Elec­tion pre­view

Meet the can­di­dates in Tues­day’s elec­tion

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

State Rep. John Kowalko is seek­ing his sev­enth term in District 25 but first must sur­vive a chal­lenge from po­lit­i­cal new­comer Bryan Rash on Tues­day.

District 25 en­com­passes the south­ern half of Ne­wark, from Main Street down to just south of Old Bal­ti­more Pike and from the state line west to South Chapel Street.

Rash, a 55-year-old Repub­li­can, lives on Old Cooch’s Bridge Road and has owned an auto re­pair busi­ness for the last 10 years.

He said he de­cided to run for of­fice be­cause he doesn’t like the di­rec­tion state pol­i­tics is go­ing.

“Most of my life, Delaware has pretty much been down the mid­dle re­gard­less of what party you’re part of. You never had to worry it would go too far one way or too far the other way,” Rash said. “But I started see­ing it go too far over the past cou­ple years.”

He said im­prov­ing the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem would be his first pri­or­ity.

“We need to look at what schools are do­ing things right, what things are not do­ing well and how can we im­ple­ment the good things across the board and how can we solve some of the neg­a­tive prob­lems,” he said. “Is it one so­lu­tion that fixes all? No. It’s a very large ship; it’s go­ing to take a long time to turn around.”

One of his ideas is to in­cen­tivize day care cen­ters to bet­ter ed­u­cat­ing young chil­dren so they are bet­ter pre­pared for kinder­garten.

Rash said he can do a bet­ter job build­ing re­la­tion­ships than the of­ten-out­spo­ken Kowalko.

“We haven’t re­ally had what I con­sider good rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the 25th District for quite a few years,” he said. “When you are con­stantly blast­ing peo­ple in pub­lic, how do you get peo­ple to work with you? It can cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where you can’t be very ef­fec­tively do­ing what needs to get done as a leg­is­la­tor. I just feel we can do a whole lot bet­ter.”

Kowalko, a re­tired union ma­chin­ist and com­mu­nity ac­tivist who lives on Kells Av­enue, was first elected in 2006, de­feat­ing long­time in­cum­bent Stephanie Ulbrich. The Demo­crat has de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing un­afraid to ruf­fle feath­ers, even in his own party.

“The only spe­cial in­ter­est I’m com­mit­ted to serv­ing is the peo­ple,” Kowalko said. “Peo­ple say, ‘You’re out there too far.’ Hell, I haven’t even got­ten started.”

He ac­cused Rash of run­ning a neg­a­tive cam­paign in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the is­sues, which he said is a “wasted op­por­tu­nity” be­cause the best part of hav­ing an op­po­nent is get­ting to have an ex­change of ideas.

“It’s dis­re­spect­ful to run your en­tire cam­paign with neg­a­tiv­ity,” he said.

Kowalko said that if re­elected, he would con­tinue work­ing on im­prov­ing gov­ern­ment trans­parency by in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to re­form the state’s LLC li­cens­ing pro­ce­dures and once again hopes to re­move the Univer­sity of Delaware’s Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act ex­emp­tion.

“I think I’m get­ting closer,” he said, pre­dict­ing the FOIA leg­is­la­tion would pass if the house lead­er­ship al­lows it to get to the floor.

Kowalko said in­creas­ing fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion re­mains a pri­or­ity as well.

“We’re starv­ing the sys­tem to death,” he said, adding that, if re-elected, he plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing char­ter schools to re­turn any un­used trans­porta­tion fund­ing to the state, a move that he es­ti­mates would save $1.25 mil­lion to $1.5 mil­lion each year.

Kowalko also hopes to hold a hear­ing on the much­bal­ly­hooed Bloom En­ergy deal, which has al­ready cost Del­marva Power cus­tomers $200 mil­lion and is ex­pected to cost ratepay­ers an­other $700 mil­lion by 2033.



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