Senator objects to monument honoring women in war

DOVER — One probably would not expect a monument honoring women who served in war to be controversial, but a proposal to create such a tribute drew an objection from the Senate minority leader earlier this month.

The suggestion for a slab focused solely on Delaware women who joined the military and contributed to past war efforts was suggested by a former Marine, and a design is in the works.

The monument would be located on the northwest side of Legislative Hall, across from the Delaware Public Archives, and would resemble the World War I monument unveiled in November.

“The reason for a separate Delaware women’s military monument is that women have special challenges serving our country in the military,” Dick Carter, chairman of the Delaware Heritage Commission, told lawmakers earlier this month.

“In fact, there have been cases, particularly in earlier years in World War I and World War II, where women had to fight for the privilege of serving our country, either in the military or sometimes they weren’t even allowed to join the military so they did it through civilian organizations, and so the feeling is widespread among women that have served in the military that there’s sort of a special status because of that fact.”

Most of the members of Legislative Council, the committee composed of the leaders of all four caucuses who have final say over modifications to the grounds of the state capitol, embraced the idea — but one lawmaker questioned why women were being singled out.

Gary Simpson

“African-Americans had the same struggle being accepted into the army and our service branches in the early part of the century as well, and maybe we need to do a monument for them. I think that we’re getting too differentiated here,” Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, said.

“Obviously men had struggles and gave up a lot when they fought those other wars, Vietnam, (World Wars) I and II. I just, I hate to see one segment of society separated out. I can’t imagine if we were to suggest a monument to the men who fought in wars, the outcry that we would hear. And I know that I’m not being politically correct here, but I just hate to see us go in this direction.”

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, explained women were unable to serve in the same capacity as men for most of the United States’ existence and even today may have to deal with sexual harassment or worse when they join the armed forces. Sen. Simpson responded that men have made many of the same sacrifices, such as leaving their families and jobs to serve their country.

Senate Majority Whip Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, agreed with Rep. Longhurst.

“For a female to sacrifice and say that she’s going to serve the United States first before her family after she’s given birth, certainly shows that there’s a different level of recognition that they deserve,” said Sen. Poore, who helped obtain funding for the project.

“Giving birth does not make you any more of a parent than me as a father of that child,” Sen. Simpson shot back.

With both sides at an impasse and the collective mood of the room darkening slightly, Legislative Council then voted on the monument, approving it 9-1. Sen. Simpson was the lone dissenter.

The stone slab is being created by a Milford company and will feature about a half-dozen images of Delaware women on each side. The final design is set to be approved within three months, and the monument will be dedicated just before Veterans Day.

A brick path will surround the monument, with the names of women who died in service inscribed on the bricks.

An accompanying book honoring specific women, such as Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, the first adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, will be distributed at the ceremony.

Labor Secretary and campaign finance

The Senate confirmed Cerron Cade to be the new secretary of labor Wednesday. Twenty of the chamber’s 21 members voted in favor, with Sen. Anthony Delcollo, R-Marshallton, abstaining.

Mr. Cade has served as director of the Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism since July. Prior to that, he was first deputy director and then acting director of the now dissolved Delaware Economic Development Office.

Mr. Cade was nominated by Gov. John Carney, whose campaign he ran in 2016.

“Cerron has the knowledge and experience necessary to take on this important role, and I want to thank members of the Delaware Senate for their vote of confidence in confirming his nomination,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “The Department of Labor’s work connecting Delawareans with job training and workforce development programs has never been more important. Cerron understands the needs of Delaware businesses from his time at the Delaware’s Small Business Division and, before that, at the Delaware Economic Development Office. Cerron has a proven ability to lead, and I’m confident that his experience will serve Delaware taxpayers and workers well.”

Current Secretary of Labor Patrice Gilliam-Johnson announced earlier this month she is taking a job at Delaware State University. She leaves office Feb. 2.

2017 campaign finance reports for Delaware candidates were due Monday, a reminder that while the elections are still more than half a year away, they are slowly creeping closer.

In terms of dollars, the big winners are two Republicans: Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle and Treasurer Ken Simpler.

Sen. Lavelle, who represents the 4th Senatorial District, reported having $216,300 on hand, while Mr. Simpler had $177,900 available. Mr. Simpler currently has no opponent. Sen. Lavelle, one of the Democratic Party’s top targets, is being opposed by Laura Sturgeon.

Ms. Sturgeon, a Democrat, reported a year-ending sum of $41,800.

In 2012, then Rep. Lavelle and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Michael Katz, spent a combined $537,000, an amount veteran political reporter Celia Cohen said was at the time a record for a Delaware General Assembly race.

Elsewhere, Rep. Trey Paradee, a Democrat from the 29th Representative District seeking the 17th Senatorial District seat, had $25,700. Fellow 17th District candidates Justin King and Donyale Hall, both Republicans, had $51,100 and negative $300, respectively.

State Auditor Tom Wagner, one of two Republicans in statewide office, had $3,800 available. He has not said whether he plans to run for re-election.

Democrat Tim Mullaney, a hopeful for attorney general, reported having $200 at the end of the year. Kathy Jennings and LaKresha Roberts, Democrats running for attorney general, announced their candidacies after the filing period ended. Tom Neuberger, a Republican, has not yet formed a campaign committee.

Sen. Robert Marshall, facing a primary from two Democrats in the 3rd Senatorial District, trailed both his opponents in available cash. Sen. Marshall had $1,300, while Jordan Hines had $3,400 and Tizzy Lockman led the way with $26,800.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a Democrat from the 14th Representative District, and House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Democrat holding the 15th Representative District seat, both had a little more than $100,000.

The next campaign finance reporting period ends Aug. 7, one month before the primary.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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