Sussex County Council started its Dec. 15 meeting honoring Councilmen Irwin “I.G.” Burton of Lewes and Sam Wilson of Georgetown at their last meeting. At the presentation are (l-r) County Administrator Todd Lawson, Burton, Council President Mike Vincent, Wilson, Councilman Doug Hudson and Finance Director Gina Jennings. Councilman John Rieley was participating in the meeting remotely from home. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS
Burton, Wilson attend their last Sussex council meeting…
Dec. 15 was the final meeting for Sussex County Councilmen Irwin “I.G.” Burton of Lewes, District 3, and Sam Wilson of Georgetown, District 2. Wilson served for 12 years and is retiring, while Burton served for four years, losing his bid for re-election this year. Burton also served on Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission for 11 years.
Although COVID-19 restrictions did not permit a traditional reception, the councilmen were presented with plaques for their service, with several officials and members of the public thanking them for their civic contributions.
At his last meeting, Wilson spoke about a variety of topics, from the importance of farming, to Dr. Jill Biden, to birthing calves. “I’m big time for farmers, and I stood up for what I believed in,” he said.
Wilson said he always supported Burton as a member of planning and zoning commission. “Even so, we’ve had our differences on the issues,” he said.
Burton had lots of thanks to spread around. “Being on county council is not a job you are away from home a lot. But at home thinking about council, you are mentally away from home. I want to thank my wife for putting up with it. I appreciate her support,” he said.
He also had strong accolades for county staff. He said County Administrator Todd Lawson and Finance Director Gina Jennings have put together a strong management team. “The community doesn’t know how protective you are of their money. The taxpayers ought to be thankful to you for having that concern,” he said.
Former Councilman George Cole, who retired in 2018 after serving 32 years, said Wilson was like a father to him and Burton was like a son.
His debates with Wilson over the years are legendary. “Sam, there will never be another like you on county council,” he said.
He complimented Burton for his preparation for meetings in what he called noodling. “I.G. was prepared on every issue. At times, Sam and I were just winging it,” Cole said.
Cole said he has many fond memories of Wilson on road trips to meetings and conferences. “Sam is very frugal with the county’s money,” he said, adding Wilson rarely provided reimbursements for meals. “Did the man ever eat? He did, however, go to every free meal there was, and he’d leave with his pockets full to take food back to the room to his wife.”
Former Councilman Rob Arlett, who served from 2014-18, said the county is better off because of their actions.
Lawson thanked Wilson as one of the councilmen who hired him nine years ago. “You took a chance on someone who wanted to come back to Sussex County,” Lawson said.
He said Wilson’s legacy includes what is known by county attorneys and staff as the Wilson Rule, which promotes anything that lessens governmental regulations. “You are a man of convictions who sticks to his guns,” Lawson said.
To Burton, he said, “You are a big thinker and big doer. All of the issues you fought for always had the best interest of the county at heart. That’s your legacy.”
Lawson said Burton has taught them a new text language, including CWTP, which is call when time permits.
Council President Mike Vincent was elected to council 12 years ago, the same year Wilson was elected. “You love the farm community and you have represented them well over the years,” Vincent said to Wilson.
He has served with Burton for four years. “In all sincerity, I think you came on county council for one reason – to make Sussex County a better place, and you have done that,” Vincent said.
Mark Schaeffer, District 3, and Cindy Green, District 2, will be sworn in as new council members on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.