5th District candidate Rieley welcomes opportunity to make tough council decisions

MILLSBORO – Rural Millsboro-area resident John Rieley says Sussex County faces some tough decisions now and in the future.

He’d like to be part of the decision-making process as a member of Sussex County Council.

John Rieley

Mr. Rieley, 62, filed in late June as a Republican candidate in the 5th District. That council seat will be vacated by Rob Arlett, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

“It’s going to be an open seat,” said Mr. Rieley. “We’re looking at the issues facing the county.”

Mr. Rieley has served in several official capacities with the Sussex County Republican Committee, including vice chairman and chairman. He has also been very active with the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, serving several terms as president.

Farming is the life of the Rieley family. Poultry, goats and cattle are part of their Gravel Hill Road farm operation. The family is very active in FFA and 4-H organizations.

Mr. Rieley has worked for Merrill Lynch since last year. Previously he was in banking with Citizens Bank.

Mr. Rieley and wife Lou Ann, who was honored as Delaware’s 2013 Mother of the Year, have 11 children and one adopted child.  “Two children live in the Washington, D.C. area, but the rest are either on the farm or close by,” said Mr. Rieley. Their home has been a foster home for many other children.

Demographically, Sussex County Council’s 5th District is diverse, encompassing tourism in coastal Fenwick Island and South Bethany, agriculture in rural Laurel, Delmar, Frankford and Gumboro as well as growing municipalities of Selbyville and Millsboro.

If elected, he said he will work for a fair balance between development growth, tourism and agriculture.

“You really do encompass the east/west kind of character of Sussex County in the 5th District where you have competing interests,” said Mr. Rieley. “Finding the right balance to protect everybody’s interests, so all parties are accommodated, that is going to be the job of the next council. And how do we manage that effectively so that we maintain our quality of life and also keep our taxes down? That is the trick.”

“Farming is the No. 1 industry in Sussex County. We are heavily dependent on farms and farm income in this area. And yet tourism is also second, so there is competing interest,” said Mr. Rieley. “I think those are the issues.”

At a 5th District resident, Mr. Rieley has witnessed growth over the years. “As farmers we want to make sure we protect the property rights of landowners. But we still have this issue of growth that is probably going to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Mr. Rieley said he has watched Sussex County grow and change from a rural farming community with some tourism to a premier retirement and resort destination.

“This has brought both benefits and challenges,” he said. “As the 5th District Council representative I want to work to protect our farms, open spaces and natural resources while strengthening economic opportunities and quality of life now and in the future for the next generations. It is important to do this in a fiscally responsible way and to keep taxes low and regulations to a minimum.”

Mr. Rieley believes Sussex County must begin mapping out a long-range financial plan.

“Looking longer term to a point where the Baby Boomer generation begins to recede, and we don’t have people moving here by the thousands, and the transfer tax is not as strong as it is today, the county is going to be facing some financial challenges at that point,” he said. “So, how do we prepare now for something that might be 15 to 20 years off in the future, but we know is coming. Those are important things that I think about.”

Mr. Rieley will face Kevin Christophel of Laurel in the Republican primary in September. Democrat Ellen Magee is also seeking the 5th District council seat.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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