SUSSEX COUNTY - The race is heating up for the 5th district seat in the Sussex County Council. Vance Phillips has held that seat since 1998, but now he faces three challengers, as he faces a civil lawsuit.
Phillips is not facing a criminal lawsuit, after an investigation lead to a dismissal of the case. However, in February of 2015, he will be in court combating accusations of sexual misconduct on the civil stage. The alleged victim, a former intern said that Phillips engaged in various sexual acts against her, including rape when she was 18 years old.
Phillips said the accusations are false, although he did not go into more detail. He said he wanted the election to be about the issues, and not about the lawsuit, which he said would be "adjudicated" in court.
"It's being adjudicated," he said. "I knew from day one that this wasn't going anywhere at the law enforcement level, and it never did... I believe the voters know me well enough that it won't be an issue for me anyway."
He said that he was hopeful he would be re-elected due to his track record.
"I have experience," he said. "I have institutional knowledge. Yet I think I've remained grounded."
As of Friday, Vance has three candidates challenging his seat, two democrats and one republican.
Bob Wheatley, also of Laurel is a Democrat who said he is optimistic about his chances. Wheatley is currently the chairman of the County Planning and Zoning Commission. He is also a commercial Realtor, who is the business development director for the Whayland Company in Laurel.
He said his business background, along with his time on the commission give him a unique advantage.
"I've had extensive experience of course with land use," he said. "I've been a small business man for 20 years. I know what it is to make a payroll and try to make a quarter do the work of a ten dollar bill."
On the Democratic side, he is joined by Dagsboro Mayor Brad Connor. He has been the mayor of Dagsboro for two decades, and has served as the president of the Sussex County Association of Towns in the past. He said more should be done to create jobs, especially for those younger people entering the work force.
"My goal is to try to get technical companies, and healthcare companies, and more companies to invest down here," he said. "We have great school systems with great kids coming out of the school systems. And we just need to give them more opportunities."
The third challenger, who is on the Republican ticket is Harry Orvin Strickler of Roxana. On his front lawn, a sign laments over the gas tax. He said if he is elected, he will work on the county level to limit taxation.
"I'm running to protect the constitution," he said. "I want to be that person who is trustworthy. That you can count on to go hit home runs all day long, and get the job done."
There are still multiple months left for other candidates to step up. July 8, 2014 is the deadline for candidates to file for the position. The primary election will then be held on Sept. 9, 2014. Finally the general election will be held on Nov. 4, 2014.
Wednesday, August 27 2014 9:00 PM EDT2014-08-28 01:00:51 GMT
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