Local incumbents unscathed
Newark legislators re-elected; Smith wins District 22 open seat
The greater Newark area’s representation in Dover will look largely the same in Januar y as it has for the past two years.
All eight of the region’s incumbent state legislators won re-election Tuesday, as did County Councilwoman Lisa Diller.
Meanwhile, the Republicans held on to the District 22 house seat as Michael Smith narrowly edged out Democrat Guillermina Gonzalez for the seat vacated by retiring State Rep. Joe Miro.
District 22 encompasses an area to the northeast of Newark, including North Star and parts of Pike Creek.
Smith earned 50.6 percent of the vote, eclipsing Gonzalez by just 140 votes.
“I think I’m still in a little bit of shock about it,” Smith said Wednesday.
He noted that it’s a hard time to be a Republican, especially in New Castle County, but added it was his goal to run as a middle-ofthe-road candidate.
Throughout the day – spent in the dreary weather outside the polls for 13 hours – Smith said he went back and forth in confidence.
Considering how other statewide races turned blue, Smith credits his win to the hours spent connecting with
people – be that at the grocery store on Sundays, through meetand-greets or by door knocking.
“It wasn’t just one thing,” he said. “It was a collection of things.”
He recalled how someone noted that he didn’t have the word Republican visible on his campaign signs; he said he hadn’t thought about it.
“I’m running to represent everybody, not a single group of people,” he said.
A Pike Creek native and a graduate of Wilmington Christian School and the University of Delaware, Smith 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.
While he was campaigning, Smith noted he was interested in seeing vocational and workforce development programs in schools, as well as growing Delaware’s economy.
“We have a great opportunity to reinvent what we are and talk about what we want to be when we grow up,” he said in a previous interview. “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. With his election, he hopes to expand that model, starting by piloting a program for a segment of state employees.
Gonzalez noted that she respected Smith.
“When we started our campaigns we promised that they would end with a handshake and a glass of wine,” she wrote in a prepared statement. “Now I look forward to working with him and all the people of the 22nd district to keep the conversation going, find and increase our common understanding of the challenges we all face, and work together to build solutions.”
Smith thanked his opponent for a “hard fought race” that was run solely on the issues.
He also thanked Miro for spending time knocking on doors with him.
“He’s a good mentor and I’m hoping to be half as good as a representative as he was, because he’s been a great representative for our district,” said Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Miro in the 2014 primary.
“I’m looking for ward to representing the district and getting started,” he continued. “I’m excited to dive in.”
10th Senate District
Hoping to continue her environmental initiatives, incumbent State Sen. Stephanie Hansen kept her seat in District 10, beating out Republican candidate Christine Metzing to earn her first full term.
District 10 encompasses the southern part of Newark and extends south to parts of Glasgow and Middletown.
Hansen won with 62 percent of the votes.
“We are all so excited. I am so honored and humbled to be able to continue my work,” she said.
Hansen looked back on her yearand-a-half in office with hope for her new term.
“I was moving forward all the time,” she said. “You never know when it’s all going to end. I knew I had to do as much good for as many people in the shortest amount of time possible.”
A lawyer focusing on environmental and land-use law, Hansen served as president of New Castle County Council from 1997 to 2001. She re-entered politics in 2017 when she won a special election to fill out the remainder of Bethany Hall-Long’s term.
A resident of the Lakeside neighborhood in Middletown, Hansen created a committee to study the loss of native species in Delaware and plans to continue to work on efforts to ban the sale of invasive plant species.
While campaigning, Hansen noted her interest in increasing insurance coverage for treatment to help combat the opioid epidemic. With her election, she hopes to focus on improving job training programs for prisoners, which has been successful in reducing recidivism.
For now, she is ready to answer the call of her constituents.
“They’re sending a message of rejection on the current federal administration,” she said.
11th Senate District
Incumbent State Sen. Bryan Townsend cruised to victory against his Republican challenger Daniel Kapitanic, securing his seat for another term in the District 11 race.
District 11 encompasses an area southeast of Newark, including Brookside, Scottfield and Todd Estates, and also extends to parts of Bear.
Townsend took the seat with 76 percent of votes.
“I’m very grateful for the support. It’s a strong message from my constituents,” he said. “I’ve been a continuous presence in my district, and I’ve been legislatively active. I think that’s what constituents are really looking for.”
Townsend, an attorney from the Timber Farms neighborhood, was first elected in 2012 after upsetting longtime incumbent Anthony J. DeLuca. After serving a redistricting-shortened, two-year term, he was re-elected for a full term in 2014.
“At a time when people are looking for no-nonsense politicians, even if they don’t agree on the issues, that’s what they have in me,” Townsend said previously.
Townsend hopes to address what he sees as inequalities in the way infrastructure and schools are funded. While growing areas, like Middletown, get funding for new school buildings, older neighborhoods, like those Townsend represents, are left out, and these disparities, he said, are unfair.
Townsend is looking forward to the chance to continue serving, he said Tuesday night.
“This is a new slate, which is room for more progress,” he continued. “When people re-elect you, it sends a signal to continue advocating.”
21st House District
Of the Newark area’s legislators, Republican State Rep. Mike Ramone had the biggest scare, beating his Democratic opponent by just four percentage points.
Ramone won 52 percent of the votes compared to newcomer Stephanie Barry’s 48 percent to retain the District 21 seat he has held since 2008.
District 21 encompasses an area northeast of Newark from around Paper Mill Road to Limestone Road and Kirkwood Highway.
A moderate who even drew endorsements from some Democrats, such as former State Sen. Karen Peterson, Ramone was able to avoid getting washed away by the blue wave that swept Delaware and picked off two prominent GOP legislators.
As part of the minority party, Ramone previously said that he often works with people across the aisle to accomplish his goals. He has sat on several house committees, including the Joint Sunset Committee; Economic Development, Banking, Insurance and Commerce, Housing and Community Affairs, Revenue and Finance, Veterans Affairs and Labor committees.
Now re-elected, Ramone wants to continue to support small businesses, reduce state spending and reduce regulatory overlays. He also wants to use his experience to help support new representatives, as he was supported by peers when he was first elected.
Neither Ramone nor Barry could be reached for comment Tuesday night.
23rd House District
Incumbent Democrat Paul Baumbach was uncontested in Tuesday’s election.
The financial advisor from the Country Hills neighborhood of Newark was first elected in 2012.
District 23 covers the northern half of Newark and extends north to Corner Ketch Road.
24th House District
State Rep. Ed Osienski emerged victorious in District 24, easily defeating Republican newcomer William Dilks.
District 24 encompasses several neighborhoods in eastern Newark – including Fountainview, White Chapel and Stafford – as well as Brookside, Scottfield, Chestnut Hill Estates and other surrounding areas.
Osienski, a Democrat, earned 69 percent of the vote compared to Dilks’ 31 percent.
Osienski said Tuesday night he is thrilled.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’m happy to provide my services to my constituents. This sends a clear
A poll worker opens the election booth curtain for a voter at Aetna Fire Station 7 on Tuesday afternoon.
Voters head into the polling place at the George Wilson Center on Tuesday afternoon.
A poll worker opens the door for a voter at Brookside Elementary School on Tuesday evening.
State Rep. Ed Osienski greets voters outside GaugerCobbs Middle School on Tuesday evening.
A voter checks in at the polling place at Aetna Fire Station 7 on Tuesday afternoon.
Voters leave the polling place at Maclary Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.