Delaware House Majority Leader Representative Valerie Longhurst will lead Delaware’s cycling delegation to Washington DC next week as part of the National Bike Summit.
Now in its 14th year, the National Bike Summit unites the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Cycling advocates from all across the country will have an opportunity to hear from their peers and colleagues about what does – and doesn’t – work to create lasting pro-bicycling change in our communities; and to connect with people who share our passion for cycling.
Unlike a traditional conference, however, the National Bike Summit is ultimately focused on advocacy, and the last day of the summit is about connecting with federal policymakers to make the case for a Bicycle Friendly America. Representative Valerie Longhurt, who serves as the Majority Leader of the Delaware House of Representatives, will lead a pro-cycling delegation to the three offices of Delaware’s congressional delegation on March 5.
Representative Longhurst was first elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in November 2004 to represent the 15th District. The district consists of 20,000 people living in Bear, Delaware City and St. Georges. In 2008, she was elected as the House Majority Whip and served for four years. After the 2012 election, her caucus elected her House Majority Leader. She is currently chair of the House Administration, Ethics and Rules committees and also serves on the Telecommunications Internet and Technology committee.
In 2012, Representative Longhurst was a leader in the successful fight for Governor Markell’s unprecedented proposal to invest millions for cycling in Delaware. Before that, in 2011, she was the prime sponsor in Delaware’s House of Representatives for Senate Bill 120 – a bill that made it legal for cyclists to ride straight in right turn lanes.
Representative Longhurst loves to bike and, just last month, she introduced a bill to make cycling the Official State Sport of Delaware.
Gail Seitz is a native Delawarean who recently completed a 3,700 mile bicycle ride across the United States. Gail has worked in the Delaware District Office of Congressman John Carney, for companies such as DuPont and Accenture and has taught in elementary schools, middle schools and at the University of Delaware. Gail’s community service includes the Board of Directors of the Wilmington YMCA, the New Castle Senior Center and the New Castle Historical Society; Session of the New Castle Presbyterian Church; mentoring in public schools and Boys and Girls Clubs for over 10 years; and serving on multiple committees for her home City of New Castle.
Jonathan Kirch is the Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for Delaware and the City of Philadelphia. Jonathan is a recognized leader on health policy and legislation having been involved in a broad range of issues, including stroke center designation, tobacco control, health care reform, and emergency cardiovascular care, among many others. Jonathan served as the inaugural and Founding Chair of the Delaware Healthy Eating and Active Living Coalition, as well as serving on the Governor’s Council for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Jonathan enjoys biking and can regularly be spotted riding the Creek Road and Pomeroy Trails from his home in the middle of White Clay Creek State Park to Newark and the University of Delaware. He has been a key supporter of completing the Wilmington – New Castle Greenway.
James Wilson has been the executive director of Bike Delaware since 2011. He is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, the board of directors of Delaware Greenways, the Delaware Bicycle Council, the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMPACO) Nonmotorized Transportation Working Group and the Wilmington Bicycle Advisory Committee. He is the only registered lobbyist for cycling in Delaware. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin.
Delaware has an amazing history with the National Bike Summit. Last year, Delaware State Senator Dave Sokola was a speaker. The year before, Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Bhatt spoke eloquently about the need to shift priorities in transportation investments. And, most impressively, Governor Jack Markell spoke at the 2010 National Bike Summit. Back in 2010, Governor Markell was the only sitting United State governor to ever address a National Bike Summit. Now, four years later, Governor Markell is still the only governor in the United States to have ever spoken at a National Bike Summit.
Delaware will be well-represented during the conference portion of the National Bike Summit too. United State Department of Transportation Chief Economist (and Delaware native!) Jack Wells will be speaking on an extremely important panel about how to make sure that taxpayers dollars spent on transportation go only to projects that have the biggest, long-term economic benefits to the public. And Bike Delaware’s executive director James Wilson will be speaking about how advocates can be effective in fighting for improved road safety.
If you would like to add another voice from Delaware for cycling in our nation’s capitol, there’s still time to register for the summit.