In the 35th District: Wilson and Wolfe provide answers

Candidate surveys

In the leadup to Nov. 8’s election, the Delaware State News will be running questionnaires from various candidates. If you’ve missed any, visit https://delawarestatenews.net/ and click on the “vote 2016” tab.

35th Representative District (Bridgeville)

Dave Wilson, Republican

Office seeking: State representative

Age: 66

Occupation: Owner/Operator of Wilson’s Auction, horse breeder

Family: Wife, Carolyn

vote-logo-2016Elective experience: Sussex County register in chancery (1992-2000), Sussex County register of wills (2006-08), State representative from the 35th District (2008-present)

Gary M. Wolfe, Democrat

Office seeking: 35th Representative House District

Age: 53

Occupation: Operations manager

Family: Jacqueline (wife), sons Gary II, Christopher and Scott

Elective experience: 10 years on Milford Board of Education, prior candidate for Sussex County Council and state Senate

1. What would be your top priority in this office?

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Wilson: Serving the needs of my constituents is always my top priority. Meeting with individual citizens and town officials to address concerns they are having with state government — and taking action to resolve those issues — is the largest demand on my time as a public servant. It is also the most important service I perform.

Wolfe: Legislation that addresses the state’s failing infrastructure, particularly in Sussex County, where high-speed internet, reliable cellular communications and lack of transportation options prevents businesses from moving. Also, I back legislation ensuring businesses provide equal pay for all, and a livable wage that keeps citizens from requiring state assistance. Finally, we should address the financial health of the state rather than just pushing the issue down the road for the next generations.

2. If you could change one state policy or law, what would it be?

Wilson: In 2004, we enacted a law to set aside the first $10 million from the state’s share of the real estate transfer tax to fund farmland preservation. During the last six years, the governor and state legislative budget writers have ignored that law and raided the funding. I have proposed, and will continue to support, making this funding mechanism a constitutional amendment. This would guarantee a stable, predictable source of funding for this vital program and prevent the money from ever being misappropriated.

Gary M. Wolfe

Gary M. Wolfe

Wolfe: The current equalization formulas and calculations that are flawed result in funding short falls for many school districts and ultimately, the students who need it the most. This would also mean that the state would have to undertake the reassessments that have not been updated in over 10 years.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Wilson: No. Delaware just raised the minimum wage.

Wolfe: Yes, a livable wage means the state does not have to support its citizens while businesses are supported by the low tax rates of Delaware.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Wilson: Allow economic development officials to create right-to-work zones in specific areas as one of the tools they can use to entice employers to come to Delaware. More than half of the states in the U.S. have a statewide right-to-work law. Many companies in those states are reluctant to move to a state without such a law. This mechanism would allow Delaware to lure companies from those states, without impacting any other organization or part of our state.

Wolfe: Reinvest in the state’s infrastructure, including roads, data transmission, and businesses that pay livable wages.

5. Would you vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty?

Wilson: Yes.

Wolfe: The death penalty has done little if anything to deter criminals from committing crimes that would warrant the death penalty being used, so does having it as a sentence remain a viable option? The bigger question is why do we continue to fill our correctional facilities and then complain about how much it costs the state to house and care for these individual? One other fact not discussed is the costs to execute only 16 inmates since the penalty was re-instated in Delaware with a population of around 6,000 inmates in the state.

6. Should the state make changes to its laws on marijuana?

Wilson: No.

Wolfe: The state needs to look closely at this issue, as it may be a revenue source that could help the state balance its budgets.

7. Should the state lower the tax rates on the casinos, do nothing, or take some other step to provide relief?

Wilson: I support reducing the tax burden on the state’s three casinos. This is NOT aid. The state would NOT be giving any money to the casinos, it would just not be taking as much from them. The casinos employ thousands of people statewide and we need to ensure these jobs remain secure, while the casinos continue to pay their fair share of taxes.

Wolfe: No, the casinos are a business entity that has grown beyond its customer base and should make the adjustments needed if it is to survive.

8. What changes would you make to the Department of Education?

Wilson: I would like to streamline staffing at the DOE and give more autonomy to the local districts.

Wolfe: The department is top-heavy with administration and continues to take funding from where it is needed most in the classrooms. Also needs to work more with local districts to keep control at the local level for decisions.

9. Does the state spend too much, too little or the right amount?

Wilson: For the first time in Delaware history, our most recent state operating budget topped $4 billion dollars. I think we need to do everything we can to make state government more efficient.

Wolfe: The state’s spending is high in some areas, but is actually too little in other areas. The spending needs to be balanced with the revenue stream and programs need to be audited to ensure money is going where it best serves those needing it.

10. What should be done, if anything, to increase revenue for the state or cut spending?

Wilson: Question everything and have the political will and courage to act when waste or ineffective programs and spending is found. This will require bipartisan cooperation that, so far, has been lacking on this issue.

Wolfe: The state needs to understand that neither tax cuts nor continuing to increase taxes on the poorest citizens is going to solve the budget issue alone. One of the least favorite issues that needs to be addressed is the reassessments of the property taxes, particularly in Kent and Sussex counties.

11. Do changes need to be made in the state’s employee health care structure?

Wilson: These costs continue to grow and we need to curtail the rate of that growth. Work in this area is ongoing. I look forward to hearing what proposals the experts will suggest in the next General Assembly session. No doubt, lawmakers will face some of the same difficult choices that have already confronted many of our colleagues around the nation.

Wolfe: Like the private sector, the state does need to review its insurance plans on an annual basis and ensure its employees have quality coverage at the best price and value for the state.

12. What should be done to impact the state’s heroin crisis?

Wilson: Encourage doctors to prescribe opioid pain killers only when absolutely necessary. Many people using heroin, which is also an opioid drug, get their start by getting hooked on legally prescribed pain killers like Oxycodone. When they can no longer obtain those legally, they turn to cheaper and more available heroin.

Wolfe: Currently our schools are facing an increase in the use of this drug by teens who find it a cheap escape from the stresses currently placed on our students due to the demands to succeed. We need to start with educating on the dangers again and work with those addicted to make sure they get the help they are asking for instead of simply looking them up.

13. How can the state best continue to fund road and bridge projects?

Wilson: Currently, planned road and bridge projects are fully funded. In fact, DelDOT officials have said our state’s capacity to conduct this work is nearly maxed out. In the future, we can begin transitioning the approximately $230 million being taken out of the Transportation Trust Fund annually to pay for the operational expenses of DelDOT and public transit. Moving this back to the General Fund, where is once was and belongs, would solve our long-term transportation project funding challenges.

Wolfe: We have growth throughout the state and yet we are not requiring those who look to gain from that growth to pay their share of the infrastructure improvements needed to support the added growth.

14. Anything else?

Wilson: No.

Wolfe: No.

 

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