PGA's Collins to challenge Atkins for 41st District seat

Rich Collins, executive director of the Positive Growth Alliance and owner of Access Insurance and Financial Services located on Route 113 between Dagsboro and Millsboro, has announced his candidacy for the 41st District state representative seat — the seat currently held by John Atkins.

Collins grew up in Seaford, and graduated from Seaford High School and the University of Delaware. He has lived in Sussex County most of his life and currently lives in Millsboro. Since 2001, he has been executive director of the Positive Growth Alliance.

Collins said the PGA focuses on prosperity and free enterprise, and works to keep taxes low and have less government. He added that “people are capable of taking care of themselves. Less government and more personal responsibility… Pretty much covers the whole concept.”

According to their Web site, the PGA is a “rapidly growing coalition of landowners, business owners, employees and their families, as well as those who are passionate about defending liberty. As a 501(c)(4) non-profit, we defend property rights and promote the benefits of free enterprise in creating economic growth. We are an influential voice to counter the anti-growth movement.”

Collins said they believe in and respect environmental issues but also believe that “some of the regulators want to regulate for the sake of regulating.”

He said that the Positive Growth Alliance has had a hand in several lawsuits — not directly, but by finding individual plaintiffs, such as for a lawsuit regarding State Resource Area Maps, which he said were intended to identify land the State might purchase as open space, but “the State expanded it way beyond that.”

Collins said the PGA organized a lawsuit, and the court ruled in their favor. He also said the PGA had a role in the lawsuit between Sussex County and the State of Delaware regarding watershed buffers, which the Supreme Court finally did rule in favor of the County, and several individual landowners, in 2011.

“We were totally victorious. [DNREC] had no right to do that in law. I am determined that state employees that are supposed to serve us follow the law, just like we are all supposed to do,” Collins stated.

He said these victories help to show that he already knows how to make a difference on issues.

“I have already had a lot of influence over the General Assembly, and I look at Sussex County government as a model. They have suffered drastic income loss and yet have not raised taxes, have a philosophy of not restricting property rights and of not adding regulations. They have even had tax rebates,” he noted. “They are in excellent, excellent financial shape and have made it a point to not raise taxes, rather to take whatever fiscal means necessary to live within their means. The state has does the opposite.”

In talking about his opponent, John Atkins, Collins said that, with the Democratic majority in the state legislature — even though the local representative has the ability to vote “however the people in his district want him to” — he said he doesn’t believe Atkins “studies the issues or tries to influence much. I have 10 years of influencing the process.”

He said that, while he believes there are too many bills proposed, he will do his best to research and understand them to be able to provide “real-time” information to constituents on those bills.

“The result [of too many bills] is they don’t understand some of what they are voting on. I have a research team to help me now, and I am going to have that while in the legislature. I know how the system works, and I am going to be ready to go when I get in there.”

Collins can be heard weekly on radio station WGMD, talking about various issues.