Paradee to seek Dover-area’s state Senate seat

Rep. Trey Paradee

Rep. Trey Paradee

DOVER — Rep. W. Charles “Trey” Paradee said Friday he’s running for the 17th Senatorial District seat currently held by Sen. Brian Bushweller, who is retiring next year.

Rep. Paradee made his announcement on Facebook shortly after officially filing on the first possible day to do so.

Rep. Paradee has represented the 29th District since 2012, while Sen. Bushweller was first elected in 2008. Both are Democrats.

The 29th District Representative covers Cheswold, southern Smyrna and the western outskirts of Dover. The 17th Senatorial District encompasses most of the state’s capital city.

“The Dover area has been my home since I was born at Kent General Hospital in 1969. I have raised a family here, and I have started a business here,” Rep. Paradee said in a statement.

“I believe that my life experiences, educational background, and record of serving the community make me uniquely qualified to face the challenges of representing the 17th Senate District, and I have proven over the past five years in the Delaware House of Representatives that I am an energetic worker who listens to his constituents and always tries to do what is best for the community.”

In an interview, he said he opted to seek the Senate seat because “it’s clearly the opportunity to have more of an influence.”

The main issue for the area, Rep. Paradee said, is job creation. Making it easier to start a small business and lowering the cost of electricity would help entrepreneurs, he said.

He has been vocal about his support for a higher minimum wage and said Friday he will work to protect middle- and lower-class households.

Delaware’s state government cut some services and increased taxes on alcohol, tobacco and home purchases this year to balance the budget, and debates about tax hikes are expected to continue when the General Assembly returns next year. Rep. Paradee says lawmakers should consider raising taxes for people making at least $250,000 rather than increasing taxes across the board or reducing services.

“We’re still going to be a cheaper deal than Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states in the region,” he insisted.

Dover has experienced record or near-record levels of shootings and criminal activity in recent years. Rep. Paradee says much of that stems from drugs and poverty.

Expanded rehabilitation programs and more affordable housing would help combat that violence, he said.

“You can’t just incarcerate your way to a safer society,” he said. “The last decade has taught us that.”

Sen. Bushweller has been a staunch supporter of the state’s casino industry, saying that legislators need to provide some form of financial relief to Dover Downs and the other two casinos in Delaware. Rep. Paradee is of a similar mind.

“At some point we’re going to end up putting them out of business, and that would be devastating to our economy,” he said of Dover Downs.

The casinos currently keep about 42 percent of their slot proceeds. Rep. Paradee believes that rate should be changed to 2008 levels, when the gambling establishments kept 48 percent.

In his news release he said he would support LGBTQ rights but did not mention he voted against same-sex marriage and transgender protections in 2013. Rep. Paradee said he voted how he felt the district wanted and said he believes many opponents of LGBTQ rights have since changed their minds.

While Rep. Paradee is confident he has the support of the party establishment and Democratic voters, he might have a primary opponent. Levy Court Commissioner Allan Angel is contemplating running for the Senate seat as well.

“I’m putting all my pieces of the puzzle together,” Mr. Angel said.

With 16,100 Democrats out of 31,100 registered voters, the 17th District is the most Democratic senatorial district in Kent or Sussex. The 29th is more mixed, although it still has a plurality of 7,600 Democrats. The party has about 7,600 of the 17,200 registered voters in the locale.

Democrats hold an 11-10 edge in the Senate and a 25-16 advantage in the House

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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