State Representative District 33 incumbent Harold “Jack” Peterman, 71, will go head-to-head with fellow Republican Charles Postles, 65, in the Republican primary Sept. 9. The victorious GOP member will advance to the general election Nov. 4 for a race against Democrat John Kevin Robbins, 50, who ran for the same seat in 2012.
Regardless of the turnout in this year’s general election, Kent County voters are guaranteed to have a farmer representing them in the 33rd District. All three candidates are in agriculture.
Incumbent Harold “Jack” Peterman, 71, will go head-to-head with fellow Republican Charles Postles, 65, in the Republican primary Sept. 9. The victorious GOP member will advance to the general election Nov. 4 for a race against Democrat John Kevin Robbins, 50, who ran for the same seat in 2012.
Despite differing parties and opinions on policy, the three candidates have two goals in common: enhancing the economy and bringing jobs to their Kent County constituents.
Peterman, a retired farmer living in Milford, has held his office for four years and said he wonders if enough is being done to bring jobs to the district – which includes Bowers Beach, Frederica and parts of Milford, Houston and Magnolia.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
“You’re always hearing about raising taxes, but we never talk about lowering taxes,” he said. “If we would just look at the state of Delaware and just consider going back and looking at what we could do to cut taxes, I think that’s one of the major things we could do to help the state of Delaware. Just cut taxes.”
Postles, a Milford resident, said the effort to bring more, better jobs needs to start at home.
“An intact family is the strongest economic building block that there is,” he said. “If there’s an intact family, it’s been proven time and time again that the parents have the best income, the students have the best academic achievement, graduation rates, and they in turn have the higher income jobs and highest family income.”
A poultry farmer, Postles said there also needs to be a change in Delaware’s electric rates and how state government handles its money.
He suggested bringing a natural gas pipeline to Delaware to power additional electric-generating plants in the state.
“That would reduce natural gas prices and reduce the electric cost, which affects everybody,” he said.
Postles and Robbins said Delaware’s debt has put a burden on residents and negatively affected the economy because people are reluctant to spend money when taxes are going up but their income is not.
Robbins, a Harrington resident, said the main issue with taxes is that people are upset with how their tax dollars are spent.
“People are upset in a lot of things – how they’ve spent money, money spent that went nowhere,” he said. “I think it’s time for a common sense person, and for working class people to be represented in Dover.”
Robbins, a grain and produce farmer, said he believes a focus on bringing in big business and focusing on small business, as well as a providing a cost of living increase for state workers, could improve the state of Delaware’s economy.
“My first concern is the economy,” he said. “I would hope that we could do what we can to draw big business. I have my doubts about big business – not that I don’t want it to come – I just mean it’s a tough time [to bring] any kind of big business … here. We need to do all we can to draw big business and make small business thrive.”
Robbins said the Kent County Sports complex and the south Frederica overpass are what the area needs, and that the state can’t afford to walk away from it.
In addition to the economy, jobs and state spending, Peterman believes that there needs to be a fight for the constitutional right to bear arms as well as a struggle to increase help for local veterans.
“I don’t think that we appreciate what [the veterans] are doing for us like we should,” Peterman said. “They’re laying their life on the line, what are we doing for them? We just keep taking benefits away from them. I feel that everything we’ve done for the vets, we probably should be doing more.”
Neither Postles nor Robbins discussed gun rights or veterans as their top priorities, but both mentioned the state of education and education funding as one of their priorities.
Postles, who was an active Milford School District board member from 1994 to 2003, said there is too much bureaucracy, administration and federal restraints on local school districts.
“I think we equip our teachers very well, but they’re overburdened with non-teaching requirements,” he said. “We need to let our teachers teach and just reduce the amount of administrative bureaucracy that’s involved in education.”
Robbins said Delaware’s schools need to become more competitive to keep quality teachers in state.
“Teachers are the best resource we have to help improve our education system,” he said. “We have qualified and motivated teachers here in Delaware. Their thoughts on how best to move Delaware’s education system forward must be heard.”
MEET THE CANDIDATES:
Incumbent: Harold “Jack” Peterman
Political Party: Republican
Years in Office: 4
Occupation: Retired farmer
Education: Milford High School, Class of 1961; took college courses in Georgetown, Del., Richmond, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.
Family: Sons Barry and Scott; grandchildren Remi, 3, Keith and Eric
Challenger: Charles Postles Jr.
Political Party: Republican
Previous Political Experience: Milford School Board member, 1994 to 2003; Chairman of the 33rd Republican committee, 2011 to 2014
Occupation: Independent farmer of broilers and poultry producer, 1976 to present
Education: Milford High School, Class of 1967; University of Delaware, bachelor’s degree in agriculture business management, 1972
Family: Wife, Janet; son Ben; son, Michael, of Rehoboth Beach; daughter, Deborah; and grandchildren Julia, Colin, 7, Caiden, 6; Michael;
Challenger: John Kevin Robbins
Political Party: Democrat
Previous Political Experience: 2012 candidate in 33rd District race
Occupation: Farmer and farm manager, 1979 to 2014; Milk hauler, 1998 to 2014
Education: Lake Forest High School, Class of 1981; Delaware Technical and Community College, bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, 1983
Family: Wife, Kim Zeitler Robbins; son, J.T., 22; daughter, Mary Beth, 16