Remember Kent County? Remember Dover Hardware, Sears Roebuck & Co., and the Dover Newsstand on Loockerman Street? Remember Fleischer's Bakery? My parents and grandparents would meet and have dinner at the Village Inn or the Coral Reef in Little Creek. Or, sometimes it would be the Dinner Bell Inn, where my Aunt used to work. I used to love browsing for books in Waldenbooks or B. Dalton books in the Blue Hen Mall before they closed; before the Blue Hen Mall closed. Atlantic Books was another great place to wander through the isles, before they closed. Acorn Books made a great attempt to feed the minds of Dover from Gateway West, before they closed and moved near Smyrna.
Now we have big box stores, sprawl, and congestion. Now the Dover Mall is filled with storefronts with signs that say: "Coming Soon" that soon enough say "Closing Soon". The character and charm I grew up with has been replaced with pawn shops, used car lots, vacant store fronts, payday loans and too many other signs that Kent County is simply not thriving.
Someone I respect said economic development means 'keeping what you have, helping them grow, and by doing those things that help existing businesses you can attract more to the area'. It's too tempting to chase the shiny objects. Too many Delaware tax dollars have chased too many shiny objects. I will support our small business owners and make decisions on Levy Court that help them grow and stay in our area.
We all need to have a say in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan. It must be a reflection of the residents' priorities. My campaign Facebook page will track the Plan's progress - try to start and maintain a dialog for us to help Kent County staff get the input they need before it's published in fall 2018. More importantly, I will be a commissioner who respects that plan and will not vote against those priorities when proposals are presented.
We need close partnerships between the County and the City of Dover and the small towns in the 2nd District. I will be an advocate for funding Downtown Development Grants funds at the county-level to supplement the State's funds. This has worked well for Wilmington, Dover, Seaford and Smyrna - let's keep up the momentum! Revitalization and crime reduction are critical to supporting economic development.
The county will change over time -- for better or for worse -- not based on a single, major decision but on hundreds of zoning, tax, planning, contracting, and personnel decisions made by commissioners over months and years. I have the breadth and depth of experience to make such decisions. I've succeeded in leadership positions for more than 25 years, making tough calls on military justice, personnel administration, civil engineering, budget & finance, operations, and technical management.
I have been listening to - and will continue to listen to - residents, small business owners, and county department personnel. This approach is critical to remaining grounded in the real issues facing the county. This is the common sense way to make informed decisions with lasting, beneficial impacts for the citizens of Kent County.