On Tuesday, November 6 local voters will be deciding which man they want to serve as their Sussex County Councilman for the 2nd District. The 2nd District of the Sussex County Council represents northwestern and central Sussex County including parts of Milford. Gary Wolfe (Democrat) is challenging the incumbent Samuel Wilson Jr. (Republican).
Gary Wolfe and his wife Jacqueline A. Wolfe have three sons Gary M Wolfe II, Christopher A Wolfe, and Scott J Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe has his Associates in Lab Technology from Delaware Tech in Georgetown and his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Salisbury University. He has been employed 24 years by Merck Animal Health (formerly Intervet, inc.) in Millsboro, DE as a Production Supervisor and is currently responsible for Emulsion and Central Filling an area which produces killed and live virus vaccines for the Poultry Industry. Over the last 10 years Mr. Wolfe served on the Milford School Board as Milford’s representative to Delaware School Board Association Board of Directors for 8 years and as its President in 2007/2008. Prior to the school board Wolfe was a member of the Carlisle Fire Company in Milford from 1981 to 1997 as fireman, EMT, and ambulance driver.
1. Why are you running for the Sussex County District 2 seat?
As I’ve mentioned previously to those who’ve asked the reason I’m running for County Council is not dissatisfaction with a particular party or its ideology. I do believe that like City level politics, party does not play as large a role in the decision making process as ensuring that the goals and visions of the community are met with each decision made. As to why more people are not running for County Council my personal thoughts are that many do not understand what the Council is responsible for and the role it plays in setting the future tracks in the immediate communities it touches. The District 2 seat is responsible for a very large area and several key municipalities in the county so the individual sitting in the seat needs to be someone who is willing to work hard for all the areas of their district, and it does not matter which party they run with.
2. What personal or professional background will be critical to performing the duties of County Council?
I’ve spent the last 10 years as a member of the Milford Board of Education, and also a member of the Delaware School Board Association Board of Directors. During this time I learned what it was to work with a group that works by majority rule, and that a quorum is needed to get any work done. Like the County Council, a school board is elected to serve a term by the constituents in an area to management a budget, hire and oversee staff, develop policies, and produce results in line with a developed vision. During this same time frame I was also working full time for Merck Animal Health as a Production Manager, and have worked for them for 25 years. As a manager I also was responsible for very similar tasks including budgets, hiring and training staff, and producing results. Being a leader at both work and in my work with school boards has prepared me for the responsibilities that come with Sussex County Councilman.
3. Name a specific example of something the Sussex County Council has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware.
Recently, Joan Deaver and the Council have worked to improve the security in Sussex County by working with the State Police to put additional officers on the street in the county. This brings the number to 44 State police officers now able to help maintain the security of the citizens in the county. Along the same security idea, county council has worked to maintain the emergency medical services in the county by funding a top rate Paramedical service in the county.
4. Name a specific example of something you would like to change in your first term if you are elected to the Sussex County Council.
The responsibilities of the County Council include: land use, establishing policies, adopting an annual budget, and enacting plans for the county’s future. If I have to pick one as a priority I would say it is planning for the future because if not we will continue to see citizens suffering poor quality of life in our county. Sussex has some of the lowest wages of all three counties, and affordable housing is still outside the reach of 52% of our Sussex citizens. There are a good many opportunities for improving the future for the citizens of Sussex but they involve working more closely with the state and municipalities which can only happen if lines of communication are better enhanced.
5. What issues do you feel are important to the citizens of Milford, Delaware in particular?
After talking to the city manager, and chamber of commerce, I believe the most important issues is the same the school district was seeing when I was on the board, poverty. With 52-56% of the students in the school district receiving free or reduced lunches, and many taking food home on weekends it points too many in Milford working at jobs that are low wages. The growth in Milford’s population has been in the Hispanic community, and many of those are working at service type jobs for lower wages.
Another piece to this puzzle that is also an important issue is growth in Milford but it is a different growth then Milford has been used to. Besides the growth in the Hispanic community, there is a growing population of retired, out-of–state older citizens who are on fixed incomes, and have no children. This type of growth does not impact the income for the city or county, and yet it requires the services offered by both. Both the city and the school district face the same future if finances don’t improve by finding high wage earning jobs in Milford.
6. How will you offer help to the City of Milford’s focus on economic development?
First the County has an Economic Development Office that the County uses to promote itself to businesses looking to locate to Sussex County. Beyond that there are several other opportunities the County and City can take advantage of to improve the economic outlook for both. First, neither is alone in this issue and both need to reach out to each other and the state to work on how best to sell the incorporated and unincorporated area of the County to perspective businesses. Next the county needs to work with the municipalities on issues like high speed communications, wastewater, roads, and other key infrastructures to eliminate those road blocks to businesses. They then need to look at the work force needed by these perspective businesses and work with schools and other agencies to see that they can provide the right people with right skills to make the businesses successful. Looking closer at the work force issues the County/Cities need to work again with others to provide for the needs of the employees as well by seeing they have affordable housing and good schools for their families at home. If all the parties can work with and communicate with each other to provide these key pieces and provide other incentives to businesses it is possible to bring the higher wage paying jobs to Sussex. I would like to see the 21st century skills we are teaching our next generations stay in Sussex and Delaware by opening doors for those students.
7. If elected to office in November, how will you help small business owners in your district?
Small business owners are the backbone of the city and many are leaders in their communities so it’s important that as a councilman I reach out along with the city leaders to see what is needed to support these businesses. Right now I’m hearing that over regulation is a major concern with small businesses, and I know that many of these regulations were from another time so it’s time to revisit them and do away with bad/unnecessary regulations. Other issues with small business owners include insurance for self and employees, and also taxes that prevent many from being able to reinvest in there businesses to help it grow. It will be very important to meet with the new economic development office in Milford to see how city and county can work together on these issues.
8. Why should voters choose you over your opponent on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
I’ve spent the last 10 years as a member of the Milford School Board which has taught me how to work with diverse groups and still get the job done. I also worked on everything from infrastructure to Policies, and the budget. Finally, I worked with Administrators and the Teachers to reach difficult decisions about how to plan the future needs for the students. During my term I also had the opportunity to meet and work closely with our legislators, and I believe that my communication skills will be a plus as I look for ways to build bridges. As a continuous learner I do my homework before I make decisions, and if I don’t have the answers I will find someone who does.