Guest Column: Austin was shining light in water-quality fight


My name is Meghan Kelly, Esquire. I am the Democrat candidate for the House of Representatives in the 38th District’s Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, election.

My platform includes, but is not limited to, working toward:

• preserving and protecting our environment;

• slowing down the building boom of new homes;

• improving infrastructure to support our communities;

• improving health care; and

• cleaning drinking water.

Last week, I mentioned I would submit a second letter regarding health care. Instead, I am holding off to write about a more important matter this week: A good man has died. It is with great sadness I inform you John Austin passed away on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

On my quest for clean drinking water in Delaware, I met John Austin — a brilliant chemist who worked at the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) for 33 years, before retiring in the Rehoboth area. I am so grateful he touched my life and the lives of all of Sussex County with his pursuit to care for people in the face of greed. He courageously sought to help clean our drinking water.

John Austin is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. He talked with me at great length in person, on the phone and via email as I tried to digest his deep understanding of the issues. I am grateful for his love for those beyond his own.

It made me smile to hear him talk about the apple of his eye, his beautiful wife, Marti Austin, who could do kickboxing. He adored her more than any other person on the planet.

The last I spoke with him, he was doing the correct thing, like he always courageously seemed to do during the short time I knew him. He visited a sick relative in another state.

John Austin is a good man. I pray he is feeling a fuller type of love with God. I pray God comforts his beautiful wife with his love and gives her faith to continue being a bright light in the darkness, carrying the flame they once carried together, until one day she sees him again and lights up his eyes once more with the mere mention of her name.

I am so sorry for our loss. My prayers, love and gratitude.

John Austin is a light in the darkness, shining bright on evils, to drive the darkness out into the light, to become the light. He brought my attention to potential abuses of industries and waste disposal sites. It is time for all of us to shine a light on this problem, to clean it up, to prevent our neighbors from continuing to die of cancer.

Now is the time to shed light on the water problem. We can look for ways to alleviate it. Legislators, stop hiding in the dark. We see you. We see our drinking water is bad. There is no hiding that.

Thank you, John Austin, for lighting a spark in my heart that has given me hope that we can do something about cleaning our drinking water. You have made a difference in all of our lives. We are forever grateful.

Any improvements relating to cleaning water, protecting our wetlands, preserving our beaches and slowing down home building growth in Delaware should be attributed to John Austin. He gave us the courage to act. Thank you, John Austin. We are honored that you shared part of your life with us. We love you.

By Meghan Kelly, Candidate
Delaware House of Representatives, 38th District