Voters in north Milford and Frederica will cast their ballots Nov. 6 in the race for Delaware House of Representatives in District 33.
Democrat John Kevin Robbins is challenging Republican incumbent Harold "Jack" Peterman for the seat.
We asked each candidate the same four questions and included their answers below:
Why are you running for state representative?
Robbins: I am a hardworking family man, who thinks it's time for middle class, sensible people, like me, to be heard. The people of the 33rd Representative District deserve clear and focused representation in Dover. We need reasonable, common sense, solutions to our current problems and I will bring a "no nonsense" approach to creating a brighter future for our families.
Peterman: In my first term, I successfully co-sponsored bills cutting the gross receipts tax and the state personal income tax. I also proposed legislation to eliminate the state's so-called "death tax" and to withdraw Delaware from a regional carbon dioxide "cap and trade" control program that's needlessly pushing electricity costs higher even though changes in the energy market have already reduced pollution beyond the program's goals. As a life-long, local resident and a retired farmer, I am familiar with the challenges our community faces. I hope I have earned the trust of the people of 33rd District and that they continue to place their faith in me as their state representative.
How do you feel you can better represent the voters in District 33 than your opponent?
Robbins: As a farmer and small business owner, I have worked hard every day to ensure that my family is provided for and their needs are met. I will bring this same passion to Dover. We need a commitment to strengthening our economy, maintaining our schools' top quality, and protecting our land so we can leave it to our children. I promise to uphold that commitment for this district now, and in the future.
Peterman: Without detracting from my opponent, I have more experience in elected office and have a proven track record of accomplishment. I have previously served this community as both a Kent County Levy Court Commissioner and Kent County Levy Court President. As the first-term incumbent 33rd District state representative, I have proven capable of serving my constituents, living up to my promises, and effectively discharging the duties of this office.
What do you feel are the most important issues facing the district and how will you address them?
Robbins: As a small business owner, I know small business is the backbone of the 33rd District. Our decisions in Dover can help small businesses weather these economic times. I believe we should extend more credit to viable small businesses and I will pass tax incentives for small businesses to hire Delawareans. Our education system has vastly improved over the past few years. Delaware won the national Race to the Top competition which has allowed for more innovative educational techniques. We are lucky to have talented and motivated teachers and they are the best resource we have to improve our schools. We need to listen to them, and bring their thoughts to the table. My family has been farming since we settled in Delaware in the late 1600's. I know our environment must be a top priority. We must preserve our land to continue to use it. As the only working farmer in the House of Representatives, I will work hard to protect agriculture in Delaware. We need to continue to invest in open space and farmland preservation. I also believe we need to continue looking for alternate sources of energy and protect our ground water.
Peterman: According to federal statistics, Delaware has the 13th highest residential electricity rate in the nation, the 13th highest commercial rate and seventh highest residential average monthly bill. This isn't the fault of the co-op or Delmarva Power, but rather misguided state policies that are driving-up costs. Major employers in our area – like First State Manufacturing, Baltimore Air Coil, and Perdue – are also major power consumers. The cost of electricity is one of their top expenses and escalating rates are hurting their competitiveness and ability to create jobs. I have made, and will continue to champion, numerous proposals to prudently re-focus our state's energy policy.
What do you feel are the most important issues facing the state as a whole and how do you plan to address them?
Robbins: My family and I have always had to live within our means and I have worked hard to get what I have. Under good leadership, the State has done a better job of living within its means by balancing its budget. We can always do better. We need to ensure that we are not wasting taxpayers' dollars, and that we are being good stewards of their hard work.
Peterman: The top issue is employment. I think our state development officials are too pre-occupied with trying to lure big businesses to New Castle County venues, like the Bloom fuel cell facility and the failed Fisker Automotive plant. I believe we need to focus our efforts on growing existing small businesses, as well as attracting new start-up ventures to locations throughout Delaware, that hold the promise of positive growth and new employment. We also need to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that are shackling job creation.