Lykins & Smith ld24

About the Candidates

Deanna Lykins & Dan Smith for NJ LD 24


About Deana Lykins

"We are the product of all of our experiences."
My mom was forced to drop out of high school to support her family in an urban Kentucky town. My father grew up a sharecropper's son doing homework by candlelight on a dirt floor, because that is what rural poverty looked like in post-Depression Kentucky. We were raised strong Democrats. Neither of my parents went to college, but they stressed education and hard work more than anyone I have ever met. If my brother or I got a "C" on our report card - we were grounded. At the age of 12, my parents walked me to the town drug store to ask for my first job as a stocker and I have worked every day since.

The second floor of my high school had been condemned for 10 years when I attended that school due to the inequality of education funding at the time between urban and rural school systems. When I got to college, I was totally ill-equipped for the rigor and diversity of classes required as we only were provided the basics in my high school. Only ten percent of my high-school graduating class went to college - and most of them dropped out. My high school superintendent, a woman, was lambasted in the state press for buying clothes and shoes for the poor children of our county. When questioned, a school board member said "people are just not ready for a woman leader in this county."

After graduating from the University of Kentucky with honors in Journalism and working for a think-tank called The Council of State Government for two years as a policy analyst, I moved to Washington, DC to attend law school at American University. Upon moving into my group house, and finding out that my roommates had gone to Harvard, Wesleyan and Chicago, I called my mother crying asking how I could ever compete against such distinction. She told me to work harder than them, just as I had done in high school and college. Hard work can overcome a lot. She was right.

Being the product of poverty, I wanted to work in poverty law and moved to the New York City area after law school graduation to work at the New York City Housing Authority in their Honors Program. Urban poverty is a massive problem, but I set my sights on state-wide change and began work for the New Jersey Legislature. I cut my teeth on labor and consumer affairs issues, and ended staffing the Senate Commerce Committee. As a moderate Democrat, I have always sought a balance between encouraging true economic development and fighting for needed social change. During this time, I was honored to work to fight against telemarketing and predatory lending, and fight for the deregulation of the auto insurance market in New Jersey.

Always looking to learn more, I entered a decade of private sector employment that taught me valuable lessons about how both employees and employers feel about the laws that impact them. I worked for Schering-Plough Pharmaceutical as National Policy Manager. I privately consulted companies such as JP Morgan Chase; grocery store chains such as Whole Foods; and the car and home insurance industry. I led the New Jersey Insurance Council as President during Hurricane Sandy. And worked for upstanding insurance companies such as AAA Insurance and Sussex's own Selective Insurance.

I married my partner in business, who became my partner in life, and we adopted two fabulous kids to add to our existing family. We bought a 200-year farm house in Green Township, and are raising chickens, ducks, geese and kids. These days if you want to find me, its best to look at the pool, or soccer field, hockey rink or school.

My parents raised me that giving back to the community is a duty. I believe that, and am teaching it to my own kids. In the 20-plus years I have lived and worked in New Jersey, I have tried to work to make it a better place. New Jersey is in my heart and is my home. I believe Legislative District 24 needs a new voice. Diversity of thought is important. As a woman, a mother, a professional problem-solver and a Democrat - I believe I can bring new ideas and assistance to our area.

My experiences have made me a life-long worker and fighter, who wants to bring my passion and drive to help the citizens of Legislative District 24.

About Dan Smith

Smith has been a resident of Mt. Olive Township for the past 14 years.  He is a strong advocate for economic growth and educational opportunity.  As an attorney, he has represented small businesses, homeowners, public entities and private individuals, and has a solid command of the legislative process.  He has made local government more accountable by promoting policies that benefit more families, more students, and more business owners.  A dedicated public servant, he has served as a municipal court judge, library board attorney and non-profit board trustee.  Through his involvement with the Morris County chapter of the New Jersey Orators program, he has worked with children in grades 4 through 12 to teach public speaking skills; and, as a former Trustee of the Warren County College Foundation, helped raise funds to support educational programs.  While serving as Vice President of the Warren-Sussex Chapter of the NAACP, he brought community leaders together for roundtable discussions to promote local diversity.  He is also a founding member of the Morris County chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, through which he plays an active role in organizing an annual Community Health Day in Morristown.  Dan will be a powerful voice for the communities of Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties that make up the 24th Legislative District.

 “It’s time for everyone from the 24th Legislative District to have a voice in Trenton.  As an attorney and small business owner, I have dedicated my career to issues such as better education, business growth and property tax relief.  I’m ready to fight for families, fight to get rid of red tape that hurts businesses, fight to improve our neighborhoods, fight for the men and women in uniform who keep us safe and, finally: fight for more and better jobs for everyone!”