“It’s going to be exciting,” declared Sussex Central High School Principal Bradley M. Layfield as he tossed his hat into the ring for the Delaware State House of Representatives position from the 4th District.

The newly redistricted 4th House of Representatives District follows the Indian River and Indian River Bay from Millsboro north and east along Route 24 (John J. Williams Highway) to Love Creek, and encompasses the communities of Oak Orchard, Long Neck and Angola. Layfield lives in the house his great-great-grandfather built on Jersey Road in Millsboro.

Running on a platform of education, the environment and local rights for families in Delaware, Layfield has been very active in the community as an educator for more than 20 years. Earlier in his career, before serving in leadership with the Indian River School District, he was treasurer for the Republican National Committee’s Sussex County chapter.

He said he has wanted to return to politics, alongside his teaching career. Seeing the power of local community action during the pandemic, and hoping to make a difference, Layfield said, he filed to run at the Department of Elections in Sussex County.

Layfield attended Sussex Central High School, earned his bachelor’s degree and later his doctorate at the University of Delaware, and returned to his old alma mater to start with the Indian River School District as a social studies teacher in 2001. He has been principal there since 2014. Layfield is also active Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA), working with the Delaware athletic directors, and said, “I am on year nine of what was supposed to be a six-year term.”

At the Board of Elections signing, Layfield enjoyed support from representative of veterans’ organizations, firefighters, police and fellow educators. The Dagsboro Police Department has already made a formal endorsement of the candidate.

“I hope many of these organizations will soon be endorsing my campaign,” he said. “I will be asking for their support.”

Environmental concerns and balanced growth are also part of his campaign.

“We represent a coastal community, and I want to advocate for Indian River and the Inland Coastal Bays.”

Layfield and his family live on the Indian River.

Education is his top priority.

“We need local control of our schools,” said Layfield, who noted that he watched as parents became concerned with mask mandates and quarantines keeping kids home from school. “There has been more of a ‘swing from the top of government down’ approach from our governor and the Department of Education,” said Layfield.

“I believe in the grassroots and am 100 percent for local control of our education system.”

Law enforcement is also a top-level concern for House candidate Layfield.

“Crime is up in our area,” he said, citing a murder and opioid traffickers. “There is an uptick in violence. We need to gain better relationships with our law enforcement,” he said. “Our region is at the top in the nation for opioid abuse, and we are becoming a hotbed of crime” as a result, he said.

Layfield committed, should he be elected, to find more resources for Millsboro police, as well as Delaware State Police Troops 7 and 4, to battle crime. He cited rapid growth in the community as a rationale to increase the number of police, both at the municipal and state levels.

“I want to ask our law enforcement, ‘What are your needs, and how can I support them?’” he said. “I want to provide better resources and be a steward for all of the people of the fourth district.”

Tackling Sussex Central building and legislature

Layfield believes he can handle his current position as Sussex Central principal through the massive $146 million capital improvement of the current high school.

“It has taken three referendums already to get the funding for this project,” said Layfield, whose brother, Rodney M. Layfield, is president of the IRSD School Board.

Bradley Layfield, as principal, noted that Sussex Central is already in final design phase and contracts are going out to bid now. He said he believes there may be some additional fundraising needs, with past Coastal Point reporting indicating a potential need for an additional $20 million for all improvements.

“I won’t miss a beat on the building project,” said Layfield. “My staff is fully briefed and has been working diligently on the build-out. ABHA, our architecture firm, is very flexible on the planning. We have built a real system here over my 21 years in education.”

Layfield said he might model his own dual-track career after that of state Sen. Gerald Hocker, who runs a business and serves as state senator.

“I have the work ethic and the skill sets to get things done,” said Layfield. “I am a hard worker, and I pride myself on seeing a task through to completion.”

“I will admit the workload is high for both a principal and a state legislator,” he said.

The Delaware General Assembly comprises 41 state representatives, and the post is a part-time elected office. Layfield said while representatives are in-session, the days often begin about 2 p.m., giving him time to travel from the schoolhouse to the statehouse.

Layfield noted that the District 4 seat is an open seat in the newly-drawn district. The district encompasses what were once portions of the 37th and 41st representative districts, as well as portions of the 20th. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, the new districts will average about 24,000 residents. The position comes with a $47,291 annual salary.

Democratic incumbent

Charles “Bud” Freel won a special election as the democratic incumbent of the former District 8 and retained the newly districted District 4 seat in a run-off election in May 2022, beating the Republican challenger with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

During the redistricting process finalized in November of 2021, the 4th Representative District — the one Freel now represents — was relocated to the Long Neck and Oak Orchard area of Sussex County.

New district lines will take effect immediately following the next election, which will be held on Nov. 8, 2022.

Staff Reporter

Mike has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern and is a 25-year member of the National Press Club. He has won four national writing awards for editorial work. He is a native of McLean, Va., and lives in Millville.