Re-election announcement on the banks of Nanticoke River
May 7, 2018
By Tony E. Windsor
Using the Nanticoke River as a backdrop, state Sen. Bryant L. Richardson made an official announcement declaring his decision to seek a second term as the senator from the 21st legislative district. Elected to the state legislature in 2014, Richardson said he purposefully chose Seaford's Riverwalk location overlooking the river in commemoration of friend and supporter Phil Livingston, who died earlier this year.
A former FBI counter-espionage agent and avid waterman, Livingston came to Seaford from New York and became a fixture in the community. Among his contributions to the Seaford area, Livingston was a founding member of BEDCO, which developed the marina and Nanticoke Yacht Club in Blades, supported the Seaford Community Concerts Association and helped to establish the annual Woodland Ferry Festival. Livingston was also a freelance photographer and writer and early supporter of the community newspaper founded by Richardson and his wife, Carol. The Richardsons' company, Morning Star Publications, publishes the Seaford Star and Laurel Star newspapers, among other publications.
Up until his death, Livingston was a full-time substitute teacher and year-round supporter of the students in the Seaford School District. His relationship with the school students was so enduring that a seat in the school's auditorium has been dedicated in his name.
In his remarks, Richardson said it was Livingston who, well into his 80s, put his support behind his first Senate campaign. "Phil Livingston made sure I was up early in the morning with him, pounding campaign signs into the ground," he said. "He was in his 80s standing on a ladder with a sledge hammer, pounding signs into the ground for me. He died in a tragic accident, right in this river during a recent storm. He was a great man and I just want to dedicate this campaign to his memory." He then offered a prayer in Livingston's honor.
Laura Rogers, a campaign supporter, introduced Richardson. Rogers worked on Richardson's previous campaign as well. Rogers, along with other family members, operates the UPS Store in Seaford. She pointed out that Richardson initially became involved in a Senate run after expressing his frustration with increased taxes being levied on small businesses.
"We understood that Bryant was not running on a whim," she said. "As a small business owner, he was tired of tax increases with no regard for those of us who were picking up the tab," she said. "Bryant ran a race that had a primary focus - no more tax increases. It's not uncommon to hear those seeking public office make promises about tax cuts and refusing to increase taxes. It is really satisfying to today to be able to tell you that in the last four years, Bryant has opposed every tax increase that has been proposed in Dover."
She added that as a new member of the state's Joint Finance Committee, Richardson is also advocating for more accountability in how tax dollars are being spent. Rogers said to provide alternatives for revenue opportunity in contrast to tax increases, Richardson sponsored 2015 legislation that created the Motion Picture and Television Development Commission to entice movie and television producers to choose Delaware as a location for their films.
Rogers also lauded Richardson for successful passage of a "human trafficking" bill that he sponsored last year and that received unanimous support in both the Senate and House. "As a result of this law, Gov. Carney and our legislators sent a clear message to those engaged in the crime of human trafficking that Delaware is determined to stop your evil trade and keep you from harming others," she said.
Seaford youth advocate and retired school district educator, coach and counselor John Hollis shared his support for Richardson's re-election bid and credited the Senator with possessing "the integrity needed in Dover." Hollis told the audience to also consider integrity in addition to the considerations of either Republican or Democratic ideologies.
"Over the next few months you will hear a lot about the initials 'R' and 'D,' but I encourage you to focus on the initial 'I.' That 'I' stands for integrity, and it is the integrity that Bryant Richardson has brought and will continue to bring to the deserving citizens of Sussex County and Delaware," Hollis said.
State Sen. Gary Simpson agreed with Hollis and said Richardson has demonstrated qualities of moral strength as a state legislator. "Bryant has been described in many different ways," he said. "He is a man of integrity, a southern gentleman and he's a nice guy. But, I tell you when it comes to matters of moral judgment, you do not want to stand in front of this guy and cross him. He will stand firm for what he believes in and pretty much 100 percent of the time he is right."
Simpson told the audience gathered that if Richardson keeps his seat, the Republican Party will need just one more seat to take the majority in the Senate.
"We have to hold this seat and cannot lose any of the 10 seats we currently hold in the Senate," he said. "Bryant was the one we needed in the last election to stop the Democrat tax bills. Now we need one more to control the rest of the Senate. I hope you will help us by keeping this guy in office."
State Rep. Danny Short echoed Simpson's comments and called this year's election a "crucial race" for the future of the Republican Party in Dover.
"You may be here for a campaign kick-off today, but make no mistake, this is a crucial race to maintain, but also perhaps move, the Senate into the majority. You may ask what that really means. That's control, that's control. There is a lack of moral high ground in Dover. Our opinions, your collective opinions, are not necessarily heard well because of the fact that we are purely in the minority. So, let's work hard to get Bryant re-elected, and vote for conservative values and let's regain the fiscal responsibility in our state and regain the high road in this state as well."
State Sen. Dave Lawson, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee with Richardson, said his friend is plain-spoken and honest.
"He doesn't shy away from those who would say he is too far right. He doesn't shy away from what is right. He stays dead-center. It is so refreshing, because let's face it, there are a lot of things in Dover that are for sale. But not Bryant. He does not deviate. You need him back in and I need him back in," Lawson said.
State Rep. Tim Dukes said that it is evident that Richardson's character plays a role in the halls of the state legislature. "It says a lot about Bryant and his character and who he is as a person when his caucus would put him on the Joint Finance Committee in his first term. This is a powerful committee that oversees a$4.3 billion budget. We need to focus our campaign not on party politics, but on integrity. When you go to Dover, what really matters is that you walk with integrity, you live with integrity and you vote with integrity. Bryant Richardson does all three of those," Dukes said.
Richardson said he is committed to ending the desire in Dover to increase taxes as a lone response to raising revenue.
"You know where my heart is and what I will work for," he said. "But, I have heard calls for tax increases while walking down the hallways in Dover. It is all about taxes, all about the complaint that we do not have enough money. Well, we do have enough money. With $4 billion to spend? I think that is enough money. But in so many areas where we are spending it there is no accountability."
Richardson said there is not enough money being put aside out of the budget to support unfunded liabilities. He said the General Assembly can spend up to 98 percent of the budget, but that's not right. "Two percent of the budget is not enough to have in a "Rainy Day Fund" to take acre of unfunded liabilities. We need to start putting more money aside going forward."
On Tuesday, May 8, on the steps of Legislative Hall, Richardson introduced the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," legislation he is sponsoring with Dukes. The legislation would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after 20 weeks.
In information about the legislation it is stated, "By eight weeks after fertilization, an unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human."
Richardson said he is also working on legislation that would require doctors to ask women if they want to see a sonogram of their fetus, or hear its heartbeat, before having an abortion.
"Women are too often simply told they are carrying a bunch of cells and not really a baby by people who are making money off abortions. Research shows that when a woman sees her baby's sonogram and hears the baby's heartbeat, 78 percent of women choose to keep their baby.
"I believe women have the right to have the opportunity to see what is inside to make that decision. They need to know that a heart is beating and blood is pumping through that little body. They need to know this is a unique human being," he said.
Richardson said he is also working to sponsor legislation in response to the "drug epidemic in Delaware." He said that some remedies coming out of Dover make no sense.
"We are losing over 300 people a year to overdoses," he said. "Some of the remedies coming out include giving drug addicts a safe place to shoot up. This insanity has got to end. We know that for every dollar spent on prevention you save $25 in treatment costs. We are spending 10's of millions of dollars on treatment, while lives are being wasted and ruined. We should put prevention programming in schools. We would spend a fraction of the money we are spending on treatment to help keep young people from making the wrong decisions about drugs."
Richardson told the audience in closing that his platform is "to honor God, respect life and preserve liberty."