Candidates Face off in WBOC Debate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Candidates Face off in WBOC Debate

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MILTON, Del.- One of the closely watched primary races in southern Delaware is the the District 5 Sussex County Council seat. In the days before the primary, WBOC brought in all four candidates to face off in a debate. 

Each candidate answered six questions asked by the moderator, in regards to jobs, the economy, integrity, and much more. 

On the Republican ticket, incumbent Vance Phillips is competing against Rob Arlett, who is sponsored by the Republican Party of Delaware and Sussex County. Meanwhile, on the Democrats side, Chairman of the County Planning and Zoning Commission Bob Wheatley faces off against the Dagsboro Mayor Brad Connor. 

Incumbent Vance Phillips said he's been an advocate for smaller government and low taxes for his entire 16-year career on county council. 

"We would expect all the candidates to say that jobs is the number one issue," he said. "But I'm going to suggest that maybe there's something behind that problem. I call it 'liberal creep.' The liberals have taken over Washington, DC. And they're primarily on the Democratic side." 

Phillips said that throughout his time, he has been a voice for conservatism. 

"We have to have strong, proven conservative leaders there," he said. "And that's what I've done throughout my 16-year career."

Phillips has an impending civil lawsuit in February, after being accused of sexual wrongdoing by a female intern. His Republican competitor Rob Arlett said that Phillips' distractions would get in the way of his leadership. 

"I think it's who you're voting for," he said. "I believe we need much better public officials than what we've had. Specifically within councilman five. And I come with no agendas. I come with no issues as far as any controversies." 

He also said more need to be done to address the job market in Sussex County. 

"Government doesn't create jobs," he said. "But we certainly have a microphone. We can talk about it. And I think we have so much to celebrate in Sussex County. We ought to do a much better job at marketing ourselves to folks that want to come here." 

On the Democratic side, Wheatley said that his vast experience in county government makes him the best candidate for the job. 

"This is my twentieth year," he said. "Actually I have more county level service than anyone in this race."

He said that his extensive knowledge of land-use would be an important factor. 

"Land-use is a very important part of what county council does. And I would suggest to you that my time on planning and zoning has qualified me substantially to serve the people of the fifth district to that capacity." 

Lastly, Dagsboro Mayor Brad Connor said that his local roots, allow him to connect with the people of the county more than the other candidates. 

"This idea of party is new to me," he said. "Because I've always just worked for people. And when working for people, what you find out is that you get a lot of things done not worrying about (it)... The people that we have in office right now are partisan to the eighth degree." 

Connor said that his two sons moved out of the county because they couldn't get a job. He said this highlights the need for changes to the county job market. 

"The first thing that I've found that is really lacking is a jobs-first-program that is highlighted in my campaign..." he said. "I want to open the economic development office and start working with the state to bring some good jobs into the western side of the county."

Delaware's primary elections will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 9. To see clips from the debate, you can get it now on www.wboc.com, by clicking on the Web Xtra button in the top right corner. 

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