There's probably some truth to the belief that eastern Sussex County residents are clamoring for better representation on County Council now because they didn't like the outcome of November's election. One of their favorites lost by only three votes to a veteran incumbent. But that's not a reason to dismiss their complaints as sour grapes.
Those in a new activist group insist that the majority of Sussex countians - 60 percent - live on the eastern side of U.S. 113, yet are essentially represented by only one councilman who lives on the coast. Eastern Sussex residents have complained for years that council incumbents who live away from the beaches ignore concerns about overdevelopment, sprawl and traffic congestion.
The majority of the five-member council support virtually every proposed new development by the beaches. Coastal residents want more political clout.
Sussex, especially the coastal area, is among the fastest-growing counties in the country. Census figures show a nearly 40 percent growth in the last decade, and 7 percent in 2003 alone. Populations in each of the three council districts that touch the beach areas have no doubt exceeded 5 percent statistical deviation from the ideal 31,328 residents established by the 2000 census.
Critics of the current district configuration don't want to wait until 2010 for boundaries to be redrawn. We don't think they should.
This would be a good time for the General Assembly to create two at-large council seats for Sussex, to give Eastern residents a shot at adding council seats in future elections. And the oddball 5th councilmanic district, which stretches 35 miles from Laurel to Fenwick Island, should revert back to its original Western Sussex configuration.
The thousands of new residents pouring into eastern Sussex to retire or raise families deserve local representation."