The General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 with candidates vying for local, state and federal offices. Donald Allan is challenging former Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe for the 36th House of Representative seat which was vacated when Representative Dave Wilson chose to run for the seat vacated after Senator Gary Simpson announced his retirement earlier this year. Questions that are on the minds of voters were asked of both candidates with Allan’s responses below.
Allan is a second generation carpenter that lives in Milton, Delaware, with his wife of five years, Carrie, and their four-year-old daughter, Josie. He’s worked in the construction industry in Sussex County since 2003, loves cooking, all Philly sports teams and crabbing.
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 feel prevailing wage benefits or hurts trades in this area?
A: As an individual that’s worked in a trade and been a part of the working class my whole life, I will never vote for any legislation that will lower the wage for any middle or working class individual in our state. The income gap between the wealthy and the average person in our country is already at historic levels and repealing the prevailing wage would only increase wage disparity in Delaware. We need to be raising the wages of those in the working and middle classes, not lowering them. Prevailing wage is also not the reason costs run high for construction projects; I’ve been running construction projects for 15 years. Labor is, on average, only 25% of the cost for a properly run construction project. The biggest issue with prevailing wage laws is the failure of contractors to return the survey that the state sends out every year in order to set the prevailing wage in a community. The state can only use the data that contractors are returning to them. If only union shops are returning the prevailing wage surveys, then the union wage automatically becomes the prevailing wage. I’m often shocked when I hear from another contractor that is upset with the prevailing wage to then learn that they didn’t bother to return the survey.
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: The opening of the new hospital provides the area with a tremendous opportunity to attract more skilled professionals to our region not only to work, but to make a home. We need to be willing to invest in our district and in surrounding areas to make the quality of life improvements that are necessary to attract such residents, rather than lose them to areas that may have more opportunities or better options in terms of schooling, housing, recreation, shopping, eating, and yes, clean, safe drinking water. I would enter the legislature as a member of the majority party; as such, I would be better able to persuade those in power to divert funds to our area in order to continue much needed infrastructure improvements. I would also prioritize greater equalization of school funding, as well as continued efforts to offer incentives for new businesses to open in our area. Fixing our water issue must also be at the top of the list of improvements; we will not attract professionals to live in our regions if they are afraid to drink the water coming out of their faucets. With our roads growing ever more crowded, particularly in the summer, I also think that we need to invest more in public transportation and a bus system that runs more regularly and more frequently in order to serve our seniors, lower-income residents, and those who simply wish to reduce traffic or their carbon footprint.
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: This goes hand in hand with the previous question; the best way to attract jobs is to have a trained and skilled workforce. It all goes back to education. According to one piece of research I saw, 61% of people born in Delaware now live somewhere else, while retirees are moving here in waves. We need to transform Delaware into both a great place to retire AND a great place to stay and raise a family. To do that, we need to attract the employers of the future and the employees of the future. By making sure that our schools are equally funded and producing students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce, trade school, or college, by assuring that Delaware Tech has the funds that it needs to continue to train the high-skilled tech workers who will fill such jobs, and by providing incentives to Delaware State University and the University of Delaware to continue to conduct state of the art research in a variety of fields, we can attract top-notch talent to stay. All of this involves a concerted effort by state leaders to find creative ways to redirect spending or increase revenues in order to spend a bit more building up our state’s infrastructure. We need to think out of the box. Perhaps we could look at running a commuter rail line parallel to Rt. 1 to ease traffic and improve commute times. Perhaps we could look at further improving Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown so that it can offer commercial flights. We must be forward thinking and willing to go outside of “what we’ve always done” in order to plan and prepare for a better future. Government is always reacting to problems and is never proactive. I will look to be proactive.
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 support the legalization, taxation, and regulation of recreational marijuana. The reality is that our current policy is not stopping the consumption of marijuana, nor is it realistically attempting to do so. The only result of our current policy is that it’s keeping money on the black market, which as a result costs every taxpayer in Delaware. By ending the prohibition on cannabis, we’re opening a new revenue stream for the state, a new small business opportunity in the form of dispensaries, a new cash crop for our farmers to grow, and a personal freedom to decide for oneself whether to consume marijuana or not.
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’ve been involved in cleaning up Sussex County’s water issues for years, and I am the Delaware Sierra Club endorsed candidate in this race due to the work I’ve put in and the attention I’ve given to this issue. It’s a problem that the current Representatives in our area have paid next to no attention to and is one of the primary reasons we need to bring change to the area. There is no more important issue in this race than ensuring that we all have clean water to drink. First and foremost, we need to require that every home sold and leased in this state that has a private drinking well has had a water test conducted within the last year, and that the results of the test are disclosed to the new occupants. This will be the first bill that I introduce as our Representative. Further, we need to ensure that the Legislature is conducting oversight on DNREC, and that DNREC is focused on the issue here in Sussex. I will also work to put teeth into DNREC’s repeat offender program. If you are consistently poisoning the water we drink, you should not be given leeway, no matter how much money or power you might have. We should also be expanding the public water districts in places where it’s logical to do so. Improving the state of our drinking water infrastructure is an important part of moving our district forward. A lack of action will result in declining property values, more health problems, and ultimately, increased environmental and financial costs for all of us.
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: I’ll again highlight that I’m the endorsed candidate of the leading environmental group in the state, the Delaware Sierra Club. I was also the only candidate in this race present at protests and workshops attempting to stop the current federal administration from drilling off of Delaware’s coast line. Drilling off of our coast would not only add more pollution to our waterways, it would severely hurt our tourism industry, which is obviously of the utmost importance to Sussex County. I’ll reference back to increasing DNREC’s presence in our district and putting teeth into the repeat offender program, but we also need to look at ourselves and put an end to chronic littering. I can’t tell you how many guests in our area have told me “Delaware is gorgeous, but why is there so much trash along the side of the roads?” I would like to partner with the County Council in an attempt to put more of our constable’s focus on cracking down on litterers.
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?
I’ve worked in the housing industry in Sussex County since 2003, and grew up on a farm, so I feel I’m uniquely suited to bring balance to this issue. Agriculture is the number 1 industry in Delaware, but housing is a leading provider of quality jobs, especially in Eastern Sussex County. Ultimately, we need to build in areas where it makes sense and preserve agricultural lands in areas where it makes sense. It just comes down to better planning. Another problem is that current residents are turned off as soon as they hear the words Medium Density Zoning, but the reality is that higher zoning also provides funds to the county to preserve open space and agricultural land. Logically, it also puts more people in less space, thus decreasing the demand for the land needed to house our county’s residents. Instituting a Hometown Overlay District in non-incorporated Sussex County is one possible solution to give area residents more say in what is being built around them. Hometown Overlay’s offer zoning protections to unincorporated areas, to ensure that any improvements or redevelopment is keeping in character with the area. It’s a program that has had success in New Castle County but has not been implemented in our county.
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 would not support a gas tax or mileage based tax. Put simply, it’s a regressive tax that penalizes the working and middle classes the most. Our area is sorely lacking in road improvements and infrastructure in general. In the current fiscal year, Sussex County received only 9% of DELDOT’s road improvement funds, yet we have 23% of the population and an even higher percent of the growth. As a member of the majority party in the House of Representatives who will represent the working and middle classes, I would have a much better chance than my opponent to direct more of the funds to our county. If the state needs more revenue to improve our infrastructure, I would look to implementing a homestead tax. This tax would be a property tax surcharge on all homeowners that do not reside in the State of Delaware so that average Delawareans are not burdened by more taxes. I would also ensure that revenue collected from this tax is spent in the county that produces it. If and when a homeowner becomes a resident of Delaware, the homestead tax surcharge would cease, and they would revert back to the normal property tax rate.
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: First, we have to remove the regulation that precludes districts from planning for growth when new schools are constructed or current schools are renovated. Capital improvement decisions should always be left up to the community. It’s next to impossible to build new schools without support from the community. I am of the opinion that the community will be missing out on opportunities to move the area forward if we don’t properly invest in our public education system. On a state level, we do have to direct more funding for inside the classrooms to districts that are lacking it. Every child in our state should have access to the same resources, no matter their socio-economic background or zip code. The reality is that the districts that struggle with funding the most are districts with a high level of kids at poverty level and kids that are English language learners. We should be weighting those children in the funding formula used by the state to determine a district’s funding. This would especially benefit the Milford School District.
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: When logical, we should absolutely be working to add bike lanes and pedestrian lanes to our upcoming infrastructure projects. It should not be an afterthought during the planning stage for major improvement project. Millennials and Generation Z are showing an increased desire to live in areas that have multimodal transportation infrastructure in place. We all want Delaware, and Sussex County in particular, to be a place that thrives in the future, not a place that failed to adapt to the times. Instead of starting from a viewpoint of “we can’t do that”, we need to start looking at projects such as this from the viewpoint of “how can we make this work.” There are certainly obstacles, the amount of rural roads in Sussex for one, but obstacles are meant to be cleared, not avoided.