Gon­za­lez, Smith com­pet­ing for open District 22 house seat

Newark Post - - ELECTION PREVIEWS - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Demo­crat Guiller­mina Gon­za­lez and Repub­li­can Michael Smith are run­ning to re­place the re­tir­ing State Rep. Joe Miro in District 22.

The district en­com­passes an area to the north­east of Ne­wark, in­clud­ing North Star and parts of Pike Creek.

Born in Mex­ico, Gon­za­lez came to the United States in 2001 through her job as a mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive for ExxonMo­bile. She later left the cor­po­rate world for the non­profit sec­tor, lead­ing Voices With­out Bor­ders and later the Delaware Arts Al­liance.

In an in­ter­view, she cast her­self as a po­lit­i­cal out­sider but noted that pol­i­tics runs in her fam­ily – her grand­fa­ther once served as a gov­er­nor in Mex­ico.

“In spite of the fact I’m not a politi­cian, I re­al­ize what pol­i­tics is all about – serv­ing peo­ple,” said Gon­za­lez, a res­i­dent of Lime­stone Hills.

She de­scribed her­self as a “free agent.”

“I’m not a politi­cian, so I can ask the per­ti­nent ques­tions,” she said. “I don’t have an agenda, left or right.”

Gon­za­lez listed im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion as one of her pri­or­i­ties. She said it con­cerns her that many fam­i­lies move to Penn­syl­va­nia or send their kids to char­ter schools rather than tra­di­tional pub­lic schools.

“There’s a dis­con­nect be­tween what peo­ple ex­pect and what they re­ceive in re­gard to pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

If elected, she would like to ex­am­ine ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and make sure the money is be­ing used ef­fi­ciently, not­ing that some schools, par­tic­u­larly in the Christina School District, have low oc­cu­pancy in their build­ings.

“Why is that hap­pen­ing?” she asked. “Can we im­ple­ment some ef­fi­cien­cies?”

Gon­za­lez also wants to fo­cus on help­ing small busi­nesses, adding that the state needs to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture and help foster more con­nec­tions be­tween busi­nesses and lo­cal col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.

“De­pend­ing on large cor­po­ra­tions is long gone,” she said, not­ing she be­lieves her busi­ness back­ground will help her tackle such is­sues.

Smith is a Pike Creek na­tive and a grad­u­ate of Wilm­ing­ton Chris­tian School and the Univer­sity of Delaware. He works as Di­rec­tor of Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives and Part­ner­ships at the Univer­sity of Delaware’s Col­lege of Health Sciences. Pre­vi­ously, he was the di­rec­tor of the now-de­funct Greater Ne­wark Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Part­ner­ship, which was a part­ner­ship be­tween City of Ne­wark, the Univer­sity of Delaware and the New Cas­tle County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Smith un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Miro in the 2014 pri­mary. He also ran Mered­ith Chap­man’s state se­nate cam­paign in 2016 and at one time worked for Rep. Mike Cas­tle. He said he and his wife, Christy, feel the state needs a new di­rec­tion and de­cided he should throw his hat in the ring.

“We don’t like the way the state is headed and fig­ured we’d show our boys what ser­vice is,” Smith said.

The 33-year-old res­i­dent of the Vil­lage of Meet­ing House Hill said it’s time for a younger gen­er­a­tion to help guide Delaware.

“We need to have new lead­ers,” he said. “We need to have peo­ple step up.”

Smith said he would like to see more vo­ca­tional and work­force de­vel­op­ment pro­grams in schools and added that busi­nesses need to be more in­volved with ed­u­ca­tion.

“We’re not com­pet­i­tive any­more. We keep com­pet­ing with each other rather than other states,” he said, re­fer­ring to ten­sion be­tween char­ter schools and tra­di­tional pub­lic schools.”

Mean­while, Delaware needs to turn its at­ten­tion to grow­ing its econ­omy, he said.

“We have a great op­por­tu­nity to rein­vent what we are and talk about what we want to be when we grow up,” he said. “We’ve dealt with so many so­cial is­sues but we’re for­get­ting about the econ­omy.”

Smith said UD’s Col­lege of Health Sciences, which fo­cuses on pre­ven­ta­tive care, is a model for what health­care should be. If elected, he said, he would work to ex­pand that model, start­ing by pi­lot­ing a pro­gram for a seg­ment of state em­ploy­ees.



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