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.
Kevin E. Burdette was born in a small farming community in Maryland and then moved to Kensington, MD. As an adult he moved to Sussex County in 1974. Being the first in his family to attend college, he built his Civil Engineering technology background by working actively in the Well Drilling, Geo-technical and Water Treatment and Supply industry for over 18 years. As his interest expanded, he joined a Mid Atlantic Civil Engineering firm and eventually became a Principal in the business. His next 16 years included managing Surveying, Water & Wastewater Projects, Land Planning, Road Designs and Regulatory and Ordinance review in multiple states. Kevin was a founding member of a group to initiate the requirement of licensing of Potable Water Operators in the State of Delaware to promote Safe Drinking Water throughout the State, and was the first Water Operator ever licensed in the State. Kevin is currently a semi-retired Business Consultant. He is a Christian Family Man who is happily married to Nancy (Sombar, Shockley). They have four adult children and seven grandchildren, two of which live within two miles of their home.
- Why are you running for Sussex County Council?
Sussex County has some serious Traffic, Environmental, Health & Safety and Employee issues to address and manage over the next several years to direct our County’s future. I believe that my past experiences and technical background would be a better asset to the Council than those of my opponents in making sound decisions for the County’s future. I firmly believe that this Council Position is NOT ABOUT ME, but is about representing ALL Sussex Countians, focusing on ALL parts of the 3rd District, in making Sussex County a place that my Grandchildren and future generations will be proud to call home. Equally important is my love for Sussex County in that I plan on living here to my dying days and have no desire to have a winter home elsewhere and just reside here during the summer, this is MY HOME now and forever.
2. What personal or professional background will assist you in performing the duties of County Council ?
My nearly 40 years of “Hands On” working in the Environmental, Land Planning, Water, Wastewater, Traffic, Engineering Concepts and Agricultural arena provides me with a tremendous wealth of knowledge that cannot be gained from reading books or attending meetings. I have been an active Associate Member of the Sussex County Association of Towns (SCAT) for two decades. I have had the opportunity to work in other States and Regions and have seen Ordinances and Regulations that work and those that don’t. My work heritage has forced me to “Think Outside of the Box” in designing and adapting better ways to address current and potential issues and generating successful paths forward. I am experiencing and seeking daily how new technologies may improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of our County Government and improve our residents “Quality of Life”. My Life Experiences provides me with a deep understanding of the Agricultural Community’s needs and desires as well as those of a Small Business Owner. My years of being a Jaycee provides a proven record of service to humanity and making our communities better.
I have lived in rural areas and in metropolitan areas and appreciate the advantages and detriments of each. Most importantly, I am not afraid of hard work and have a proven desire and track record in making all our communities a better place to live.
3. What countywide challenges do you believe are most significant and how will you assist in finding a solution ?
County wide, I do not believe that Sussex County has been receiving the correct proportionate amount of State financial investment into our area. We are the fastest growing County in the State, however the Strategies for State Policies and Spending has over 90% of the County rated as the Lowest Priority for State Financial Investment. As most of our major road system improvements and upgrades are controlled and funded by the State (DelDOT), traffic has become a hindrance in many areas. The funds that have been invested by DelDOT have been politically driven by Northern Legislators to install Cloverleaves along Rt. 1 to eliminate Traffic Lights for their northern constituents that are travelling to the coastal areas. Unfortunately, the elimination of these Traffic Lights makes it extremely difficult to cross Rt. 1 from “At Grade Crossings” as the pulsing of the traffic created by “Red Lights” is being eliminated. Consequently, vehicular and farming equipment attempting to cross Rt. 1 will become more and more difficult and potentially dangerous. Equally, a massive amount of traffic is being deposited from a “High Speed Highway” directly into a “Town Main Street” in both the Lewes-Rehoboth Area and in Milford at the Rt. 113 Split Off.
My solution is to work with State Legislators and increase the financial investment share into Sussex County. We need to create a southern Milford routing from Rt. 1 to Rt. 113 as well as By Passes for Georgetown, Millsboro and Dagsboro. At the same time, we must improve our East – West roadways with Passing Lanes, Turn Lanes and By-Pass Lanes coordinated with better signage (and electronic directioning for Vehicular GPS’s) to direct travelers to use these routes. We need to implement the usage of Special Tax Districts along with Public-Private Partnerships to be established for the immediate financing, design and construction of roadway improvements.
The County needs to institute Regional Planning & Approval in lieu of Parcel By Parcel Zoning Approvals. The drafting of the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the entire County is currently underway, and the new Council will be approving this Plan. It is my commitment to insure that this Plan fairly represents the desires of Sussex Countians, as it will direct the future development of Sussex County for the next decade or longer. Furthermore, we need to insure that we are being mindful of our environmental assets, such as Potable Drinking Water and the disposal of Wastewater in all of our future plans. My past experiences will be a tremendous asset in insuring that these critical items are considered.
4. What local challenges do you believe are most significant and how will you assist in finding a solution ?
Outside of the traffic issues referenced above, I believe the need for sustainable economic growth with “Clean” industry and being able to reduce the Regulatory frustration and related challenges of operating a Small Business would be the largest local challenge.
Sussex County’s Small Businesses make up about 90% of our businesses, yet we have limited resources to assist these businesses in navigating through the various regulatory challenges. I am proposing that we utilize our Sussex County Economic Development Office (SCEDO) to provide an Ombudsman Program to provide regulatory guidance for these companies on the County, State and Federal level. Sussex County currently has 25% of our population that is over the age of 65. Many of these retirees have extensive Business knowledge, I am therefore promoting a volunteer Mentorship Program through SCEDO to assist our Small Business operators.
The new Bayhealth Medical Center Complex will be a strong financial catalyst for the Sussex & Kent County area, however with that complex there comes a need for additional medical staffing and related support businesses. I am proposing the active solicitation of a Four Year University / College, preferably with a Medical Program, to be located within the Milford, Lincoln, Ellendale and northern Milton area. This facility should augment the additional need for a medically trained workforce and provide a reliable diversified employment base for our young adults. It will as well provide a cultural benefit that normally is found around higher education institutes.
5. How will you work with local officials to meet the needs of residents within the district you represent ?
I am the ONLY CANDIDATE that has been an active member in the Sussex County Association of Towns, and I have been so for nearly 20 years. I believe that it is imperative to have an Open Line of communication with the Towns to insure that the Goals align and that the various Departments communicate effectively with each other. I as well have an exceptional relationship with the State Legislators and Regulators in Dover. Open communication and Common Sense will be my overlying factor in working with local officials.
6. Give an example of something Sussex County Council has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware.
Sussex County has an Award Winning Emergency Medical Service (EMS). The EMS is dispatched from 10 Stations throughout the County that houses 70 highly trained and accredited EMS Technicians. The EMS operates on an approximate $14.8 Million budget each year. They provide a high quality of care and are a good investment of our County resources, particularly when we recognize that 25% of our County population is over the age of 65.
7. Give an example of something you would like to change in the next year if you are elected to Sussex County Council.
Change the current Planning & Zoning / Council Procedures for the Review & Actions on Land Use Issues: 1. Require at least one Public Meeting Between the Developers & Local Residents before Submission of the Project to the P&Z Commission. 2. Require a 30-45 Day Period Between a P&Z Commission Decision and the Submission to the County Council to enable the Council to have Open Discussions with Constituents PRIOR to the Council’s Official Hearing of the Case. Currently, once the Council has an Official Hearing on a Case, they CANNOT meet or take input from the Public without violating the Law. 3. Require a County Council Decision within 60 Days of the Closing of the Council’s Official Hearing on Land Use and Development Cases.
8. Why should voters choose you over your opponent on Tuesday, September 13 ?
I believe that my background which provides a technical understanding of Water, Wastewater, Land Planning, Stormwater and Traffic provides the experience that none of my opponents can offer. While I have been active within the Sussex County community, not all of my opponents have been. There are going to be numerous tough Land Use and Technical decisions that are going to need to be made in the next four years, and I would like to be able to serve the Sussex County residents in offering sound decisions without any conflicts of interest. I believe that I have the demonstrated ability to be Proactive in observing potential issues and make corrective decisions before the issues become critical. I look forward to providing ongoing Constituent Service, as I have said earlier that this Election is not about me, it is about choosing the most experienced person that will widen the experience of our County Council so that wise decisions are made for our future.
In addition to my technical ability, I believe that I have the HEART to serve Sussex County and represent ALL of the 3rd District fairly, and not just the Lewes area. The modified Jaycee Creed that I have lived my life by, probably says it best: I believe that Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life. That the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations. Economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise. Common Sense, Minimal Government should be of laws for ALL people, rather than for the benefit of ONE person. Earth’s great treasure lies in human personality. And that Service to humanity is the best work of life.
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