Newcomer challenging State Rep. Osienski in District 24
With several months to go before the July filing deadline, incumbent State Rep. Ed Osienski is already facing a Republican challenger for his District 24 seat.
William “Bill” Dilks Sr., a 63-year-old resident of Chestnut Hill Estates, filed to challenge Osienski last week, just one day after the incumbent Democrat filed his own reelection paperwork. If no one else files before the July 10 deadline, the two will not have to participate in the September primary and will instead face off in the November general election.
The 24th district represents several neighborhoods in eastern Newark – including Fountainview, White Chapel and Stafford – as well as Brookside, Scottfield, Chestnut Hill Estates and other surrounding neighborhoods.
For Dilks, this assembly run will be his first experience with politics. The son of a school teacher and an electrical engineer, Dilks said he was raised with “high morals and a solid grounding,” two things that he sees as almost nonexistent in Dover these days.
“I intend to get to Dover and stir the pot. I like to use the term — without meaning it in a harsh way — that some people just need to be taken to the woodshed and straightened out on what’s right these days,” said Dilks, who has promised to bring common sense and decency back to Dover. “Somebody needs to get down there and affect some change and get Delaware back on track with what’s right and what’s decent. Enough is enough.”
A New Jersey native, Dilks has lived in the area since 2003 and began his career as a full-time musician, having attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He currently works as a jazz organ artist as well as a piano and organ instructor. However, he spent much of his career in information technology and project management, retiring from BlueCross BlueShield of Delaware in July 2016 after 30 years.
If elected, Dilks said, much of his work would be focused on the areas of education, jobs and crime, particularly the opioid crisis. While he has yet to finalize his education platform, Dilks said he’s been doing a lot of research on the Christina School District and plans to formulate some views on this in the next few weeks. However, Dilks said he’s been disappointed with some of the statistics he’s seen from CSD and statewide.
Dilks also hopes to tackle crime and said convicted criminals too often end up back on the street. In addition, Dilks also wants to push what he believes will likely be an unpopular position: forced rehab for drug addicts.
“I don’t know of one fully recovered drug addict that wants to go back to the drug life. So that tells me, and the research I’ve done so far tells me, that a forced rehab is an option,” he said. “That’s not going to be popular, but it becomes an illness and society is paying the price for it. And if society’s paying the price then society has a need to act.”
Jobs will be another major focus for Dilks. He noted that while the economy continues to tick upward, Delaware has not been a part of that improvement. In order to do that, Dilks wants to see more support for small businesses, he said.
Osienski, a 59-year-old retired union sprinkler fitter, was first elected in 2010 after the retirement of longtime representative Bill Oberle. He ran unopposed in 2012 and 2014 and in 2016 defeated Republican Timothy Conrad, a transit supervisor at the University of Delaware, to retain his seat. Osienski previously lived in Scottfield but plans to get married later this year and move to a larger house in Christina Brace, off Salem Church Road.
“I have been privileged to serve the residents of our community, and I hope to continue working for my neighbors and providing excellent constituent services,” Osienski said in a release. “I take great pride in being responsive to the concerns residents raise and pushing for positive changes to improve the lives of people in our community and throughout the state.”
In announcing his re-election bid, Osienski touted his work with the Food Bank of Delaware as well as legislation he has sponsored, such as providing “breakfast after the bell” for students, strengthening Delaware’s background check law for firearm purchases by closing the “Charleston Loophole,” and providing economic development opportunities to create good-paying jobs.
Osienski serves on the board for the Newark Senior Center, is active with the Brookside Lions Club and serves on the DowDuPont community advisory panel and the Workforce Development Board.