The 18th Senatorial District, which includes most of Milford, has a Republican primary that will occur on Tuesday, September 11 between incumbent F. Gary Simpson and challenger Matthew Opaliski. The winner of the primary will face no Democratic challenger in November and will be elected as the 18th District Senator in the State of Delaware. Milford LIVE asked both Simpson and Opaliski a series of questions that introduces them to our readers and explains their intentions of becoming State Senator representing the Milford area in 2013. Voting for the Republican Primary in the state of Delaware will occur on Tuesday, September 11. Polls open from 7 am to 8 pm and only registered voters from participating parties may vote. To view where voting will take place for specific individuals visit http://pollingplace.delaware.gov/.
F. Gary Simpson was born in Houston, Delaware and has lived in Milford for 36 years. Married to wife Debbie Simpson for 43 years, Gary is father to three daughters Lindsay, Abby and Andrea. Simpson has been a Republican member of the Delaware State Senate since 1998. He is currently the Senate Minority Leader. Simpson achieved his Bachelor and Master’s of Science degrees at the University of Delaware.In addition to being a state senator, Simpson is also a member of the Alumni and University Relations group for the University of Delaware.
Why are you running for the 18th Senatorial District?
I am running for the State Senate because I feel I have something to offer my constituents. Public service can be time consuming and frustrating, but I enjoy what I am doing because I feel I am making a difference in people’s lives. I am their voice in the State Legislature, standing in their place and helping to solve difficult issues. I find it rewarding when I can help people through their own personal difficulties.
What personal or professional background will be critical to performing the duties of State Senator?
Having run a major small business like the Delaware State Fair, I’ve had the experience of working through budget issues, contract negotiations, building & grounds improvements, customer relations, labor negotiations, you name it. All were issues that have served me well since coming to the legislature. I’ve also had experience in the higher education arena working at the University of Delaware for the past 20 years. These are both unique experiences that have given me a strong background in which to be an effective legislator. Having to deal with a diverse population throughout my professional career has given me the experience necessary to be able to work across party lines to achieve benefits for my constituents.
Name a specific example of something the State Senate has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware.
I think one of the greatest things State government has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware is the preservation of our Open Spaces and Agricultural Lands. Delaware ranks first in the nation in the percentage of land that has been preserved for future generations, while at the same time provide us with the natural beauty that surrounds us today.
Name a specific example of something you would like to change in your first term if you are elected to the 18th District Senate Seat.
If there was one thing I would like to happen in my next term in the State Senate it would be the repeal of several tax increases that were instituted in 2009 in order to solve the State budget crisis. That crisis is effectively over and those increases need to be repealed. In my opinion, this will foster greater economic prosperity for individual taxpayers, and lead to growth of small business, the backbone of our economy.
What issues do you feel are important to the citizens of Milford, Delaware in particular?
One of the issues I hear more consistently than others deals with electric rates. This issue is not confined to Milford though and it affects the citizens of other communities throughout Delaware. I also hear about issues dealing with various State agencies, but more particularly, the Department of Transportation which at times has been slow in approving various project’s entrance permits. In bad economic times crime always seems to escalate, but Milford is blessed with a terrific police force and they’ve been doing a great job in combating law-breaking.
How will you offer help to the City of Milford’s focus on economic development?
First, State agencies need to respond in a timely manner to economic development issues as they arise. Case in point is the issue with DelDot that’s been previously noted. It does no good for the City and private entrepreneurs to bring business to the City and then have a State agency slow down the process to such an extent that the developer finally just walks away. Businesses can go anywhere in the world today and we must work to make the conditions right for them to locate in Milford and other parts of the 18th District as well. Milford’s legislators must continue to work together to bring needed grant and low interest loans to the City in order to extend sewer and water to those areas ripe for economic development.
If elected to office in November, how will you help small business owners in your district?
Small business is the life blood of a community. I will work to make State agencies more responsive to the needs of the business community, and become a resource rather than a deterrent to growth. I will also target the repeal of tax increases placed on small business in 2009 in order to balance the State budget. When small business succeeds, we all prosper. Regulations need to be fair and consistent and I recognize that small business needs government to get off their backs and out the door.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent on Tuesday, September 11, 2012?
I feel I should be the voter’s choice for a number of reasons. Most important though is the experience I bring to the table. And I don’t necessarily mean just in the Senate, although that’s a plus. Rather, I also mean experience in life. I worked at low level jobs to earn enough to pay my way through college. I’ve run a successful small business (The Delaware State Fair). I’ve worked with a major University dealing with people from all walks of life (University of Delaware). I’ve been deeply involved in leadership positions with non-profits like the Delaware 4-H Foundation and Milford Memorial Hospital; two groups that represent children on one hand and healthcare issues on the other. I now sit as the Minority Leader in the Senate, serve on 9+ committees, and sit in leadership positions with two national organizations; one focused on issues relating to agriculture and the other with issues facing the education of our children. All this adds up to a depth of leadership and diverse areas of experience that benefit my constituents in the 18th Senate District as well as the citizens of Delaware.