County council candidate Rappa aims to be a ‘different’ voice

MILLSBORO – With family roots planted deep in Sussex County, Paulette Rappa has deep passion for her local community.

It makes senses, she says, to give back in an important decision-making way.

In late June, Ms. Rappa filed as a Democratic Party candidate for the Sussex County Council District 4 seat. It is currently held by 32-year councilman George Cole, a Republican from Ocean View who is eying retirement.

Paulette Rappa

“I decided to run because much can be said about what takes place in Washington or what takes place in Dover. But at the end of the day, what really concerns people is their own backyard, their own community, their own slice of the pie,” said Ms. Rappa. “And since I have put roots here, my children are being raised here, I work now in Georgetown, I have concerns about the community and what direction Sussex County is going in.”

“I decided once George Cole said, ‘I am retiring,’ that it was time for a voice to reflect the needs that emerged out of that district,” said Ms. Rappa, a lifelong Long Neck resident.

District 4, commonly known as the coastal district, encompasses all or portions of Bethany Beach, Rehoboth, Lewes, Oak Orchard, Long Neck and Millsboro.

“It is probably the densest and the most environmentally sensitive,” Ms. Rappa said.

Since the 2016 election, Sussex County Council’s political makeup has been all-Republican.

“Overall, for the whole county impact, right now Sussex County is controlled by one voice. There is no dialogue. It is simply one point of view,” said Ms. Rappa. “We all agree whether it is on our local radio station, talk radio, or newspaper … that one-party rule in Dover is not healthy. Well, the same can be true down here in Sussex. It is a one-party rule. It doesn’t initiate that kind of dialogue, the new and different ideas that would encompass everybody and being more inclusive of all the needs of the people. That type of imbalance needs to change.”

Ms. Rappa concurs that growth, residential and business, will not stop. Nor should it, with proper and adequate planning, she says.

“Growth adds to the economy. Growth signifies progress. But unplanned growth is a threat to the environment and to the county infrastructure, the community resources that sustain the quality of life,” said Ms. Rappa. “I am advocating for smarter growth. We do need to protect our waters. We do need to coordinate solutions for that traffic, particularly in my district for public safety demands, and overall for the county’s better economic development.”

Ms. Rappa has some solutions and ideas she’d bring to the table as a councilwoman.

“The district as it stands now has a number of unincorporated areas that don’t have a direct voice,” said Ms. Rappa. “I am proposing to introduce a hometown overlay. It is intended to perpetuate and enhance the character of a community. The purpose of the overlay is to ensure that the re-development and changes to the zoning pattern are compatible to the existing community. It gives back particularly to the unincorporated areas the ability to plan for themselves, their own community because of their unique characteristics.”

Her focus to address growth is to have better coordinated solutions with DelDOT, DNREC and the state. “We need to have better communication and better planning,” she said. “We are not going to stop the projections that are projected even as far out as 2045, suggesting that at some point we are going to have close 260,000 fulltime residents.  We can’t just plop them all in Sussex County and then expect nothing to change, with no understanding of the unintended consequences.”

Ms. Rappa, 56, is employed as executive director of The Way Home, a Georgetown-based non-profit that assists former incarcerated citizens transition back into the community.  She taught 16 years in public education.

Ms. Rappa has four children, four stepchildren and five grandchildren.

She is the immediate past president of the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary, having recently passed the president’s reins, and is the Sunrise Rotary’s membership chair. Ms. Rappa also serves on the steering committee for Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, works with League of Women Voters and serves on the state committee on housing for re-entry reform.

Ms. Rappa, who has sought elected state office several times, says her hope and mission is to bring another voice to the governing body of Sussex County.

“Like what Einstein said. Keep doing the same thing over and over again and then expecting different results, that is just plain crazy,” said Ms. Rappa. “We need a different voice.”

Ms. Rappa awaits the winner of the Republican primary between District 4 candidates Douglas Hudson of Clarksville and George Parish of Millsboro. The primary election is Sept. 6.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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