Huxtable not living up to expectations

January 13, 2023

As all of us in the Cape Region knew things would be different in local politics with the well-deserved retirement of Ernie López after a decade of dedicated service in the state Senate. As a Republican who won three consecutive elections representing a district with a majority of registered Democrats, López showed that smart, consensus-building bipartisan leadership, supplemented by tremendously responsive service, would be respected not only by constituents at home but Senate colleagues in Legislative Hall.

With two months in office under his belt since Election Day when he became the new senator, Russ Huxtable has been, if anything, both absent and underwhelming, not just here in the district, but even more distressingly in Dover, where recently released committee assignments have clearly shown what his new colleagues think of his ability to lead.

While new Sen. Eric Buckson was placed on the prestigious Finance Committee and new Sen. Kyra Hoffner was appointed chair of the important Oversight and Sunset Committee, Russ ended up appointed by his own caucus leaders as chair of just one committee, Agriculture. Over the course of the entire two-year period of the past 151st General Assembly, the Agriculture Committee met on just nine occasions. For comparison sake, the Education Committee was convened over the same period on more than 20 occasions. The Health and Social Services Committee also met on more than 20 occasions. Russ is on neither of those two critical committees, leaving a voice and vote off the table for the 6th District.

To add embarrassment to insult, Russ was sold by his Eastern Sussex Democratic political handlers as a whiz kid of affordable housing solutions due to his professional work with Milford Housing Development Corporation. With all that touted experience, Russ was passed over to lead the Housing and Land Use Committee. That spot, like most others, went to yet another senator from New Castle County. Too bad for Russ and, in turn, too bad for the people of the Cape Region.

During campaign season, in a letter to the editor attacking Huxtable’s opponent Rep. Steve Smyk, Joe Pika of Lewes lectured readers on the Senate power structure and, in particular, described how senators are placed on important committees such as Finance. He said, “Party leaders appoint members because of their good judgment and willingness to solve problems in a bipartisan fashion.” As is evident in the membership listing on these committees, it must be surmised that Russ’s own party leaders didn’t feel he had either the good judgment or willingness to compromise, to solve problems in a bipartisan fashion. When given the choice in the general election, almost half the people who cast their ballots (13,319) felt the same. The harshly partisan tone of his election campaign, while successful, did not endear him to those outside his own party.

Huxtable, who is ranked last in seniority among all 21 senators, has already fallen by the wayside not just in the esteem of those whom he’ll be serving alongside, but of his constituents here at home who were sold a campaign version of a problem solver, who has turned out to be seen by many as a problem himself.

George Chambers


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