Joan Deaver to seek second Sussex County Term

District 3 serves Milton, Lewes

By Ron MacArthur

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Cape Gazette, March 2, 2012

Although she hasn't officially filed, Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, will run for a second term in District 3. She plans to make a formal announcement sometime in June.

Deaver, who has embraced the electronic age to reach her constituents, used her Facebook page to make the announcement. Deaver was elected in 2008 when she defeated Mark Baker of Milton to replace retiring Lynn Rogers of Milton, who held the seat for 12 years. She and two other newcomers were sworn into office in January 2009.

“I've always been interested in government, but I never thought I would be running for office,” she said. When first asked by local Democrats to throw her hat in the ring, she said no. “But my kids and husband said go for it, so I did,” she said.

She has worked as a lobbyist and community activist before running for office.

Deaver said she has found herself in a unique situation as the first woman elected to Sussex County Council. “Doors are now opening for other women,” she said. “I think I'm expected to champion the needs of other women, minorities and the elderly.”

As the lone woman and Democrat on the five-member council, Deaver said she finds herself left out of the loop on many occasions. “I've been on my own since the day I walked in there, but I can handle it,” she said.

Although she has lived in Sussex County full time since 1995, she is still learning who the major players are. “I'm learning all the time,” she said. “I'm starting to learn who is who.”

The councilwoman said she is most proud of her constituent services. She holds regular meetings in her district and keeps constituents up to date with county happenings on her website and a Facebook page. She also sends out emails on a regular basis. “It's all about service,” she said.

Early on, she complained about the size and readability of public hearing notice signs posted on properties. Through her efforts, the signs have been enlarged and are easier to read. “But they still need to be bigger,” she said.

She has pushed to get more information on the county's website, but she said even more needs to be done. “We need more information for the public. I'm for as much transparency as possible,” she said.

One of the most frustrating issues she has dealt with is the lack of a land-use planner on staff. “We've had three years with no planner; planning is driven by developers. It's like the tail wagging the dog,” she said.

“The attitude I get from the rest of council is 'Why bother?' They would not listen to him be­cause they don't want changes. They are not willing to hire a planner. Our future is living with unplanned growth,” she said. “So many mistakes have been made over the years, and with some planning, they could have been avoided.”

Deaver has pushed passage of an adequate public facilities ordi­nance for managed growth. “It's been met with hostility from the other side of the county and business people, but it's designed to protect taxpayers,” she said.

She said many of her con­stituents are concerned about growth issues. “There has been so much growth over the past 10 years, and people in my district have had to live with it. They want to know who is going to pay for services as growth contin­ues,” she said.

There are currently 12,000 ap­proved building lots in the coun­ty, Deaver said.

Deaver said she would like to continue and expand her efforts connecting businesses with the county to help create jobs. She has been attending chamber of commerce meetings to gain more knowledge about econom­ic development throughout the county. She has a business back­ground as a marina operator in Annapolis, Md.

Deaver said she was surprised that running county government and running a business are not the same. “The goals are totally different, and you are dealing with public money,” she said. “It's not what I expected.”

Republican Don Ayotte of Georgetown has filed to run against Deaver. The deadline to file for the Sussex County Coun­cil election is noon, Tuesday, July 10.