Commentary: Making the future in the 36th District and Delaware brighter
My name is Bryan Shupe. I am a husband, a father, a longtime community volunteer, a business owner and the former two-term mayor of Milford. I am running for state representative because I have learned how to build a partnership between communities, businesses and government that involves everyone, and increases the quality of life for all people.
Recently, my opponent wrote an editorial in these pages in which he described all of the things that he thinks are wrong with the 36th District. Frankly, I disagree. I think our future here is very bright.
In addition, my opponent called for lots of higher taxes - which he’s done often in this campaign - in order to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending. But the truth is, Delaware is already one of the highest-spending states per capita, and as you may have seen, our results are less than impressive. But to people like my opponent, the solution to all of society’s problems is more money. There is never enough of other people’s money - your money - to spend on a new government program that probably won’t work.
I have a different mind-set. As mayor of Milford, we balanced four budgets and still delivered high-quality services without increasing taxes. When we had a problem, we came together, worked on it together, and did our best to fix it - together. We weren’t perfect, but we cleaned up our water system, improved our roads and set in place a plan for growth. We worked alongside our current businesses and grew our economy while bringing in high-paying jobs, like the new Bayhealth Sussex Campus.
When people in our vulnerable communities were found to be living in substandard housing, we strengthened our code to force property owners to make changes. My opponent has no experience doing any of that. In fact, he appears to have no history of serving our community in any way in the few years that he’s lived here.
My opponent likes to play more class warfare by pitting Cape schools against Milford. Again, in his mind, it’s all about money. But I see a different kind of resource here in Milford - great people. Our teachers, support professionals and administrators have built a successful culture that recently led to Milford High School being rated in the top five in the state by US News.
I do not agree with turning over funding of our schools to the same state government that performs so poorly across so many measures. I believe in local control and giving our schools the ability to adapt to local needs within each school district. In addition to increasing the quality of our great local schools, we need to focus on vocational education and training, providing opportunities for our local residents to compete in this evolving economy.
Investments in education and training of our local workforce, through community partners such as Delaware Technical Community College, University of Delaware and Delaware State University, will drive the desire for current employers to expand and new employers to relocate in Sussex County. Economic development incentives can be a useful tool to attract more businesses to our area, but long-term investments and planning in education of our local workforce will create an environment where businesses are asking us what they can do to create jobs here.
Another note on my opponent’s plans is creating more vehicles for taxation so that everyone can have “free” healthcare and college while increasing taxes.
This sounds great, but we have all seen how this movie ends. The problem is, even the massive tax increases my opponent is pushing wouldn’t put a dent in the spending he wants to do. And when the government comes knocking on the door of the middle class and the working class, saying that they too need to pay more in taxes, suddenly, “free” means something totally different.
Our financial problems in the State of Delaware do not come from a revenue problem but a lack of leadership to create long-term fiscal policies to steady resources in a moving economy. In 2017 lawmakers cut 20 percent of critical services like local volunteer fire companies and senior centers while increasing taxes. This was done as a “sky is falling” scenario played out in Dover over a loss of $400 million in state revenue.
This year the State generated an additional $800 million just months after the “state of the economy” was used as a political move to cut our local programs and raise taxes on all Delawareans. This could have been prevented with long-term, smart fiscal policies like we created in Milford to protect taxpayer money.
Don’t fall for the deceit of those who would divide us by race or class or gender. My opponent is correct about one thing: we need a candidate for the people – all people. My campaign is about everyone. We have succeeded in Milford, together. Our problems, both locally and statewide, are complex and complicated. Simply throwing money at them won’t get it done. But together, we will succeed in making the future in the 36th District and Delaware brighter - for all of us.