Bunting and Mitchell face off for Senate

by Michael Short on September 5, 2010

By Michael Short

Long-time Senator George H. Bunting Jr. will face a Democratic primary challenge on Sept. 14 from Ocean View Town Councilman Perry Mitchell.

It’s a battle pitting a respected political veteran against a relative newcomer for the 20th Senatorial District seat. Bunting, of Bethany Beach, is an insurance agent and former state representative, who has worked with six governors.

He is known for strong support of the concerns of manufactured home tenants. He has also argued in support of increased numbers of police and has been a very strong advocate for the replacement of the old Indian River Inlet Bridge.

Mitchell, of Ocean View, has served for two years as an Ocean View Town Councilman and for four years on the Ocean View Planning and Zoning Commission. Before that, he spent many years as a political science professor before retiring from Northern Virginia Community College. He teaches part time at Wilmington College.

Both men stress jobs, education and helping small businesses as key issues for both Sussex County and the State of Delaware. Both men support protecting manufactured housing homeowners and becoming ready for emerging industries like wind power.

One significant difference is on the issue of the Del Pointe Casino, which has been proposed for a site just north of Millsboro. Mitchell supports the idea. Bunting opposes it.

Both men say they will be supportive of manufactured home tenants. Bunting has been known for that for years. Mitchell says he supports a manufactured homeowner bill of rights to deal with many of those issues.

Mitchell and Bunting are both strong supporters of education.

Mitchell said Del Tech should offer more technology jobs and that we need to have fewer discipline issues and more motivated teachers. He said his background in education and political science gives him needed skills for the Senate.

“Our schools need a lot of help,” he said. “We have to give our students a world class education.”

“Jobs, jobs and more jobs. That is what Sussex County needs,” Mitchell said. “I am running because we need to change our local economy and invest in meaningful jobs for our citizens. I propose to do that by creating a wind industry here and bringing wind investment to Sussex County.”

Mitchell said he has met with NRG officials about wind energy development and will meet with them again. “I would meet . . . after primary day to discuss more details about bringing jobs to Sussex County,” he said.

Mitchell said we need to make sure people make a livable wage, that Delmarva Power is held accountable for rate increases and that small businesses receive tax credits.

He formed Consumers for Alternate Power in 2006 in response to Delmarva Power’s rate hikes. He said he would have supported a measure to establish a minimum wage for tipped employees.

He estimates that a wind park and Del Pointe development could bring close to 500 to 1,000 jobs to this area.

“Certainly the economy is paramount with most people,” Bunting said. He said that small business creates jobs and that Delaware needs to keep regulations in check and must also make a real effort to work hand in hand with businesses to provide that help.

“There’s a lot the state can do,” he said. “You can’t just call to an agency and get a pat answer.”

He said that educating people to deal with wind, computer needs, renewable energy or similar fields will help us deal with economic problems. Providing an education in such areas will give people choices and technical skills for a global economy, Bunting said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity out there, but it is going to take educated people,” he said.

Bunting said that firefighters are having a hard time meeting rising costs. He suggested that the county consider some sort of non-resident property tax in order to help support volunteer fire companies.

Mitchell supports the Del Pointe casino because he says it could bring revenue and jobs to the area. “I think it’s an important asset,” he said.

Bunting says he’s not “crazy” about gambling and that people don’t seem to feel Del Pointe is necessary. He said the jobs created might be jobs taken from elsewhere like Harrington Raceway. “Somebody is going to lose a job for somebody else to get a job.”

Mitchell points to the differences with Bunting on Del Pointe and says that voters have a choice between a conservative Democrat (Bunting) and a progressive Democrat (Mitchell).

Bunting said the best part of his job is being able to do the little things to help constituents like cutting through red tape.

He said that Delaware can be glad that it has made strides in preserving open space and preserving farmland and that a number of measures like a balanced budget requirement are already in place to protect the future.

Recently, he’s been concerned about a breach of security that allowed the release of personal information of many senior citizens in Delaware. He said that can’t be allowed to happen.

“I feel the measure of what I am about is what I’ve done over the years,” Bunting said.

“I can work well with people and get things done,” Mitchell said.

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