NEW GARDEN >> Former Kennett High School teacher and coach Rick Nelms is throwing his hat in the ring for the 2018 primary election. He is seeking the state House of Representatives seat for the 158th District, which is now occupied by Republican Eric Roe, who has said publicly that he intends to run as well.
The 158th District covers the municipalities of Avondale, East Bradford, East Marlborough, London Britain, New Garden, Newlin, West Bradford, West Marlborough and sections of West Goshen.
“Given the national (political) climate, I felt there was something I needed to do. A thin veneer has been pulled back on civilization,” said Nelms, 65, and a Democrat.
He said he has received encouragement to run not only from Democrats, but from moderate Republicans as well.
“A Republican supervisor called and said I would get things done in Harrisburg, and they wouldn’t walk all over me. ... The moderate Republicans are not happy,” he said.
In the past few months, he has already made preparations for the coming primary on May 15.
He enumerated that he as done trainings in Harrisburg, gone to seminars on running for office, gathered a support team, served as a New Garden committee person and canvassed for Democrats in the last election. He has also cleared his intention to run with former Democratic candidate Susan Rzucidlo, who has run and lost for the position several times before.
Throughout his adulthood he has been interested in politics, teaching economics and government. He also became will known in the community for his leadership of the high school basketball team and the girls’ softball team.
Although retired from teaching he still hold jobs operating heavy construction equipment for a local mushroom company and doing the payroll operations for a restaurant operated by his family.
Also in his resume are teaching stints at Jenkintown, Coatesville, Archmere and Shanahan.
Should he be elected the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, he said he would contribute $17,000 of his salary annually to struggling military veterans. He would also forego per diems (walking around money) and limit is government terms to two.
His positions are strong. Being a fiscal conservative, he said some of his Democratic friends might not be completely happy with all of his views.
Some of those views deal with the educators’ pensions, which are costing the state millions and contributing to the increase in property taxes designated for schools.
He said that he would support moving management of pensions from the Education Department to a private company, saving millions annually.
He also said that he believes the numerical multipliers used to calculate pensions for teachers and administrators is too high. Additionally, he would push to have the number of superintendents reduced so they were responsible for more than one district.
Having taught in Kennett with a high population of children with Mexican heritage attending, he feels strongly that Dreamers (children who were brought to the United States when they were young but are now undocumented) must be protected.
“They must be advised of their constitutional rights. I taught the Bill of Rights and I don’t compromise on (saving from deportation) the Dreamers. I can be a vote for the Dreamers.”
He said he believes there should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
If any of his constituents are arrested for immigration, “I’ll go to jail with them.”
He also has strong feelings about the excessive standardized testing that Pennsylvania students must endure.
“I am opposed to robotic learning, which is what those test measure. It’s skills that are important. .. (the students’) creative souls are being crushed,” he said.
Nelms lives in New Garden with his wife and two therapy dogs. He has three grown sons.
He said his greatest joy has come from students and working in the community. His favorite service organization is PAWS, which provides services to people whose lives are enhanced by visits from dogs like his.