Election 2020: 20th Representative District

Editor’s note: Rep. Smyk is unopposed.

Name: Steve Smyk

Party: Republican

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Judy; children Leah, Sydney and Gabriel

Residence: Milton

Occupation: Full-time legislator, retired Delaware State Police trooper

Why are you running for this seat?

SS: I am the eight-year incumbent representing the 20th Representative District. I would like to continue to put my experience to work for the people of this community.

What do you see as the major issues for this district?

SS: Roads and other infrastructure need to supported with the continuing development in our area, including the ongoing effort to redesign the Five Points intersection. To support open space and farmland preservation to become a priority to the next governor’s budget.

Steve Smyk

What is the biggest problem facing the state, and how would you solve it?

SS: There is a need for a more diverse economy. The state has struggled to support the creation of new, quality jobs. We are learning to increase the responsibility of large developers to invest in surrounding infrastructure impacts, yet some state agencies continue to discourage other business growth by “moving the goalposts” during the site review process and by adding burdensome and costly mandates that have derailed prospective small enterprises.

State agencies exist to serve the public. They should be given the resources and staffing necessary to meet the demand of the public they exist to serve at every level.

What would you like to see Delaware do differently regarding coronavirus?

SS: I think too much power is concentrated in the hands of a single branch of government. The Executive Branch currently has unchecked authority to declare a state of emergency and to renew at its own discretion. We have been in a state of emergency since mid-March. While the declaration is active, the governor can issue orders that carry the weight of law — without allowing our citizen’s input or General Assembly approval. I support the enactment of HB330, which would require the General Assembly to approve any state of emergency declaration renewal after the initial 30-day period.

How should our health care system change in response to coronavirus?

SS: Previous legislative actions taken to expand access to telemedicine and increase the number of qualified medical professionals allowed to practice in Delaware should be examined for permanent adoption. DEMA already communicates and cooperates with much of the medical societies in Delaware. However many small private medical practices had difficulties sharing their observations to better serve Delaware. Communications have improved, but we must allow such small practices to serve without the danger of absorption by large hospitals.

What do you believe schools should do to educate students while keeping people safe from COVID-19?

SS: What we now know about COVID-19 is that healthy minors are not at significant risk to suffer life-threatening complications from the virus. For reasons not fully understood, but which the Division of Public health has confirmed, children up to 10 years old are especially well-positioned against experiencing adverse effects of the virus.

COVID-19 poses the highest risk to those over the age of 50 that are also suffering from one or more serious underlying health issues. Given these facts, I would have liked to have seen most elementary school students return to the classroom, with online options available for teachers and students with underlying health issues or who had other concerns.

Having said this, we must respect the decisions of our local school officials to handle this challenging situation in the manners that they believe is the most prudent for their districts.

What should the state do to help both businesses and workers right now?

SS: We are seven months into the governor’s imposed COVID-19 restrictions and our summer season at the beach is over. With this damage done, we must move from this point. Keeping current government assistance programs running as long as we have funding would be helpful. However only economic strength will sustain government services.

To prevent a greater loss of our standard of living, we must allow an opportunity for businesses to offer safe operations to resume our local economy and restore consumer confidence. Internet purchases do little to support our neighbors and this state. Any success of state and federal health officials making plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, when approved, to offer inoculation will significantly increase confidence of our citizens to shop local as quickly as possible.

What do you think of the current level of state spending?

SS: I think state spending has been better controlled since a “lock box” protection of DelDOT’s budget and the Carney/Simpler effort for “budget smoothing,” but I still believe we need to adopt spending controls and budget-smoothing language into the state constitution for future governors and legislatures to be bound by the same fiscally prudent protocols that we have practiced.

Would you support gun control measures?

SS: I have championed and supported new laws to keep guns out of the hands of those who have posed a threat to themselves and others. I have opposed proposals that weaken public safety, and which violate our state constitution’s guarantee to Delawareans to possess and use firearms for defense, recreation, and hunting.

The attorney general’s office regularly drops violent gun crimes from the lists of charges during prosecution, which perpetuate gun crimes. This practice propelled Wilmington as one of the most dangerous in the nation and its good citizens have suffered. All who use a firearm to victimize another should forfeit those rights as part of sentencing.

What changes are needed to policing and the criminal justice system?

SS: There are many parts of a criminal justice system, most of which is being managed below the minimum staffing levels for successful operations for all involved which expands the already innate margins for error. As a state police trooper who served a 24-year career, I’ve seen this firsthand. Regardless of the regular success from dedicated employees, any single error in criminal justice critically impacts those directly involved. This is one of the reasons I sit on all public safety-related committees in the House of Representatives.

My biggest concerns are not flaws with the current system, but rather poorly considered measures that could place Delaware families at increased risk or not hold offenders fully responsible for their crimes and offering sufficient reentry programs. Every member of society is valuable. Without law, our liberties and freedoms will belong to the aggressor.

What do you make of the state of race relations in the U.S, and particularly Delaware?

SS: There has been great strides in race relations since the implementation of special community policing. This is being erased by political climate. We must note that other parts of the U.S .are not all the same — much like we in Delaware are so very different in each county, city, and town. Race relations mirror the community where it originates.

Racism and prejudice are but a few of the education needs that we must be mindful of to promote tolerance and respect towards each other in every capacity. Our police officers come from our communities, adopting attributes and ills alike.

Education is an ongoing challenge. Delaware police already has one of the most strictly adhered continuing education programs in the nation. We must support a level of police staffing that allows them to gain even higher levels of training and professional service without sacrificing response to public need.

I will continue supporting efforts striving to eliminate bias from government operations, as well as holding accountable those who knowingly engage in bigotry in any and all directions at even the highest levels of government.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

SS: I hope that when people go to the polls, they objectively weigh their choices and vote for candidates based on their individual qualifications and positions — not resentment harbored against a particular political party or ill feelings created by unrelated races.

Use unrestricted search engines instead of filtered Google and Bing. Ask your elected officials for dialogue instead of surrendering to the opinions of others. Don’t just vote, get involved with politics and be active in the community.