Ryan’s small-business roots core to campaign


For Kay Ryan, running for representative for the state’s 38th District will be like an extension of the last seven years of her life before her retirement.

Special to the Coastal Point • John Dux: Candidates for state office, Bryon Short, Kay Ryan and Brian Bushweiller pose for a photo at The Quail Restaurant during the September meeting of the Sussex County Democrats Club.Special to the Coastal Point • John Dux
Candidates for state office, Bryon Short, Kay Ryan and Brian Bushweiller pose for a photo at The Quail Restaurant during the September meeting of the Sussex County Democrats Club.

Working as deputy chief counsel for advocacy with the U. S. Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., Ryan gained a lot of experience evaluating economic impact on small businesses and how to save them money in regulatory costs. In fact, her entire career has been devoted to consumer and small business advocacy — something that is important to her as she introduces herself to Sussex County.

“We are in a major financial crisis, as you know, and that has major implications for the State of Delaware’s revenue. That there will be less money to lend to small businesses is one of my concerns. We also need more diversity in our economic structure, so we are not so vulnerable to tourism.”

She also hopes to find ways to make farming more profitable, so farmers can continue to reap benefits from their land without selling it.

After retiring and moving to southeastern Sussex because of “the way of life” and the “good environment,” Ryan became very active as the vice-chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party. She said she decided to run this year against the 38th District’s Republican incumbent, Rep. Gerald Hocker, who has served for three terms, in order to better represent her constituents.

“I feel current legislators have ignored important issues, such as health care for the uninsured, and failed greatly with the Indian River Bridge project, and unnecessarily delayed an agreement with Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power,” explained Ryan. “I never totally understood the reason for delay [with Bluewater Wind]. We have to have more leadership.”

Ryan also feels that, as a state, Delaware needs to be more aggressive to help small businesses survive and grow — especially in these trying economic times.

Ryan said she also has hopes to bridge what she calls the “unnecessary contention” between developers and residents, as she believes they are both working toward the same goal. She also has concerns about the significant growth Sussex County has seen and stresses that cutting social programs is not the answer.

“We’ve got to find ways to do more with less,” she said. “And the developers and the residents have a common interest. Developers don’t want the water polluted. They are selling a way of life. I am upset that we argue so much, rather than working with them. We have a common interest.”

In general, Ryan sees great things for Sussex County’s future and knows that no one issue has an easy or immediate answer.

“We need to take a futuristic and leadership role,” said Ryan. “These issues will take time and will be a challenge. None have easy solutions and they are all difficult and are all long-term. But they are issues that affect us all dramatically.”

The daughter of Irish immigrants, Ryan was born in New York and raised in New England. She has lived in the Midwest, overseas in Sri Lanka and Argentina during her time with the Foreign Service, and most recently in Washington, D.C.

After attending Emmanuel College on a full scholarship, she attended school at night while working as a secretary and earned her master’s degree in business administration. She then applied to and attended Harvard Law School, where she received her law degree.

Ryan has spent her entire legal career working in various forms of consumer and small-business advocacy. Her prior political career includes a position on the Wisconsin County Board of Supervisors in Madison, Wisc.

Her community activities include current vice-chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party; past-president of the Southeastern Sussex County Democratic Club; 2008 delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver; board member of Clear Space Productions, a non-profit performing arts organization in Rehoboth Beach; a member of a consumer advisory panel; cofounder and president of TEMPO, a professional women’s organization; and a member of a Medical Devices Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration.

In her free time, she enjoys supporting Clear Space Productions, reading, watching TV, visiting with friends and traveling.

For more information on Ryan and her candidacy for the 38th District, visit www.kayryan08.com.