Sussex County Delaware
Sheriff's Race Offers
Referendum on Office
Sussex Beat, August 7, 2002

NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.

Kerin Magill, Sussex County Online

SC Online

Elections 2002

If ever a campaign offered a referendum on a specific issue, this fall's race for Sussex County Sheriff would be it.

Marshall Craft Sr., the 59-year-old Bridgeville Democrat seeking to unseat Sheriff Robert Reed, says he believes the sheriff's department should not have police powers and should continue with serving court papers and executing sheriff's sales.

"That's the only thing on my agenda that's different" from Reed's, Craft said in an interview on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2002.

Reed has pressed for his department to have more law enforcement powers. Matters came to a head in October 2000, when state public safety director Brian Bushweller ordered Reed to remove the light bars from sheriff department vehicles.

When Reed refused to do so, the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the registrations of sheriff's department vehicles. Reed then removed the light bars from two of the vehicles so his department could continue to serve court papers, but he did not give up his fight.

Reed filed a lawsuit in January 2002 against Attorney General M. Jane Brady and public safety director James Ford, who replaced Bushweller. The suit alleged that Brady and Ford were preventing Reed from exercising the police powers of his office as granted by the state constitution.

Reed has generated significant support for his proposal to expand the sheriff's department into a police force in a county where many residents don't believe the state police offer adequate protection.

Craft, however, said he wants to take the department "back to basics, serving court documents and executing sheriff's sales, exactly the way the county council wants it done," he said.

Craft said he worked for the Ocean Pines Special Police Department for about seven years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that he'd like to get back into law enforcement. "I guess it runs in the blood a little bit," he said, adding that he also has a son in law enforcement.

Since 1975, Craft and his wife have run a deli and an ice cream store in Bridgeville. "We've run it pretty successfully," Craft said of the family business. They sold the deli last month, and Craft said he'd like to use the extra time serving the community.

"I'd like to do it," he said.

His decision to run against Reed, he said, has nothing to do with any dislike for Reed, and that he hopes the two can run a gentlemanly campaign.

"I've got nothing against him personally," he said, adding that his run for sheriff is more a matter of timing. "I figure if I don't do it now, I never will," Craft said.

Some Cape Henlopen Grades Shine Brighter

Students at several schools in the Cape Henlopen School District performed in the top of the state rankings in the spring 2002 Delaware Student Testing Program.

Top performers included: Milton Middle School 8th graders, who placed 10th out of 36 schools in Mathematics; Lewes Middle School 5th graders, who placed 8th out of 57 schools in Mathematics; and Shields Elementary 3rd graders, who placed 12th out of 87 schools in Mathematics.

Lewes Middle School 8th graders placed in the top 10 schools in all three subjects: 5th in Math, 4th in Reading and 9th in Writing out of 36 middle schools.

At Cape Henlopen High School, 10th graders placed 7th in Math, 6th in Reading and 12th in Writing out of 31 schools.

In general, Cape Henlopen students did well in all subjects. District-wide, third grade reading scores were the only ones in which less than half the students did not meet the state standards.

Here is a look at how the students did in each of the three subjects:

  • Third Grade -- Reading scores for third graders at all Cape Henlopen elementary schools remained either exactly the same or slightly better than the 2001 scores for that grade. At Shields Elementary, 87 percent of third graders met the Reading standard -- the highest percentage in the district. Percentages of students meeting the standards at other elementary schools were quite high, as well, with none falling below 77 percent.

  • Fifth Grade -- Fifth graders at Rehoboth, Milton and Lewes elementaries also performed well and stayed about where they were last year. Lewes Elementary topped the list, with 83 percent of fifth graders meeting or exceeding the state standards in Reading.

  • Eighth Grade -- Eighth graders at Lewes Middle School improved their scores by about 11 points this year, with 84 percent meeting state standards. At Milton Middle, eighth graders' Reading scores held relatively steady, with about 73 percent meeting the state standards.

  • Tenth Grade -- At Cape Henlopen High School, 72 percent of all 10th graders taking the test met state standards. That's slightly fewer than in 2001, when more than 76 percent met the state standards, and about the same as in 2000.
  • Third Grade -- Most Cape Henlopen students met state standards again this year, with a high of 83 percent at Shields Elementary meeting the standards, with the lowest percentage a still-respectable 72 percent meeting the standards at Brittingham Elemetary.

  • Fifth Grade -- More than eight in every 10 fifth graders met state standards this year. Two schools posted modest gains on their scores this year, but Milton fifth graders scored three points below their 2001 score.

  • Eighth Grade -- Both Milton and Lewes middle schools showed slight gains on their 2001 scores. At Lewes, 77 percent of 10th graders met or exceeded Math standards, while at Milton 61 percent met the standards.

  • Tenth Grade -- Fifty-five percent of 10th graders failed to meet state standards in the spring 2002 test. The average score was unchanged from 2001.
  • Third Grade -- Writing scores among third graders in the district were among the lowest of any grade on any subject. At Brittingham, 67 percent of third graders failed to meet the standards; the class ranked 66th out of 87 schools statewide. At Shields, half of all third graders failed to meet the standards, while at Rehoboth Elementary School, 53 percent failed to meet the standards.

  • Fifth Grade -- Scores at Lewes Middle School were well above the other Cape fifth graders' scores in Writing, with 76 percent meeting or exceeding state standards. At Rehoboth Elementary, half of all fifth graders failed to meet the standards, and at Milton, 52 percent failed to meet the standards.

  • Eighth Grade -- At Lewes Middle School, 83 percent of eighth graders met state standards, a five percent improvement from the previous year. At Milton, 78 percent met the state standards, a 10 percent improvement over 2001 scores.

  • Tenth Grade -- The percentage of 10th graders meeting state standards dropped by more than 10 percent as only 52.05 percent met the standards in 2002 compared to 65.67 percent in 2001.
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