Delaware is my home. It is the state where I was born and raised and where I have chosen to bring up my own family. My hope for all Delawareans is that we can aspire to and achieve the level of opportunity for our children that I experienced growing up here.
My formative childhood revolved around the Avenue Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. For nearly thirty years, my parents ran the Avenue, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner year round and hiring hundreds of workers over that time and serving tens of thousands of customers.
I got to witness first-hand the opportunity that the restaurant created not just for my family but for the people who either began or made their careers there. Like many of them, I bussed tables, made coleslaw and clam chowder, shucked corn and peeled potatoes, rolled dough and prepared pie crusts, and washed dishes and scrubbed pots (which I still do well now if you ask my wife, Liz).
As a young adolescent, however, I can also distinctly remember that the late 1970s were uncertain times for our country. We had gas shortages, a Cold War in full swing and a hostage crisis in the Middle East. Overshadowed by these national concerns and unbeknownst to me as a teenager was just how precarious was our situation in Delaware. By the end of the decade, our state government was in terrible financial straits – our then Governor, Pete du Pont, declared us bankrupt!
This was a critical moment for Delaware, and our elected leaders rose to the occasion. Not only did they face and meet our fiscal challenges, they laid down structural reforms to our most basic financial systems that would usher in a generation of good governance and prosperity for Delawareans. I lived through and benefitted by those actions; I grew up in a state knowing great opportunity.
Forty years on, we need to find that same resolve again. While we are not bankrupt, nor do we face an imminent fiscal crisis, our position as a top tier state has eroded and our financial trajectory threatens to undermine the future available to the next generation of Delawareans.
We can reverse this trend and remake Delaware into a state of greater opportunity for all. These efforts may not solve every problem we face today in education, healthcare, safety and infrastructure, but it will move our state forward, ensuring that our next generation has the resources to do so.
Whatever your roots, I think that is a vision upon which we all can agree and on which we should act.
As your State Treasurer, I discovered a role where my purpose to make a difference and career in finance intersected in a place very near and dear to me – my home state.Ken Simpler
Former State Treasurer of Delaware
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