On Tuesday, September 9 Delaware voters will go to the polls to determine the winners of the 2014 Delaware Primary races. In the Milford area, Pat Emory and Gary Wolfe are running to represent the Democratic Party as the candidate for State Senate in the 18th District. Only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic Primary. The winner of this election will challenge incumbent Senator Gary Simpson in the November elections. Polls are open from 7 am until 8pm on Tuesday, September 9. Voters can find their polling place location online at https://ivote.de.gov.
Gary M. Wolfe, Candidate for 18th Senate District, Democratic Party
Occupation: Independent insurance agent for Aflac, previously 25 yrs. with Merck Animal Health
Family: Jacqueline (spouse 52); Gary II (son 22); Chris (son 22); Scott (son 20)
Education: Graduated Milford High School 1981; BS in Biology from Salisbury University 1991
Experience: Previously Candidate for Sussex County Council district 2 against Sam Wilson in 2012. Prior to that 2000-2012 elected to two terms on Milford Board of Education.
1. Why are you running for the Delaware State Senate?
During my tenure on the Milford Board of Education I had the opportunity to observe and realize there was much within the state that I felt was not being addressed. From our schools continuing to deal with ever changing educational initiatives pushed down on them, to the baggage our children today face including homelessness and hunger while still being expected to take the state tests. Delaware’s economy continues to struggle from the recession and many believe the recovery is just a matter of saving money, but as our population grows so must the revenue to pay for needed services (security, schools, and medical). The best way to grow the economy is livable wage jobs returning to the state so how as a legislature do we grow small and large business jobs? Start by looking at the regulations inhibiting business, and then maybe thinking outside the box to create special tax zones near our higher education institutes that hire Delaware citizens and pay livable wages. Finally, how do we work to fix the current business tax structure to grow business while still ensuring all pay their part for infrastructure and services provided to them? Let’s also not forget the states environment and how growth will affect it so how do we protect our water, air, and soil while we grow?
Today the next generation of Delawareans are being educated for the 21st century, but are being forced by the economy to leave for jobs and opportunities. Unless we as legislators can turn the trend around we will not be able to provide even the basic services needed by those remaining.
2. What personal or professional background will be critical to performing the duties of State Senate?
I believe my time involved with the Milford Board introduced me to the issues that are still irreparably tied together, education, accountability, and the economy. I was also a member of the Delaware School Board Association for 5 years which allowed me to work with and attack statewide education issues with both state legislators and other school board members around the state. My background beyond the school board was over 25 years in the private sector working in the Pharmaceutical industry as an Operational Manager. My position was management but I was directly responsible for overseeing the shop floor production, maintaining product quality, and meeting corporate goals. I worked alongside individuals whose education ranged from high school only to PhDs, and I saw my role as pulling ideas and skills together to produce the best quality while staying within budgets much like the State Senate must do.
3. Name a specific example of something the Delaware State Senate has done to improve the quality of life for citizens in Delaware.
There have been several key pieces of legislation that have helped improve the lives of Delaware’s citizens and top on my list would be the raising of the state’s minimum wages (SB6) that are that much closer now to a livable wage.
4. Name a specific example of something you would like to change in your first term if you are elected to the Delaware Senate.
I would like to see more communication between the state, municipal, and county economic development groups to set realistic goals and long-term plans (5 year) that allow them all to be more proactive and focus on growing back the businesses needed to support a healthy state.
5. What issues do you feel are important to the residents of Milford, Delaware specifically?
Based on my discussions as I’ve gone door to door, and attended town hall meetings, Milford is no different than the rest of Delaware over their concern for the economy. Many are looking for the economic development they have hoped would come as again they see a lack of livable wage jobs while the population continues to grow in the area. Milford continues to struggle with maintaining its small town feel knowing that unless it grows it will not be able to support its infrastructure.
6. How will you offer help to the City of Milford’s focus on economic development?
I have already begun to lay some groundwork as I have reached out to the new mayor, and began attending ward meetings to see what the issues are. I would like to set up a group to meet with both the municipal, and unincorporated areas of the counties in the 18th to begin seeing how the state can help them both set and reach their 5 year plans.
7. Does the state spend too much money? And if so, where would you specifically cut spending?
The state is no different than a large business it makes some bad investments and has blown some money it should have held onto. There is waste that needs to be stopped in most areas of the state budget, and one small one I’ve often questioned is paying College Board to administer the SAT’s to every 10th grader. Many of these students will be attending the SEED program which does not require the SAT results, and still many more will attend one of the 800+ colleges that don’t require the SAT or ACT for admissions in the US.
8. If elected, how will you affect the quality of public education in your district?
First, Milford like many other schools west of the beaches is continuing to have funding issues as they struggle to pass recent referendums due to the poor economy. The population grows and the number of children has gone up, but those coming in fall in the free/reduced programs as their parents are not making livable wages. To improve the quality of education for ALL students the state needs to address the inequality in funding that has districts competing for student dollars, teachers, and comparing apples to oranges when it comes to accountability.
9. Why should voters choose you on Tuesday, September 9?
First, I am an alumni of Milford High School having graduated in 1981. I met my wife, Jackie, at Milford High school and after both of us attending college and receiving our degrees we married in 1985. My service to the Milford community started when I joined the Carlisle Fire Company in 1982, and I trained as both a firefighter and EMT. I was a member of fire service from 1982 until 1997, when we relocating our family outside the district. From 1998 to 2000, I was an involved dad who was a Boy Scout leader when my sons joined scouting, and a soccer dad when they were involved with the Milford Parks and Recreation leagues. My children all attended school in the Milford School district, and in 2000 I decided to run for the Milford Board of Education feeling the need to become involved. I learned during my 10 year tenure on the board several lessons that continue to drive me, and the reason I began seeking political office. Education is not only the largest piece of the state’s budget, but is tied to the states continuing struggles with homelessness, economic development, infrastructure, and even accountability. I pride myself on being a continuous learner and I took it as part of my responsibility to learn all I could about education while on the board from how schools are funded, to all the curriculum initiatives that began with NCLB to RTTT. I also volunteered to serve on the Delaware School Board Association Board of Directors allowing me to be exposed to the larger picture of education throughout the state, and interacting with the state legislators. Although my time on the Milford Board was some of the most fulfilling times in my personal life, I was still disappointed by something I saw as a growing concern the mass exodus of our youth from Delaware for jobs.
In my professional career, I worked in the private sector as an Operational Manager working 25 years in Millsboro for Intervet/Merck Animal Health. I started working first on the shop floor and worked my way up through the ranks to a position of management. In 2013, Merck downsized ~20% of its workforce to remain competitive in the changing Pharmaceutical Industry, and I was exposed to the economies biggest issue today, lack of livable wage jobs. I used my savings to train for a new industry, and received my license to sell health insurance taking a part time job as an independent agent with Aflac. My wife is a school nurse in the Milford School District, and we both have worked hard to see our sons go on to attend college. I want to be your next State Senator because I believe we need individuals in office who have world experiences and ideas that can move our state forward, and help keep our future citizens here by giving them the opportunities they need.
More information on Gary Wolfe can be found online at http://www.garywolfe.net.