Rep. Ruth Briggs Kings retires, effective immediately
GEORGETOWN — State Rep. Ruth Briggs King, the sole female Republican in the General Assembly announced she was resigning from public office on Wednesday morning, effective immediately.
Briggs King announced she was retiring from serving the 37th district, which covers Georgetown south from Route 9 to northern Millsboro, as she and her husband were moving into a home outside the district. She held the seat for 14 years, after winning in the special election when then-Rep. Joe Booth successfully ran for state senate in 2009.
“Today, I am ready to embark on my next challenge and change that will allow me to explore, learn, and better serve my community,” Briggs King said in a prepared statement. “As you may know, the 37th District has changed as a result of the recent redistricting, and the lines have moved three times since my first election. Each time it has been an honor to meet and serve the constituents of the district.”
In the last round of redistricting in 2022, the 37th District expanded west along Route 9, and the area that stretched to Long Neck was re-established as the 4th District.
“My hope is that my successor will continue placing at the forefront of elected office: quality constituent services, protecting our Constitutional rights, and promoting good governance,” Briggs King added.
Under state law, when there is a vacancy in the House of Representatives, the House Speaker must issue a writ of election within 10 days of the creation of the vacancy in order for a Special Election to occur. The Department of Elections then must set the Special Election for 30-35 days after the writ is issued.
Briggs King held various positions in education, health care as well as executive leadership roles in human resources and home building. She notably served as CEO of Sussex County Association of Realtors for a decade until 2016.
She first ran for office in 2000 for District 41, but lost in the general election to Democrat Rep. Charles West. In 2009, she won in a tight race for District 37 and won with 53% of the vote. Over the years, she successfully held on to the seat with close to 60% of the vote in general elections and ran unopposed in the last six years.
She was also notable for being one of the few women in the General Assembly, and among the few female Republicans. When the legislature convened this past January, it had 24 women out of the total 62 members. In 2000, 11 of the 15 legislators were women in the Republican Party; today the Democratic Party has more women in the chambers.
Among her 14 years of service, Briggs King points to her efforts to address the opioid epidemic as one of her biggest accomplishments. She was a prime sponsor of “Aiden’s Law,” which aimed to protect infants through referring mothers who test positive for drugs or alcohol at birth to child protective services. Parents are then required to develop a safety plan to care for their child, which may include medical care, substance abuse treatment and plans to find a job.
She was also a celebrated champion to preserve the Richard Allen School in Georgetown as an historic and educational center, and was noted to take up the charge for the growing Hispanic community in her district and in Sussex County.
“Rep. Ruth Briggs King has been a strong leader within the House of Representatives and a fierce advocate for the constituents she has represented. It was a pleasure working with her and her presence within Legislative Hall will be missed,” Senate Republican Leader Gerald Hocker and Senate Republican Whip Brian Pettyjohn said in a joint statement.
House Minority Whip Lyndon Yearick sat next to Briggs King on the House floor for years, and he noted her drive, determination as well as her sense of humor to be both insightful and entertaining.
“Ruth enjoys solving problems. Repeatedly, I have seen her willingness to delve into the minutia of an issue and propose nuanced, thoughtful proposals” Hocker said. “These are the traits of a great elected official. Ruth’s 14 years of selfless public service should be admired, and the loss of her experience and dedication will not be easily replaced.”