Six of the candidates seeking seats on Sussex County Council were at the Indian River Fire Company on Monday night to weigh in on manufactured housing and land use issues. The forum, sponsored by the Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association (DMHOA), was the second of its kind leading up to the September primary elections, and the candidates were eager to play to the home crowd.


Six of the candidates seeking seats on Sussex County Council were at the Indian River Fire Company on Monday night to weigh in on manufactured housing and land use issues.

The forum, sponsored by the Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association (DMHOA), was the second of its kind leading up to the September primary elections, and the candidates were eager to play to the home crowd.

“It’s disgraceful the way you people have been treated,” Third Councilmanic District Democratic candidate Joan Deaver told the gathered members of DMHOA, which has become one of the county’s largest special interest groups in recent years. “I’m at home with you…I will be part of your team.”

“There are some tremendous inequities going on in some of these [mobile home] parks,” added Judson Bennett, a Republican candidate for the same district.

Overall, the forum served as more of a get-to-know-you session of the candidates in attendance, including Deaver, Bennett and Bennett’s primary opponent Mark Baker. Former Georgetown Mayor Mike Wyatt and former Sussex County Sheriff Bob Reed, who are both seeking the Second Councilmanic District seat, were also in attendance, and Mike Vincent, from the First District race, was there.

Candidates from the Third District race did square off on land use issues, however, with Deaver and Bennett arguing for stricter zoning codes and Baker voicing his support for the county’s current AR-1 zoning, which allows two units per acre on agricultural/residential land.

“It’s going to be interesting if Joan Deaver and I run against each other because we agree on this completely,” Bennett said, but Baker defended the zoning.

“Down-zoning, as proposed, would have a catastrophic effect on the agricultural economy,” he said. “[But] it doesn’t mean we can’t do something else to preserve open space.”

“He means he wants to do whatever he wants to on his property,” Bennett responded. “Nobody should profit because somebody else loses.”

“Better zoning won’t make rents go up,” Deaver added.

Ultimately, the candidates stated their basic platforms and listened to members of DMHOA as they recounted stories of fighting for equal housing rights and struggling with what they see as inequitable county ordinances.

“There are 30,000 plus manufactured homes on rented land in Sussex County,” DMHOA President Ed Speraw told the candidates in attendance. “It might behoove you to take a look at manufactured housing.”

The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 9, with the General Election on Nov. 4.

The three Democratic county council incumbents announced late last month they would not be seeking re-election.