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March 7, 1997     Cape Gazette
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March 7, 1997
 

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State chairman chaUenges Sussex to become first Republican county By Michael Short Delaware Republican Chairman Basil Battaglia issued a challenge to the Republican Women's Beach Club on Monday, March 3. When Lucien Ferguson asked what local Republican clubs can do to get more involved, Battaglia noted that Sussex is within reach of becoming the first Delaware county with a Republican majori- ty. "I like the idea of giving you a challenge and seeing if you can turn this into a Republican coun- ty," Battglid gaid: "That would- be a great challenge." He noted that they are only 1,300 registered voters shy of hav- ing that majority. Gaining that number, in Battaglia's words, is "doable". Battaglia took questions for about 45 minutes from a small, but enthusiastic audience at All Saints Episcopal Church in Re- hoboth Beach. Topics ranged from abortion to whether Delaware needs new state leadership. Battaglia discussed ways to pump new blood into lo- cal politics and tried to predict '- ;,,ht challenge for the White H0uge m iota y,,,. Battaglia said the Republicans- had done well in 1996, for the most part. The exception was at the county level where they suf- fered their biggest losses (Sussex County Council lost a Republican seat and Democrats now have a 4- 1 advantage in that arena). He predicted that Delaware fa- vorite Steve Forbes could well be a presidential contender again in four years. Dan Quayle and last year's vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp could also be con- tenders. He echoed Democratic laments of the 1980s when he said that nothing sticks to President Clinton "Then hit them, hit them, hit (a reference to Ronaid Reagan be- them," he said. ing termed the so-called teflon "And stay united," Battaglia president by Democrats). Asked if said. he thought Clinton was a teflon "I agree," Stevenson said. president, Battaglia said "triple- "You hit the nail on the head," coated." Battaglia added. Battaglia Asked directly by Joyce Stecher said that Re- to respond to the idea of whether publicans Republicans need new state lead- probably ership, Battaglia said he thought need to do most Republicans were happy better on the with the state leadership. He re- issue of edu- peated that in most races last year, -cation to help .... Republicans did well. ....... woo female Crystal agreed. "We did not not voters and he conceded that BATTAGLIA a more re- laxed Bob Dole might have done better at the polling place. But much of the evening was spent discussing ways to bring passion and fire back to grass roots poli- ticking. It's an often heard com- plaint from both major parties that it's hard to find new blood and po- litical passion, especially between election years. Several questions dealt with the issue of invigorat- ing committee-level politics and exciting people about the Republi- nta t'tl Daverttew-,,- ..... i. lican party must stand for some- thing and that the Republicans are not the party of the rich. There must be a clear line between Re- publicans and Democrats, a line that is often blurred in Delaware, according to Stevenson, the cam- paign manager last year for "Hap" Crystal. "There must be a clear separation between Republicans and Democrats," he said. Stevenson said Republicans need to have a clear, short agenda and they need to stick to it. He suggested perhaps three items in- stead of a laundry list of issues. win because of the state commit- tee," he said. Another direct question con- cerned the issue of abortion and whether it costs Republicans fe- male voters. Battaglia said that Bob Dole is pro-choice and said that the Republican party is large enough to accommodate all views on the always touchy issue. "I think we have always maintained that the Republican Party is a big tent party [with room for every- one]," he said. Crystal suggested that the Republicans hold a rally similar to the Democratic Jam- bore, every summer at Cape Hen- la0ntl, l!.e idea was well received rallies in all three counties. Battaglia praised Crystal, who lost to incumbent John Schroeder (D-Lewes) in the 37th District race last November, and said he hoped Crystal would stay a part of the political picture. Crystal nod- ded, but stopped short of making any definite commitments. Battaglia was upbeat about 1998 with Congressman Mike Castle leading the Republican ticket in Delaware. "I predict we will have excellent candidates in 1998." Sussex ups commercially zoned By Michael Short Sussex County Council has de- cided to change the way it collects taxes on some farmland. County Council on Tuesday, Feb. 25 decided that farmland which is zoned commercial will be assessed for taxes as commer- cial land. For years, farmland which is in commercially zoned areas has been assessed at a fraction of its commercial value. It's been as- sessed as farmland, meaning the tax rate is far, far lower. Farmland is considered less valuable than commercial land and farmland is generally assessed at a lower rate. But members of County Council argued that the commercial land, even if all it grows are corn and tomatoes, should not be taxed as farmland. In at least some cases, farmers did not request the zoning. County Council heard examples of land along Route 113 that were blanket-zoned commercial, just as the strip along Route 1 in the Cape region was zoned commercial decades ago. County Administrator Bob Stickels said he is uncertain how much land is affected or how much extra tax money will be col- lected by Sussex County. How much of a difference in tax rates is there? Stickels said six properties along Route 113 pay $404.16 in taxes. If they were taxed as commer- cial land, the properties would pay annual taxes of more than $7,930, he said. "It's a step in the fight direc- tion," Stickels said of the change. But farmers are not necessarily stuck with paying higher taxes. They can request to have their land downzoned to agricultural residential at no charge. That will allow them to continue to pay lower tax rates, but the non-com- mercial land is considered less valuable. Should they decide to develop . . y- CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, March 7 - March 13, 1997 - 15 8 s 8,'; 8 Garden Gourmet Highway One, Rehoboth ,, ,, ( Is well soent. It b,,vo . Open Thursday - Mondayday/N... ...... j. __., ,__.,'_ "r" 5 p.m. yl  -yOu I,,u, etHu vtt[. 6 227-4747 / N We guarantee 0 On  xxoo / On S Easter  / Easter % 6 we have a spea! menu. we are always --" " ", ,,,  u,,u ,- --t,n'r"n.."'er, ...................... booked.in . - am 1/2 price, advance. Kids under 6 are free. Call now for S S S S S S choicetimes. farmland taxes the land at a later time, they will have to request a rezoning, which may or may not be approved. Stickels said he will be "sur- prised" if many people take ad- vantage of the opportunity to downzone. The Department of Agriculture has decided not to oppose the change. The change prompted Til Purnell to ask if other people who were in zoning classes they did not want could downzone land, Specifically, she asked about land around the inland bays which could possibly be placed in devel- opment districts in a county land use plan. She has argued passionately against such a large development district, saying it will hinder the efforts to protect the area. Stickels said that a development district is not the same as a zon- ing. "We didn't ask for it," Purnell said. But the argument received no support from the county. DRAWING FOR DOLLARS SWEEPSTAKES... WIN THOUSANDS Hurry in to get: your share! 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