Rep. Tina Fallon announces retirement; endorses Short

By Lynn R. Parks

A 14-term political career will soon come. Tina Fallon, who has served as state representative for the Seaford area since 1978, announced Monday that she will not run next year for a 15th term. "I just think that it's time," said Fallon, 88, the oldest state legislator in Delaware. "I may not have 20 more years and I want to have more time to do things with my family." Fallon announced her retirement to a packed house in the council chambers at Seaford City Hall. At her side was Seaford Mayor Dan Short, whom she endorsed as her replacement. "He is our mayor and he's got it all," she said. Speaker of the House Terry Spence (R - Stratford) is also endorsing Short for the seat. "He has a great personality and a great wealth of knowledge," Spence said. "He will be a great asset to the legislature and I look forward to working with him." In accepting Fallon's endorsement, Short, who lost a challenge of state Sen. Bob Venables in 2004, getting 40 percent of the vote, announced that he will not run for another term as mayor. He will complete his fifth two-year term as mayor in March. He was elected to the city council in 1995. "This is a great opportunity to do a lot of things for the greater Seaford area," Short said. Specifically, he would like to see the city's speculative building, co-owned with the state, sold. The state recently blocked the sale of the building to 84 Lumber because the company did not meet its demands regarding salary levels. He added that he plans to continue the legacy of service to community that Fallon has started. Fallon, who beat challenger Tom Chapman in 2004 with 58 percent of the vote, scoffed at the idea that her retirement has anything to do with her age. "The older you get, the more you learn," she said. "We are all much better with our grandchildren than we were with our children, because we know so much more."

Rather, she said that her decision was based on her desire to spend more time with her four sons, all of whom live out of the area, and their families. "I want to spend more time with my children and grandchildren," she said. Spence said that Fallon, who retired from the Seaford School District as a biology teacher, will be missed in Legislative Hall. "She has a tremendous amount of knowledge about education and about the needs of young people," he said. She was also invaluable in discussions of women's legislative issues, he added. "Tina set a tremendous example for many young people entering into the legislature," Spence said. "She was a mentor for many of the young legislators." Fallon said that her greatest accomplishments as a legislator have nothing to do with legislation. "I didn't go to Dover to write a lot of laws," she said. "We have enough legislation." Rather, she was able to help people through answering their questions. "Our society is complicated," she said. "I tried to help people get help and let them know how they can do what they want to do. "I'm very much out there in the community," she added. "That's my most important contribution. That's the way legislators can help people." Short said that a celebration of Fallon's career is being planned for early 2006. The event will be held in the Seaford Fire Hall. "The party will attract a big group, across all party lines, because that's what Tina's all about," he said.

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