Public education is the bedrock of our society. Every student, regardless of economic status, race, gender, ability, or any other factor deserves only the highest quality education. Our public education system, like any other public institution, is not without its flaws. But it is still our best hope for preparing our children to become self-realized, confident, contributing members of society.
In Delaware, we need major reform of public school funding. First, schools should be funded based on need, not just pupil count. Second, referendums about school funding should me abolished. Voters in affluent areas, already with quality schools, can afford higher taxes, so they consistently approve referendums and their schools continue to get better. The opposite occurs in less affluent areas, causing good schools to get better while struggling schools struggle more and more. Finally, although we must of course remain open to various dynamic forms of education, we should not support charter and private schools over public schools.
I also support unbiased, thorough consideration of consolidating at least some of Delaware’s school districts, without predetermined pessimism and special interests’ having a seat at the table.
- Establish public pre-K for all students
- Move towards tuition-free public colleges and universities, and trade schools
- Expand the SEED program
- Remove police from schools, and eliminate harsh “zero tolerance” policies
Criminal Justice Reform
Like the American criminal justice system, Delaware’s system is broken and requires immediate and serious reform. With only 5% of the world’s population, America houses 25% of the world’s prisoners. America’s recidivism rate is a staggering 77%. Delaware’s mass incarceration and recidivism rates are among the highest in the nation—and hence, the world—creating an unnecessary social and financial burden upon Delawareans. Importantly, the many flaws in our criminal justice system disproportionately affect people of color and poor people.
- Institute restorative justice practices that acknowledge and support crime victims, and rely much less on expensive, ineffective punishment-based practices
- Fund and focus on proven educational and reformative programs for prisoners, to reduce recidivism and help prisoners transition successfully post-release
- Abolish the cash bail system, mandatory minimum sentencing, solitary confinement, and the automatic issuance of warrants for individuals who cannot afford to pay criminal and civil fines and fees
- Establish both a parole system and compassionate release
- Treat individuals with substance abuse issues for their addiction, not as criminals
- Adequately staff and pay correctional officers, and ensure safe working conditions for them
For some time, economic issues have been at the forefront of the minds of so many hardworking Americans and the poor. In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, Americans should not have to hold multiple jobs to survive. Here in Delaware, our economy has been relatively stagnant for some time.
Furthermore, wealth and income inequality in the world, in the nation, and in Delaware is reaching historic levels. Such inequality is not just morally repugnant, but socially and economically unsustainable. Hardworking Delawareans deserve a level playing field and meaningful opportunities. We deserve to feel real hope for our futures. We can do better for us, our children, and our grandchildren.
- Create additional personal income tax (PIT) brackets beyond the current top tax bracket of $60K per year
- Conduct a long overdue statewide property reassessment
- Reinstate the recently repealed estate tax for very wealthy Delawareans
- Halt unfettered corporate welfare
- Increase transparency and regulations for LLCs registered in Delaware
Employment & Jobs
Delawareans, like other Americans, are working longer hours, earning less, and seeing their benefits slashed, while struggling to save for their future and their children’s higher education. Meanwhile, corporations are raking in record profits, and CEOs and other executives are pulling in record compensation, hundreds and even thousands of times what their average or lowest-paid workers make. 60% of Americans do not have sufficient savings to cover a $1,000 emergency. Almost one-third of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement, while over one-fifth of Americans have nothing saved for it.
- Abolish the “Youth & Training Wage”
- Increase the minimum wage to a true living wage, with corporations paying the wage immediately, and a staggered, monitored approach for small businesses
- Support organized labor and unions, and ban “right to work” legislation
- Invest in green energy and rebuilding infrastructure to create quality, new, long-term jobs
Electoral & Campaign Finance Reform
Elections and voting are the cornerstone of our democracy. Yet, our political system has become flooded with big money, unfettered power, and muddied transparency, causing Delawareans and other Americans to lose faith in the entire process and even our best elected officials.
We must encourage people to educate themselves about issues and candidates, and involve themselves in the political process. History has shown us time and again that when people band together and demand better lives and better government, nothing is impossible.
Furthermore, legislators have a fundamental responsibility to create fair, open, transparent government—and should be held accountable at every turn for doing so.
- Move towards public funding for all local and statewide political campaigns
- Institute automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17- year-olds, and mail-in voting
- Enact a form of open primary elections, and ranked choice voting
- Make Election Day a holiday, and require employers to give paid time off for employees to vote
- Remove unreasonable barriers for third parties to the ballot, debates, and other forums
Like our criminal justice system, our healthcare system is broken. In America, of all modern nations, we pay by far the most money for healthcare and have some of the worst health outcomes. America is the only modern nation now witnessing diminishing life expectancies. Healthcare is a human right—not a privilege. We can afford to have the best healthcare in the world with much lower costs.
Yet, hardworking Delawareans with insurance through their employers, like all Americans, see endless increases in premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and co-pays. Many Delawareans with employers not offering health insurance simply cannot afford to purchase insurance through Delaware’s ACA exchange—which currently has only one provider that has raised its premiums over 40% in the past three years.
- Establish a statewide single-payer healthcare system or a public option like Medicaid Buy-In
- Maintain and expand programs serving our most vulnerable like seniors and children
- Institute an “End of Life Options” program in Delaware
The Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis forms at the intersection of many other issues—for-profit healthcare run amuck, scarce political will to hold opioid manufactures responsible for the epidemic they have created, untamed corporate greed, a culture of shaming individuals with addiction and mental health issues, health insurance companies’ obstinate refusal to cover sufficient treatment facility stays and pain management alternatives, inadequate numbers of treatments facilities, poverty, and lack of education about opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, no proverbial silver bullet exists to end the crisis. Aside from holding opioid manufacturers responsible for the crisis they have knowingly created, we need to employ a range of tactics, and engage the community in this important fight.
- Expand the number of facilities and beds for opioid and heroin addiction treatment
- Mandate that all insurance companies extend addiction treatment stays to at least 45 days, and cover non-opioid alternatives for pain management—including massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture
- Expand funding, distribution, and training for Narcan and Buprenorphine
- Establish safe injection sites at known hotspots for overdose deaths
Myths abound regarding legal cannabis. States with legal cannabis have seen little to no increase in usage. Studies prove that cannabis is not a “gateway drug.” In fact, states with legal cannabis have decreased their numbers of opioid- and heroin-related overdoses and deaths. A majority of Americans and Delawareans support legal cannabis—about 66% nationally and 61% statewide.
Studies show that legal cannabis does not lead to more impaired drivers, or increased crime or violence. Also, people of color and poor people disproportionately suffer serious, long-term cannabis-related legal and social consequences. Finally, fees and taxes from legal cannabis would give Delaware a significant, steady stream of revenue.
- Fully legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis
- Expunge individuals’ records of all cannabis-related charges, including currently incarcerated individuals
- Until cannabis is fully legalized, expand medical cannabis to include a much more robust list of physical and mental health conditions, and make it easier for patients to obtain it
The science and research is simply indisputable. We have a worldwide environmental crisis on our hands, and it is manmade. Without immediate and drastic action, we will leave future generations a planet barely or totally uninhabitable.
Delaware is especially at risk regarding climate change. We are the lowest-lying state in the nation, making us uniquely susceptible to rising sea levels. We have some of the most beautiful and remarkable beaches on the East Coast, and they are increasingly in danger. We have a wonderful and cherished diversity of native plants and wildlife we must protect. We have decreasing air and water quality, which is unnecessary and unacceptable. We have a long-standing, proud Delaware agricultural industry adversely impacted more each year by climate change.
Nations around the world are proving you can institute bold change while growing the economy and jobs. Let us do the same, and let the First State lead by example! The various costs of failing to act decisively and immediately are incalculable—socially, financially, and morally.
- Mandate that Delaware rely 100% on renewable energy, and be self-sustaining energy-wise, on a reasonable but aggressive time frame
- Enact a carbon emissions tax or surcharge
- Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, and improved and expanded public transportation
- Fully fund DNREC and hire a number of employees sufficient to perform its vital mission
- Repeal the gutting of the Coastal Zone Act (CZA)
- Examine and update our land use and zoning
- Protect existing open space and increase it
Gun control has become one of the most divisive topics in American political and social discourse. It does not have to be that way. Often, I think we agree upon more points than we realize—common sense legislation discussed rationally, outside highly emotional and rhetorical context, and then passed into law for the protection of all Delawareans. I am firmly in favor of such legislation, and I strongly believe we must rely upon empirical studies and research.
However, I believe there are many facets to the “why” regarding record numbers of mass shootings and gun-related deaths. First, we need to make mental health help affordable and accessible to everyone. Second, we must examine ourselves as a culture and society. We have to ask ourselves difficult but important questions. Why are so many young people filled with despair instead of hope? Why are we as a people so angry? Why have we become so isolated from each other, so reluctant to participate in our own communities and democracy?
We need not only a political revolution in America, but a cultural and social one as well.
- Ban the sale and ownership of semi-automatic weapons.
- Ban the sale and ownership of high-capacity magazines
- Pass legislation requiring the safe storage of firearms and ammunition
- Fund and promote educational campaigns raising awareness of the hazards and dangers of firearms
Delaware faces a clean drinking water public health crisis, especially downstate—including PFCs and elevated nitrates in drinking water, which can adversely and seriously affect the health of pregnant mothers, children, and everyone.
In February 2018, Blades residents were told not to use tap water for drinking or cooking, after perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were detected in the town’s water supply. PFCs can cause cancer and developmental issues for fetuses and infants, and adversely affect body organs and function.
A 2018 Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) study revealed elevated nitrates in Delaware drinking water, primarily in Millsboro. One-third of homes’ drinking water had nitrate levels higher than the EPA’s recommended maximum. Excessive nitrates can lead to serious illness, especially in babies.
A range of options exists to greatly increase water quality for all Delawareans—especially individuals and families suffering daily—at a surprisingly low cost. Human adults’ bodies are 60% water, babies’ bodies are 75% water, and I am 100% sure that with strong political will and community organizing and activism, we can ensure that 100% of Delawareans have clean, safe water.
- Pass a “Clean Water Bill” funding projects aimed at improving groundwater and waterways
- Establish a “Clean Water Surcharge” levied on personal income tax (PIT) payments and all business license fees
- Bolster Delaware’s repeat polluting offender program, ensuring serious consequences for chronic groundwater polluters
- Expand programs educating Delawareans with well water about the need to test it regularly, and assisting them in doing so
- Help area farmers to implement agricultural best practices and practice environmentally responsible farming
Throughout Delaware and American history, women (and many men) have fought tenaciously and tirelessly for the rights women have today. First, we must ensure that those rights are never impeded upon, eroded, or taken away. Second, we must strive towards the still-unrealized goal of true and full equality for all women, particularly women of color.
- Oppose all efforts to limit or eliminate a woman’s right to choose
- Implement a State program ensuring affordable, accessible birth control for all Delaware women, particularly women whose employers are exempt from providing birth control coverage per the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding religious protections for employers
- Work towards legally codifying full pay equity for Delaware women
Civil Rights & Other Issues
State government has a duty to protect all Delawareans—especially our most vulnerable individuals—like minorities, seniors, children, veterans, the less affluent, and undocumented immigrants. All of us have role to play in making Delaware the best it can be.
- Protect and expand existing programs serving our most vulnerable
- Require an automatic third-party investigation for any person(s) harmed or killed while being apprehended by the police or in police custody, and eliminate racial profiling
- Ensure full equality for all members of the LGBT community
- Increase the recently reduced Senior School Property Tax Credit, and make it means-tested (income-based)
- Establish Delaware as a “sanctuary state”