At a time when the tenor of political debate in our country has been hotly discussed, it was refreshing to hear the remarks of Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan during the first day of the 2011 legislative session.
Shortly after being sworn-in as Speaker, Rep. Gilligan said he did not consider himself a “Democratic Speaker of the House” but rather a Speaker for all 41 state representatives.
Democrats currently enjoy a 26 to 15 advantage in the House and can pass most forms of legislation without the input or cooperation of the Republican minority. Rep. Gilligan is the most-tenured member of the General Assembly, having first been elected in 1972. During most of those 38 years he has been in the minority party. As such, it would have been understandable if he had he oppressed his Republican colleagues when his party took control in 2008.
Democrats do make maximum use of the control they have, stacking committees in their favor and controlling which bills are debated on the floor. Having said that, by all reports, Speaker Gilligan’s first two years in leading the chamber have largely lived up to his pledge to be a Speaker for all its members.
I applaud Speaker Gilligan for his past actions and current leadership and I hope he’ll continue to be a leader that will make all Delawareans proud in the year ahead as we grapple with the potentially politically-divisive issues of controlling state spending and redrawing our state’s Senate and House districts to reflect the recently-completed U.S. Census.
State Rep. Jack Peterman