Code of Ethics on the minds of county council candidates

At this week’s forum for County Council District 5 held in Millsboro, hopefuls Brad Connor and Bob Wheatley discussed whether there is a need for a new Code of Ethics in the county.

“It’s a basic tool. Everyone should serve under a Code of Ethics. Kent County has one. New Castle County has one. There has to be one put in. That needs to be addressed, and I will address that as well,” said Connor.

Wheatley said the County does not need to write its own Code of Ethics, as it already has one.

“Sussex County does have a Code of Ethics that every State, County and municipal employee or officeholder is required to follow,” he said. “It is administered by the Public Integrity Commission (PIC), where they have a board who has administrative procedures in place to address complaints.

“They do this for free, and it doesn’t cost us anything; it doesn’t cost us a penny to use the system that we’re already paying for, that we already have.”

Wheatley said he first learned about the PIC when he was first elected to the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, and was told by the County’s attorney to review the code.

Wheatley went on to recommend that the County simply pass a resolution to officially adopt the State’s Code of Ethics, and have its employees and government officials trained as to what is in the code.

“I think County Council should adopt a resolution that expresses its support for the State Code of Ethics. It should require every officeholder and employee to be educated in the State Code of Ethics. We can do this in our own training department or the Public Integrity Commission, if we request it, will come do it for us at no charge.

“It would provide excellent coverage and confidence that folks can have in our County employees and office holders. Let’s make use of what we already have.”

Incumbent District 5 County Councilman Vance Phillips asked Wheatley if he would mind if the County took his suggestion and adopted the Code prior to the election.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Phillips.

“Mr. Phillips, put it on the agenda next week — let’s get it done,” responded Wheatley.