Schwartzkopf’s speaker run worthy of recognition

July 7, 2023

Pete Schwartzkopf has been a constant in a county full of change over the last 21 years. First elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 2002, Schwartzkopf has represented the people of Rehoboth Beach — and a little bit of Lewes — in the 14th District consistently over the last two decades. Elected as majority leader in 2009 and speaker of the House in 2012, Schwartzkopf has long held power over a House dominated by upstate Democrats, often serving as Sussex County’s lone Democrat representative. 

Through his role as speaker, Schwartzkopf has fought for the residents of Sussex County while carefully working with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass important pieces of legislation. That bipartisan approach was nowhere more evident than when he made public appearances with former legislators Rep. Steve Smyk and Sen. Ernie Lopez, two Republicans. Their chummy relationship led people to nickname the trio the Three Amigos. 

Schwartzkopf navigated the House through many significant and controversial issues, including legalization of gay marriage in 2013 and legalization of recreational marijuana just this year. He also tackled many other notable issues such as voting rights, gun reform and women’s rights. He ushered the House through the COVID-19 pandemic — not an easy task. He’s also been front and center in the efforts to alleviate transportation and traffic problems in the Cape Region. 

He will now take a step back, passing the gavel to Democrat Valerie Longhurst of Bear, the majority leader since 2012. Longhurst will be the state’s first female speaker, heading an all-female leadership team for the Democrats. 

In announcing the leadership change, Schwartzkopf said he’d like to spend more time with his family. After a 25-year career with the Delaware State Police and a two-decade run as a legislator, he’s more than earned the right to relax. While he has one more year to serve, he’ll do it without the weight and stress that accompanies the speaker position. If he decides his time is up at the end of his term, he can bow out proud of his accomplishments, knowing he did what he thought was best for the people of Sussex County and Delaware.


  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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