Both candidates running for county council president tout extensive leadership backgrounds, but neither have yet to hold office.

New Castle County's leadership will be overhauled following the Nov. 6 election.

Both candidates running for county council president tout extensive leadership backgrounds, but neither have yet to hold office.

Rev. Christopher Bullock, a Democrat and minister from Wilmington, said at an Oct. 18 candidate forum hosted by The Middletown Transcript that he has the pulse of the community and that he is a problem solver.

Mike Protack, an airline captain who lives near the Pennsylvania border, said that the county has set low standards for itself and that he wants to change that.

The Unified Development Code

Like the rest of the country, New Castle County has been facing economic stresses, including half finished developments, which tend to put homeowners on edge.

Developers will begin to build a community, but either stop half way through the process or neglect its upkeep.

Bullock said that the county should be holding these developers accountable.

"They need to finish these projects or be stricken," he said. "We need to make sure we have the infrastructure, traffic studies done and civic associations on board."

Bullock and Protack both agreed that the county's Unified Development Code (UDC) needs to be looked at by officials and clarified and cleaned up.

The 327 page manual is described by Protack has being "amazingly non-specific."

"Its enforcement is almost zero," he said. "It's supposed to control development and channel it into the right areas."

Bullock said that to fix the UDC, the county needs the right leadership.

Protack made an extreme example Monday, saying that the UDC has lost all of its relevance and that even "Sir Isaac Newton couldn't figure it out."

He told the 15 members of the audience that he would rewrite the UDC to be 50 pages.

One of the most well known examples of neglecting the UDC in the past year was Barley Mill Plaza, a project proposed to the county by developer Keith Stoltz.

"Barley Mill was a teachable moment," Bullock said. "It was done all wrong, but can be done right with leadership."

One of the biggest issues with the Barley Mill project was that a traffic impact study was not performed.

What Bullock said he would have done differently is bring all of the stakeholders in the project together.

Protack used the Barley Mill example to reiterate his stance on making the UDC simpler.

"We have 118 people working in land use," he said. "If the UDC was working, we wouldn't need 118 people."

Population growth

Over the past decade, the Middletown area's population has tripled.

With more people, comes the need for more schools and more businesses to accommodate them.

"I'm an advocate of smart and responsible growth," Bullock said. "I support growth, but it needs to respect the land."

In southern New Castle County, preserving farmland is important to many residents. At the same time though, the area's population is growing, creating a need for more infrastructure.

Protack said that when he is flying his airplane over the area, he sees clusters.

"There was no planning," he said. "With a UDC that doesn't work, you pay the price. He need a careful analysis and something enforced."

"What drives your candidacy?"

During the Oct. 18 candidate forum, moderator Jesse Chadderdon, executive editor of The Middletown Transcript and Gatehouse Media Delaware, asked the candidates what the key issue that drives their candidacy is.

Both gave different answers.

Protack said that his driver is the conduct of county council over the past few years.

"New Castle County is at the lowest of low with ethics complaints," he said. "We need ethics and honesty or we will go no where fast."

Bullock, who won the democratic primary election against Renee Taschner, said that his driver is that he wants to bring people together.

"It's an opportunity to bring people together and do something special with the county," Bullock said. "We should look for opportunities to work together and make New Castle County a place to be proud of."