for County Council
Phillips in District 5
Sussex County Online Publisher
Fenwick Island Mayor Peg Baunchalk has thrown her hat into the ring to challenge incumbent Vance Phillips for the District 5 seat on Sussex County Council this November.
Baunchalk, a Democrat, is challenging the first-term Republican councilman from Laurel, whose district was redrawn last fall to include the coastal areas from South Bethany to Fenwick Island. District 5 had previously included only the south-central and south-western portions of the county.
Her campaign is in its infancy as she just filed on Wednesday, Feb. 7, Baunchalk said, but she has named Bethany Beach real estate agent Vickie York as her campaign manager and Charlotte Anderson as her campaign treasurer.
Baunchalk has been mayor of Fenwick Island for the past seven years after serving her first two years on council as treasurer. She just completed a two-year term as president of the Delaware League of Local Governments and is a past president of the Sussex County Association of Towns.
Her current term in Fenwick expires in 2003. Baunchalk said there is no requirement in Fenwick that she resign as mayor to campaign for county council but that she planned to discuss the situation with other Fenwick council members on Friday, Feb. 8.
As mayor of Fenwick Island, Baunchalk has been most concerned with growth in the coastal area and its impact on the quality of life there. She helped lead last June's Association of Coastal Towns' request for a moratorium on rezonings in the coastal zone.
"I saw all of what happened up there (New Castle County)," said Baunchalk. "It was a horror. I mean it was a horror. From Newark up to Wilmington (along Kirkwood Highway), it was once just one Gulf station. Now it's a mess."
And while she has only held political office in Fenwick Island, Baunchalk said she has served on enough committees and with enough non-coastal organizations to understand the needs of residents in central and western Sussex County.
"I think a lot of the things I've been involved in in the last nine years, I do understand some of their problems," said Baunchalk. "I'd certainly get in there and work hard to understand their problems as well as I do the area where I live. In my capacity with SCAT and the Delaware League, I've worked with mayors all over the county."
Besides working for what she calls "sensible growth," Baunchalk cited economic development and farmland preservation as major issues facing the county.
"One of our major issues is the preservation of farmland and the importance of that to the economic well-being of our county," said Baunchalk. "Also, economic development, getting businesses here that will encourage people here to stay and work in Sussex County. We have to foster sensible growth. We have to encourage the unique quality of the life we have here. To me, Sussex County is a very, very special place and one I love very much."
Baunchalk said she decided to run after receiving persistent encouragement from others over the past few months, both from within and from without Fenwick Island.
"I kept saying, 'No, no, there are things I want to do here still'," said Baunchalk. "But when I really sat down and thought about it, I just figured, 'Well, maybe with the knowledge and experience I have, maybe I could not only help the surrounding communities, but continue to work for Fenwick Island and all the other municipalities, too.
"I think I do have the background and proven track record," she continued. "I think I have the drive and stamina to be successful at this or anything else I really try. I think my experience in various capacities in local government qualifies me as a candidate to serve people in this councilmanic district."
Baunchalk and her husband Ron have lived in Fenwick since retiring from the Pike Creek/Stanton area of New Castle County in 1992. She worked in the administrative office at the University of Delaware and as an instructional aide in an elementary school before retiring to Fenwick.
Besides her duties on Fenwick Island Town Council, Baunchalk serves on Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's Livable Delaware Advisory council and the Governor's Wastewater Facility Advisory Council, on three other sub-committees for the Governor including transferable development rights and community design, on the Route 54 Study Planning and Work Group, on the Delaware Department of Transportation's Transit Advisory Committee, on the Delaware Economic Development Council, on the Center for the Inland Bays Finance Committee, and on the Center for the Inland Bays Little Assawoman Tributary Team.
She is also a member of the Fenwick Island Lions Club, the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse Board of Directors.
The only other county council seat up for grabs this fall is the District 4 seat of incumbent Republican George Cole.
The deadline for filing for county office for this fall's election is July 26, 2002, at noon.
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