On Tuesday, November 8, local voters will be deciding which candidate they want to represent the 33rd State House of Representative seat in the upcoming general election. The 33rd District represents Kent County including parts of Frederica, Houston, Magnolia and Milford. Democrat Karen Williams and Republican Charles Postles are on November’s ballot.
Karen Williams is a lifelong resident of Kent County and a graduate of Lake Forest High School. Her parents, Jean and Billy Wothers of Felton, are known for a life full of faith and service, so as a young Delawarean, she always pursued a journey committed to her community. After graduation from the University of Delaware, Williams began her teaching career and then earned a Master of Arts degree in History from Washington College and has taught social studies for the past 30 years. She is proud to share that her leadership class students have volunteered over 40,000 hours of community service over the past sixteen years and her students have raised more than $170,000 for local charities. In 2010, Williams accepted the title Lake Forest School District Teacher of the Year.
Her experience as an educator has led her to numerous additional opportunities to give back to the community including her service as a Board Member for the Food Bank of Delaware, where she was recently named the Food Bank of Delaware Community Member of the Year. She teaches Sunday School at the Felton United Methodist Church, served as an advisor to numerous student organizations, and has been awarded the Earl Reum Region II Award, the Benjamin F. Burton Humanitarian Award, The University of Delaware Excellence in Education Award, and the Delaware Association of Student Councils Advisor of the Year award.
1. What is your opinion of Delaware’s overall financial health and what can be done to strengthen it?
Delaware maintains a AAA rating from all three major rating agencies, which speaks to our fiscal responsibility and strength of our economy and workforce. However, it can be stronger. Each year the State runs an operating ratio close to one, meaning action may need to be taken to close shortfalls the following year. Legislators should take the budget seriously and stop “kicking the can down the road.” As 33rd District Representative, voters can count on a leader who will ensure their tax dollars are spent wisely and with the State’s fiscal health in mind.
2. Do you believe Delaware’s economy is getting better, worse or stagnant and what can legislators do to help build a strong economy?
Delaware’s economy is modestly strong. Our labor market continues to outpace the national average and other states in the region, and our GDP per capita is much higher than most states. Wage growth, however, needs to become a priority. Not all workers are sharing in the economic growth since the Recession. One of the easiest, long-term, sustainable investments a State can make to boost wages and job creation is in its education system. By building a strong education system through investments in quality pre-K, public education, higher education, and higher skilled training, Delaware wages will grow and economic growth will flourish.
3. What current challenges are present with Delaware’s infrastructure and roadways and how can these challenges be met? What role will you play?
Much of Delaware’s infrastructure is outdated. The State should commit to modernizing its infrastructure, while improving that which is already existing. These investments will yield great returns for the business community, who use our roads, energy, and water to earn profits, and the economy. My role, as 33rd District Representative, will be to work with the community to identify much needed projects and make sure they are completed on time, as well as coordinating projects around the lives of my constituents. I’ve met with resident who are forced to drive several miles north, out of their way, in order to go south. The ongoing Route I expansion in Milford and Frederica is causing distress for our community. Giving members of the community a seat at the planning table could have prevented such headaches. As your voice in Dover, I will be present and advocating for you 100% of the time.
4. With many public school districts struggling to meet operating expenses and overcrowding, what are your ideas to meet these challenges?
We need to invest in our schools wisely to make them the best in the nation, but not by relying solely on property tax increases. Investments should be aimed at hiring more top notch educators, increasing educator training, modernizing the classroom, and expanding Pre-K education opportunities. These actions will result in a top performing education system by setting our children up for success, retaining top talent, and reducing class sizes. To fund these initiatives, I will help move the General Assembly away from pet projects to the elimination of wasteful spending. Even those who complain about spending submit spending increases each year. We need true fiscal responsibility in Dover, meaning we invest where we need to and we pay for it. Instead of relying only on increased property assessments, where saved spending doesn’t cover education investment, Delaware could study the effects of capping property tax revenues and shifting revenues in excess of that cap to lower-funded districts. States that enforce similar measures see increases in state spending per pupil across the board without over burdening the taxpayers.
5. As health care costs continue to rise, what can be done to ensure that families can afford quality coverage?
Health care providers in Delaware have a responsibility to serve our public in the best way. We should aim to expand coverage, so that Delawareans aren’t forced to visit the Emergency Room for routine checkups, we need to cut wasteful spending, avoid doing so on the backs of our State employees, and make better deal for coverage. As your representative, I will make sure all Delawareans have access to the healthcare and vital services that they require. Investment in healthcare of all Delawareans should be smart, efficient, and reliable. We need to build upon the advantage of mobile technology to connect Delawareans with healthcare providers and make healthcare a more personalize experience. Let’s focus on negative health prevention and positive outcomes. As one of the largest employers the state, the state should set an example and offer state employees not working enough hours to qualify for health insurance at a pro-rated rate to participate in the state health plan. We should be setting the example of making sure all employees are covered by health care or have it at an affordable rate.
6. If voted into office, how will you communicate with constituents and ensure public transparency during your term?
Transparency is key for the success of a democratic republic. One easy change is to remove the exemption in Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act shielding the email communications of legislators from public view. Voters put us in office and have a right to know what work we are doing, who is involved, and how their tax dollars are spent. I would also support the continued strength of our budgeting and auditing processes.
7. Why should residents vote for you on Tuesday, November 8?
There is a misconception that certain parties have domain over certain values. I have been a lifelong resident of Kent County and possess Kent County principles of respect, selflessness, honesty and integrity. I am a thirty-year educator who is active in my community and my church, I support investments in public education and higher skilled training. I support business and the elimination of overbearing regulations to reduce the cost of business, I support the Second Amendment and hunting, I support farmers and the protection of their lands, and I support our military and veterans. As Representative for the 33rd District, I will serve the needs of my constituents while also embodying Kent County values. By voting Karen Williams you’re not only electing an educator with thirty years’ experience to address the problems plaguing our public education system; you are electing a leader with an unprecedented track record in community service and who will coordinate infrastructure projects with constituents, so residents aren’t forced to drive miles out of their way, just to get to work. I will embrace our dynamic economy so that any person who works hard will achieve economic dignity. I will give Delaware educators what they need in order to do their jobs effectively, starting with fewer mandated exams and eliminating useless limitations on teaching. With a strong education system, elimination of wasteful spending and smart investments, a strong economy and jobs will follow. With Karen Williams in office, Kent County will have a Representative who will listen and address the concerns of her constituents, while maintaining the respect and integrity that the public deserves.
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