“I have traveled the world, met a lot of people, seen a lot of places, experienced a lot of life and have come to the conclusion that the best we can do with the time that we have is to lift up one another; there is no greater contribution.”
Crime and Safety
Delawareans report crime and safety as their most pressing concerns. While citizens of counties in lower crime rate areas feel safer than those who live in counties with higher crime rates, citizens of Delaware as a whole continue to regard crime as the primary threat to healthy living.
Delawareans deserve a modern and robust criminal justice system that holds criminals accountable to the law while rehabilitating those individuals who deserve a second chance. We need a correctional system that practices restorative justice and especially allows non-violent offenders to repay their debts to society in community service. Families which are broken by petty crime, should not stay broken. Too many of our youth are at risk of incarceration. We must have a system that is shaped by community based initiatives with diversion programs rich in education and employment opportunities if we are to have a stronger Delaware.
Prisoners released from our correctional facilities must have access to services that provide the means for a healthy transition out of the penal system back into society and back into family living. We must put together services that help reduce recidivism with significant concentration in areas as behavioral counseling, conflict resolution, vocational training as well as medical treatment for addiction, anxiety and trauma related incidents.
Delawareans deserve to feel safe in their homes and in public places. Law enforcement officers must remain safe as they go about their daily tasks. Inmates both adult and juvenile deserve to feel safe as they pay their societal debt.
We must change our thinking around wealth from a focus on poverty to how individuals and businesses create wealth through earning, investing and saving money, through equitable contracting for work and through financial planning. This is where programs such as Pathways to Success, apprenticeships, and internships prepare our workforce so that individuals can earn. Our universities must gauge success by the graduates who can compete successfully in the job market. We must consider again the timing and amount planned for raising the minimum wage. There are some industries that are seriously lagging in salary, such as home healthcare aides, teachers,
With policy and programming we must encourage community banking and mortgage companies that are inclined to low and moderate income households and businesses. This kind of resource brings in jobs, economic development and opens up opportunities for individuals and businesses to earn, to borrow, invest and save.
Those who wish to start a business must have a path that is accessible, equitable and understandable. The Supplier Diversity Office must do its greatest work out of the office and in the communities educating these new starts, small and minority business owners.
The key to creating wealth is education and access.
Climate Change and Clean Energy
Delaware must go green. Currently, 96 percent of Delaware energy consumption comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel consumption is not sustainable and its pollutants and gases that trap heat are harmful to our habitat. Our focus must be on renewable and clean energy technologies and solutions, including offshore wind farms, electric charging station, and solar powered energy solutions. These industries are growing and developing.
Global Warming is responsible for changing weather patterns that are causing intense storms and severe weather conditions that cost businesses and families millions of dollars in infrastructure and property damage. We must have an emergency response system that is responsive to these changing weather conditions and is broadband driven.
At the end of 2021, just above 64,000 veterans lived in Delaware making up 8.4% of the adult population, 6% of which lived in poverty. More than 7,000 of the total veteran population are women many of whom grapple with childcare, isolation, and joblessness.
We are morally obligated to connect our veterans to education, employment and housing so that they are able to care for their families. We can hardly repay them for their sacrifice in service, but we can begin by creating an Office of Veteran Services that is fully staffed in size and talent and has viable capacity to answer homelessness, unemployment, lack of education and poor health. We have a Veterans Home that is not operating at full capacity for a lack of staff.
In Delaware out of the 121 total deaths by suicide, 22 or just under 20% were veterans. We have a national crisis amongst our veterans in that they are taking their own lives at alarming rates. We must provide mental health care and follow-up treatment for our proud veterans. Hopelessness is an emotion that should not ever be associated with veterans and their mental health.
Delaware is currently grappling with a severe housing crisis characterized by escalating rents, limited affordable housing options, and an increasing homeless population. I would insist upon a Housing Health Consortium that brings together homeowners, tenants, landlords, bankers, builders, developers, non-profits and labor unions to manage policies and practices that are equitable and ensure affordable housing, home ownership, and fair leasing.
Let’s incentivize developers to include affordable housing units in new construction. It is important to create a state-level rehabilitation and preservation fund that can support only those companies that are already renovating existing affordable housing units and preventing conversion to market-rate housing. In order to get people off the streets we must increase funding for homeless shelters and supportive services to address immediate needs and facilitate the transition to permanent housing.
Delaware’s Hope Center is an extraordinary example of transition shelter with thorough wrap around supports. We must encourage through incentives, mixed-income developments, so that we promote economic diversity and reduce concentrated poverty, as well as prioritize transit-oriented developments, reducing reliance on private vehicles. Delaware has a housing crisis that can be turned around.
Education: Teacher Shortage
Delaware public schools had more than 500 open teacher positions in 2022-2023 school year. Reportedly the shortages are showing up in urban areas and at large schools where students in families with low income or students of color attend. Among the many stresssers are salary, crowded classrooms and student behavioral wellness.
I would like to see an alternative certification program within our education system that looks a lot like the “Heroes to Hard Hats” model where trade unions have an apprenticeship program for already skilled veterans. We can bring in our veterans who do not have teaching degrees, but have been instructors in extensive military training programs for their career lengths. These veterans have taught content intensive materials. We must be able to create an alternative certification process to support where we cannot provide quality education because we do not have enough teachers.
We must persist in adding more mental health professionals to the staff who can better manage behaviorial concerns, including social workers to help limit the quality of life issues that are negatively influencing the learning experience.
Delaware has made great strides in addressing mental health. We have more facilities, outpatient services and collaborative initiatives because of the work of the Behavioral Health Consortium. We must continue to improve preventive, early screenings, community support services and addictive recovery programs. Lives depend on it.
If we could reach our kids at a young age with the right services we would diminish so many of the mental health outcomes they suffer in adulthood. Far too many of our youth are dying by suicide and we must use every measure to prevent this from happening.
Veterans are at a high risk for suicide due to the trauma they experienced in their service lives. They transition from the military and come home with PTSD to unemployment, lack of access to healthcare, and isolation that fuel feelings of hopelessness. We must go out of our way to identify these veterans, connect them to services and address how we protect and restore their mental health.
People with Disabilities
There are 1 in 4 adults in Delaware, over 200,000 individuals, with a disability who can be challenged in multiple ways by health, education, transportation, and employment among other social determinants. It is a high priority to help build a responsive system of support that allows better access to services, to review processes for efficiency. Delaware needs a multi- level transition program that is extensive in employment training and opportunity. The transportation costs to individuals with disabilities must be managed so that it builds and not limit. I am committed to making our systems work as they should to meet the needs of the community.