By Michael Short
The 36th Representative District race has been a relatively low-key affair.
Democrat Russ McCabe and Republican Harvey Kenton are vying for the seat in a race that has been noticeably above board and without rancor. In an election year filled with finger pointing and tough rhetoric, the 36th race has been a breath of fresh air.
The two men are competing to replace V. George Carey, the Republican farmer who has held the seat for as long as most people can remember. Carey chose not to seek another term, leaving the seat open.
Kenton bills himself as a very traditional, very conservative, family-values candidate. He checked with Carey’s family to be sure his son did not want to follow in his footsteps before declaring his candidacy.
Kenton is extremely active in the community and he’s become known for his yellow smiling face campaign signs topped with a flattop haircut. He jokes that he’s had a flattop since the day he was born and he likes to say homey things like “Have I made mistakes? Yes, that’s why God put erasers on pencils. But the important thing is to not make the same mistake twice.”
Kenton has worked in agriculture for 20 years and has been a licensed realtor. He said that he believes in term limits for legislators. He opposes additional slot machines and said he will not vote for any new taxes.
He said an approximately 6.5 percent increase in the state budget this year was inappropriate and said that Delaware needs to cut spending. “We are just throwing money at issues.”
“We must make tough decisions because it is clear to me that Dover does not have an income problem. It has a spending problem,” he said on his website.
He goes on to say that we “must return Delaware back to the days of tax advantage, small business loans, streamlined compliance requirements and the like to solidify our current business environment. Only after we do that, can we aggressively reach out to and sell Delaware and the 36th District as a great place to locate a company. With small business as the backbone of our economy, I want to get and keep government out of the way of our small business owners’ future.”
He supports tax credits for new or existing businesses and said that legislators need to be able to work across the aisle.
He calls himself a religious man who believes in “Christian family values.”
When asked what he would say to a new voter, he said “Listen folks, I know you don’t want to listen to another politician. I’m for less taxes and less spending. I’m for getting government out of farming (and small business). And if you have any questions, I will call you back.”
Kenton said he is a strong supporter of education and said we need to pay our teachers well. He said that schools are administration heavy and he called for more local control for school districts.
Both he and McCabe questioned whether too much emphasis has been placed upon Delaware’s state testing system, saying it can stifle creativity.
Kenton said that with unemployment and foreclosures, “I am worried about the future of my grandchildren.”
Kenton prides himself on honesty and integrity and says he will support agriculture, education, veterans, seniors and the environment. “People say I’m honest. I like that,” he said.
Kenton previously served on the Milford School Board and has a strong history of community service. He has been an officer of the Delaware State Fair and been active in Pop Warner football, the boys and girls club and little league, among other organizations.
McCabe, 54, retired from the Delaware State Archives where he worked for more than 30 years. He previously served as the Sussex County Recorder of Deeds.
“We need a strong voice,” he said.
“The only promise I’m making as part of my campaign is to be a forceful advocate. . . The only way Sussex legislators will be effective is if we can work together across party lines,” McCabe said.
McCabe called for less partisan politics, particularly in a small state like Delaware. “We need to put partisanship aside.”
“We have to get away from increasing partisanship,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
In terms of saving money, he said that more flexibility in state purchasing could potentially save huge amounts of money.
He also called for better communication on the issues and on how taxpayer money is being used and spent.
McCabe called for possible low interest loans or tax incentives to help attract and retain businesses. “If you want business to grow, don’t add to the tax burden.”
“Every time I go to a candidate forum, I hear the same thing – the economy,” he said. McCabe said Delaware needs to work hard to attract new business. He said the state needs to be aggressive and creative in order to attract businesses. He said a decision to put more money into the state’s strategic fund was a good decision which can help Delaware business.
“First and foremost, we must find creative ways to encourage the growth of businesses and creation of jobs,” he said on his website. “To do so, we must focus on enhanced education and training . . . which support a diverse and growing economy. The hallmark quality of an effective legislator is their responsiveness to the daily needs and concerns of the people they serve.”
Delaware also needs to make bureaucracy less cumbersome and more seamless, he said. “A lot of people tell me they have to call eight offices to get an answer,” he said.
He said we need smaller class sizes and questioned whether too much emphasis has been placed upon testing. He also argued that schools are administration top heavy. “The bottom line is we need smaller classes or teachers need more help in the classroom,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to get the best and brightest to teach our kids.”
McCabe also has been active in the community, working with Georgetown Historical Society, little league, Milton Historical Society, Preservation Delaware and other groups.
“The fundamental reason I am running is to be an advocate for the 36th District and Sussex County,” he said.