Briggs King and Shade compete for 37th seat

by Michael Short on October 14, 2010

Frank Shade

Ruth Briggs King

By Michael Short

Incumbent Ruth Briggs Kings is being challenged by Frank Shade for the 37th District Representative seat.

It’s a battle of relative political newcomers and it pits Briggs King, a conservative Republican, against Shade, a Democrat perhaps best known for his strong ties to Punkin Chunkin.

Both pride themselves on their integrity and character.  Both are active in the community and neither has extensive political experience.

Briggs King is a former teacher of the year for Kent Vo-Tech and has held positions with Medlab Inc. and Baltimore Trust as well as serving as the executive vice president of the Sussex County Association of Realtors. Shade works for the county as the director of purchasing and fleet management. He was one of the first ten paramedics hired by Sussex County when it began its’ paramedic program.

Briggs King prides herself on reading every bill before casting a vote on it. It’s part of what she considers her responsibility as a legislator.

She lists her biggest priorities as the economy, jobs and spending. She said Delaware “simply has to reduce the spending.”

She voted against Delaware’s budget this year. “The $3.3 billion spending plan is nearly $214 million higher than the one it replaces – an increase of  about 6.5 percent. I voted against the budget because I believe there were not enough cuts in spending. If families have to live within their means, why shouldn’t the state of Delaware be required to do the same? That is also why I co-sponsored legislation this session that would  require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a budget in the event the state’soperation budget exceeded the rate of inflation.”

Briggs King also said that transparency in government is one of the most important issues in Delaware. “We need to be more transparent.”

Briggs King was elected last year  in a special election. She said being chosen to represent the district was “a humbling experience” and she said she prides herself on being responsive to voters and being able to think out of the box to develop solutions. “I work very hard for the people,” she said.

She replaced Joe Booth, who left the House of Representatives to fill the Senate seat held for many years by Thurman Adams.

She defined a good legislator as someone “who is very active and very engaged in your community. Someone who is very responsive to your constituents . . . You put yourself aside.”

In her first year as a legislator, she was one of the sponsors of numerous bills aimed at preventing abuses of children. The bills were all a result of the charges against alleged pedophile Dr. Earl Bradley and include a number of provisions aimed at preventing such a case from ever happening again. “I believe these bills are among the most important laws we’ll enact this year because they will provide increased communication that’ll help ensure that those responsible for these types of despicable acts in the future are exposed as early as possible.”

She supports lower taxes and said Delaware needs to review its’ state purchasing program. Delaware’s school districts also need more local control, she said.

She opposes an expansion of slot machines because she said the majority of voters in the 37th district do not support additional slots.

She points to her variety of experiences as a way to prepare for a diverse district facing serious issues. Her website says she will work to maintain local control on land use decisions and balance growth and development with individual property rights.

Some of her community work has involved the Interfaith Mission, the boys and girls club, Public Allies, the American Red Cross and the Financial Literacy Commission.

“As a freshman, I asked difficult questions and stood firm on conservative issues and fiscal responsibility,” she said on her website. “More imporantly, I have kept my promises to you and worked hard to be responsive to constituent constituents. Many constituents have learned what friends already knew –You can rely on Ruth.”

Shade is a relative newcomer to politics, but he is a well-known figure in Sussex County. He was a founder of  the Sussex County Cancer Survivors Fund, headed the Punkin Chunkin Association for years and has been very involved with the Lower Delaware Autism Foundation.

“I am not a professional politician,” he said on his website. “I believe it’s time for a working person who has been on the streets and in the trenches to help lead us out of the problems we’re facing. We need everyday people in office who know who they are and remember where they came from. We need someone who will take your issues and be like a dog with a bone and not let go.”

Shade said that he wants to restore trust and faith in government and that he is running because it is the right thing to do.

Shade said that we cannot balance the budget on gambling and said he would oppose any additional slot machines unless they are part of a larger project which provides real job growth.

A flyer from Shade says that he will fight to make government more transparent and responsible.

He said that more emphasis on vocational education is needed and that it is wrong for school districts to lay off teachers, but not to cut any administrative positions.

“Even in tough economic times, we can provide our students with the education they deserve by ensuring that funding makes its way to the classroom, where it belongs. (I ) will help keep our teachers accountable without tying them to arbitrary testing standards,” according to a campaign flyer from Shade. “Quality schools make better neighborhoods and attract new jobs to the state, so (I) will fight to strengthen our education system at every level and keep higher education attainable for all Delaware residents.”

Shade said that every candidate or incumbent will focus on the economy.  He said we need to work to bring jobs to this area and that renewable energy like wind energy is one potential area where jobs and growth can occur.

He said that economic growth is important, but that it should be done while protecting open space, strengthening communities and ensuring that infrastructure keeps up with development. He said the issue of immigration needs to be addressed, but he called for the emphasis to be placed upon dealing with immigrants that are guilty of assaults, rapes or other criminal acts.

Shade said that manufactured homeowners and landowners are often at odds and called for a fair approach to those concerns. “Negotiations can’t fall through between those two groups,” he said. “It has to be a balanced effort (that is fair for both sides).”

“We need people willing to go out and help their neighbors,” he said, saying that type of community involvement is badly needed. “That’s the kind of person I want to be. . . This is my opportunity to get involved . . . Be part of the solution.”

“I’m not going to be a mud slinger or run a negative campaign,” he said.

Like his opponent, he said he values integrity, honesty and character. He said he has no ties to special interest groups and has returned campaign contributions.  “It has to start one person at a time. . . Everything you’ve done in your past has made you who you are today.”

When asked what he would say to voters, he said “be part of the solution. Get out and vote.”

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