NCCo Council Pres. hopefuls debate at WDEL

By Frank Gerace 11:58pm, November 1, 2012 - Updated 9:53am, November 2, 2012
The candidates to replace Tom Kovach as New Castle County Council president disagree somewhat over how to cut the size of County government.

In a WDEL debate Thursday night, Republican Mike Protack said if elected, he'll order a top-to-bottom review, cutting unnecessary departments and spending.

"We're at our debt ceiling--we're borrowing more than 20 percent right now at the county level, and there's a lot of unmet needs when you look at that, so county government at every level has to be scrutinized for how effective it is, and we can also start by reducing County Council in size."

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Democrat Christopher Bullock said since he's not in office yet, he's not sure what cuts he'd make, but one he wouldn't make is to Council's membership.

"People need representation--they need a vote to represent them who are available, so I will not raise taxes. I will, if elected and when elected, look at where we are. I don't want to be presumptuous or premature."

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Both men say being president of County Council wouldn't conflict with their "day jobs."

Protack says his Marine pilot training and current airline pilot's job make him qualified to lead, and as an hourly employee, his work schedule's flexible.

"I only work if I have to, so I could work none at all--zero--or manage it, and right now it's a 12-day month, and that's a full month, and I can reduce that, and in the campaign mode, it's been a lot less"

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Bullock says he's served as a state commissioner in Illinois and Delaware, and as pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in New Castle, he can delegate responsibility.

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"I am the senior pastor, but I have 28 associate ministers on my team, and a full-time staff who works 9 to 5, and volunteer staff in the evening."

Protack says one major problem with the County's Unified Development Code, or UDC, is its size.

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"If I dropped this book on the head of a small child, I'd probably kill the kid--it's 327 pages, 108 amendments. I think it's beyond tinkering with, or tampering with in small ways. I think it needs to be re-written in totality. Make it 50 pages or less, have a defined timetable for County action, for citizen input, and for action and costs."

Bullock says re-working the document should involve a three-pronged approach.

"More clarity--it needs definition and precise interpretation. We need this document to do business, particularly around land use and redevelopment."

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The winner of Tuesday's election will replace Kovach, who's running on the GOP ticket for Congress against Democratic incumbent John Carney.

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