Q&A with Dave Wilson



The General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 with candidates vying for local, state and federal offices. Representative Dave Wilson is challenging Jim Purcell for the Senate District 18 seat which was vacated when Senator Gary Simpson announced his retirement earlier this year. Questions that are on the minds of voters were asked of both candidates with Wilson’s responses below.

Wilson was born and raised on a farm in Lincoln. In 1970, he married his wife, Carolyn, and they started a business together, Wilson Auction Sales, Inc. He has continued to be a farmer, breeding and raising animals. He formerly held the elected positions of Register in Chancery and Register of Wills, and is currently the 35th District State Representative. He is also involved in many local and regional organizations, including the Delaware State Fair, serving on the Board of Directors.

Q:  There have been many efforts to repeal or adjust the prevailing wage rules in Delaware. Do you support the repeal of prevailing wage or would you like to see it continued in its current format? What are your reasons for supporting or repealing prevailing wage? How do you think prevailing wage helps or hurts trades in the area?

A:  Prevailing wage is a minimum wage scale the state Department of Labor sets for projects involving the use of state money.  These baseline wages are set by occupation, type of project, and the county in which the project is located.  Unfortunately, the way the state performs its survey results in the setting of inaccurate wages that are often wildly high.  For instance, unskilled laborers working on a building construction project in any of the three counties must be paid at least $46.20 per hour – over $96,000 per year for some working a standard 40-hour work week.  These types of inaccuracies add tens-of-millions of dollars to taxpayers’ costs for building roads, schools, and other public works projects.  Many of my colleagues and I have suggested using wage data already gathered by the federal government.  Not only would this save the $1 million annually that the state spends to conduct its flawed survey, it would result in data that better reflects the marketplace, was fair to workers, and less expensive for taxpayers.

Q:  Bayhealth’s new Sussex campus is expected to be completed in 2019. This new campus is expected to bring significant growth to the area. What growth do you support in the area and how would you, as a state legislator, assist Milford and Sussex County in guiding that growth?

A:  Responsible development is part of a healthy, vital economy.  Before any new ground is developed, project planners should first consider the reuse of older industrial, commercial, and residential properties.  (Such redevelopment is already planned for the former hospital site.)  State government has typically allowed local governments to take the lead in development issues, because these officials live in the communities where this work takes place and are more accessible and accountable to the citizens most impacted by such decisions.   However, state transportation officials need to remain an essential part of this process to both ensure local roads are not overburdened and to work with developers to minimize disagreements over access issues that could derail projects.

Q:  One of the biggest issues facing the Milford area is mid-to-high level jobs. What would you like to see happen at the state level to bring more of these types of jobs to Delaware?

A:  Delaware Pathways is an education and workforce partnership that creates early career experiences for high school students.  According to the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, students were enrolled in 14 model pathways in 2017-18 school year.  This initiative is an overdue realization that college is not a pathway to a meaningful, well-paying career for many students.  There are numerous jobs in services and trades in our area that go begging for want of qualified candidates.  We need to continue our efforts to match education and training to these local quality employment opportunities.

Q:  There is a strong push in Delaware to legalize recreational marijuana. Do you support legalization or oppose it? Please give your reasons for either supporting or opposing the legislation.

A:  I do not support it. We have not yet fully phased-in our medical marijuana law, so I believe it is premature to legalize recreational marijuana.  Additionally, Colorado — one of the first states to embrace recreational marijuana — has experienced an increase in impaired driving and some types of crime directly related to legalized pot.

Q:  With some areas near Milford dealing with unsafe water quality, what ideas do you plan to bring to the state to address unsafe water? How do you think the state can better protect water quality throughout the area?

A:  I think the state is protecting water quality and that statewide, water quality has gradually improved — despite some of the recent localized problems.  Many of the issues we are seeing are the legacies of practices conducted years ago.  I think DNREC should consider adding to its compliance staff to better enforce existing regulations and ensure everyone who is subject to the rules is living up to their obligations to protect the environment and the health of their neighbors.

Q:  In addition to drinking water quality, many of the waterways in the Milford area, including the Mispillion River, do not meet Clean Water Act standards. What are your plans, if elected, to begin cleaning up the waterways in our area?

A:  Our state and nation does not lack for Clean Water laws and regulations.  We first need to ensure what is currently in place is being effectively and fairly applied.  I do not object to establish a Clean Water Fund to foster projects to accelerate the cleanup of past contamination.  However, I do not think we should create a new tax or fee to fund it, but rather finance it with existing resources.

Q:  With growth comes the need for more housing. Currently, there is a clash between the need for additional housing and the need to preserve agricultural lands. How should the state assist in balancing the need for housing with the need for agriculture? What ideas do you have to help balance these needs?

A:  Land use decisions are largely the purview of local government, not state government.  Also, the construction of new homes does not have to be synonymous with developing farmland and open space.  Having said this, it is true that some farmers view their land as their retirement account, selling it off when they become too old to continue working it.  That is why I have been a leading proponent of continued funding of the Farmland Preservation Program and the Young Farmer Program – two state initiatives that seeks to keep agricultural land in active production.  Keeping family farms viable protects our state’s leading industry (agriculture) while saving open space.

Q:  Road repairs and infrastructure are in need of repair due to significant growth. How would you address funding these repairs? Would you support an increase in the motor fuel tax or another type of mileage-based tax to fund the repairs? Please explain why you would or would not support this type of funding.

A:  I do not agree with the premise of the question.  Delaware roads, when judged against those elsewhere in the nation, are in comparatively good repair.  Within the last few years, the General Assembly increased funding for road construction and maintenance.  The result has been the undertaking of many improvement projects, including several that have either recently been completed in the Milford area (the South Frederica Interchange) or are currently under construction (the NE Front Street Interchange).  Work continues on major projects on Delaware 1 near Little Heaven and the new 13-mile long highway between U.S. 301 and Delaware 1.  DelDOT officials have told me on more than one occasion that our state’s road construction capacity is being fully utilized.

Q:  Local residents have demonstrated that they are unwilling or unable to support tax increases to build new schools in Milford, despite overcrowding in classrooms. What changes would you like to see made regarding school funding at the state level that may address class sizes above 25? What state regulations would you like to change to help districts better plan for growth?

A:  The state pays for about 70-percent of the capital and operational costs of schools.  About one-of-every-three dollars the state appropriates is spent on public education.  That high-level of commitment is unlikely to change.  However, the way the state allocates this money needs to be reexamined and reformed.  It is a flawed, dated system that does not meet some of the challenges and realities of the present.  State government should serve as a partner to help facilitate the will of a district’s residents in meeting its education mission.  This includes ensuring funding is being distributed in equitable fashion.

Q:  People are becoming more active, walking and using bicycles as methods of transportation. If elected, how would you work to add more bike and pedestrian lanes on local roads to encourage more people to use this type of transportation? What obstacles do you see to create more multimodal infrastructure? How would you try to overcome these obstacles?

A:  By some estimates, Delaware is already the third most bike-friendly state in the nation.  We have spent tens-of-millions of dollars – sometimes to the detriment to other needs – building bike paths and adding or marking bicycle share lanes on Delaware roads.  Downstate, the use of bikes to commute to and from work is simply not practical for the majority of residents.  The distances involved, and the nature of our weather, often preclude someone riding to work and arriving in a state that they are ready to do their jobs unaffected by their journey.  While I support continuing some efforts to accommodate bicycles enthusiasts where such projects are pragmatic, I do not see the need to embark on a new round of questionable spending. 


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