEER, to help with their many very serious concerns that they are having trying to live on a fixed income. Topping the recent concerns are the DART (Delaware Authority for Regional Transit) rate changes which took effect recently and the upcoming changes to DART Paratransit which become effective July 1st. 

Many are very tired of hearing that "paratransit services are not sustainable at the current rate" and that supposedly, everyone agrees. Well, I do not agree and have not talked to one single person who does believe this. Medicaid has not been sustainable for years, but it has never been cut nor has there ever been a charge to the clients. Paratransit is every bit as essential as is Medicaid, which seems to have no budget restrictions whatsoever.

Paratransit in Sussex County is essential to hundreds, if not thousands, of frail elderly who can no longer drive. It is not their fault that our Department of Transportation has failed to adequately plan and prepare for this predictable outcome. What happened to those transportation planners and all those consultants that something like this can even happen in a retirement state?

The Delaware Department of Transportation Joint Finance Committee Hearing has been rescheduled to March 19th at noon in Legislative Hall in Dover. Let me assure you, CHEER will be there and we hear your concerns. We will do our very best to send the message to our elected officials, but I would advise senior citizens and their family who are as concerned as I am about the future of transportation services in Sussex County to attend and sign up to speak, if not for yourself, for your parents and relatives who are fast becoming transportation dependent. I also recommend that you send letters to the editors of your local newspapers as I am doing.

Arlene S. Littleton
CHEER, Inc. Executive Director

How About 186,000 Fewer Marijuana Arrests?

March 12, 2014

The in-depth front page story in USA Today about 186,000 criminals, many violent, escaping justice by simply crossing state lines is illuminating. This is yet another tragic consequence of our misguided "War o Drugs": Drug cases and related crimes are sucking up so much time and money of police resources that they do not, will not, extradite violent criminals. We arrest nearly 750,000 people a year on non violent drug charges. This is preposterous, when it comes at the cost of thousands of violent criminals running free!

Ken Abraham, former prosecutor and president of Citizens for Criminal Justice
Dover, Del. 

Crime Lab Thefts

Feb. 26, 2014

Yet another consequence of the failed "War on Drugs" is police corruption. (The Kingpins have purchased virtually the entire Mexican Government!) It seems pretty clear that officials have stolen drugs from the testing labs of the Medical Examiner's Office. While the current discussion focuses on whether and how pending drug cases should go forward, the attention should focus on the Delaware Crime Reduction and Rehabilitation Act, soon to be introduced in the Delaware Legislature, which will divert non violent drug users to treatment centers instead of prison! This bill will reduce recidivism and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

One defense lawyer, whose client plead guilty to a marijuana charge and could get sentenced to eight years, said it was "a fair resolution of the case".  "Fair"? 8 years in prison? It is unjust, unwarranted, and unnecessary. Eight years in prison will cost Delaware taxpayers at least $280,000.00.  The one year court ordered personalized treatment program will cost Delaware taxpayers approximately $9,000. Which makes sense?

Ken Abraham, former prosecutor, president of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE
Dover, Del.

Sussex County Board of Adjustments' Decisions Questioned

Feb. 12, 2014

If you haven't read the article, here's the link:

The newspaper quoted the BOA members as saying, "It comes down to the residents' ability to enjoy their property" and "they (AT&T) had not exhausted opportunities for other locations" and "In  my opinion, it has substantially adversely affected the use of their property" and "the tower would substantially adversely affect neighboring properties."

As a resident, which attended the first original meeting on June 3, and all the others that followed, I am confused as to why that same logic and consideration did not take place by the BOA when the Allen Harim chicken slaughterhouse came before the BOA for the "Potentially Hazardous Use Permit," and then was granted on Sept. 23, 2013.

How is it when a chicken slaughterhouse is planned to be put in a residential community in Millsboro, which less than a mile down the road is an elementary school, and a little further is a middle school, that the BOA doesn't take the same position!!  I am sure if the chicken slaughterhouse comes to fruition that it will affect the nearby resident's ability to enjoy their property, property value, and most importantly how it will affect the health and well being of the communities that SURROUND this proposed facility. In addition, I don't believe Allen Harim has exhausted opportunities for other locations? How is it that the BOA didn't treat the local Millsboro people like they did the people in Bethany Beach?


Cindy Wilton
Millsboro, Del.

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