Democrat for Senator from the 10th District
Each candidate was asked to respond to three questions.
1. What are the top issues you will address in your campaign and what are your plans for moving those issues forward?
Opioid Epidemic – This epidemic is a tragedy for so many in our community and it affects multiple generations of families. It affects not only our resources in our hospitals and doctors’ offices, but it is overwhelming many of our other related services like paramedic services, State social service agencies, our criminal justice system, and our insurance industry. Because this issue is so vast, it requires the coordinated approach of the Behavioral Health Consortium and the Addiction Action Committee, upon which I serve. Over the past year, I have sponsored legislation which has addressed a number of pressure points in this crisis (e.g. prohibiting pre-authorization for residential treatment, enabling the creation of the Overdose System of Care, requiring insurance companies to pay for non-opioid pain relief modalities, and others), but there is still an incredible amount of work to do.
Issues that I began addressing and researching with DSAMH and others over the past year, and which I will continue to work on if elected are: (1) putting clearer parameters in place on what constitutes “medical necessity” such that residential treatment is longer, if needed, and more effective; (2) bringing Level 4 NARR into our State residential treatment system so that treatment can continue within the sober living environment; (3) developing a robust and consistent career ladder for peer counselors and treatment navigators; and (4) working within our criminal justice and court systems to get people into effective treatment programs, both in and out of prison, with wrap around services.
School Safety - As your State Senator, I supported the creation of the School Safety and Security Fund to give schools additional resources to keep our students and teachers safe, and I held the only public forum on school gun violence in the State bringing together our own experts to discuss this issue. From that forum, we learned that every school should have a trained School Resource Officer (SRO) and school counselor devoted exclusively to getting to know the students of that school and getting them to the resources they need so that disputes, mental illness/distress, and trauma do not lead to tragic outcomes. SRO’s, counselors, teachers, and bus drivers see our students every day and these professionals often notice, and should be trained to notice, the warning signs of a student in trouble, dealing with trauma, or the signs of a dangerous situation brewing. I will be continuing my service on the Appoquinimink School Safety Task Force to pursue additional safety measures that can be applied not only in this district, but statewide as well.
Healthcare - Healthcare spending in Delaware is higher than the national average and has historically outpaced the State’s economic and revenue growth. I voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 7 which authorized the Secretary of DHSS to establish a healthcare benchmark, the purpose being to keep downward pressure on the rising costs of care by identifying and addressing the cost drivers which translate into higher rates of insurance.
But we need to do more. I believe that by expanding access to primary care, patients get care sooner and spend less money on their care. The result would be a healthier population with less reliance on more expensive emergency room care. We should also discuss expanding access to affordable insurance through a Medicaid buy-in program. Also, transparency in the cost of a procedure may be the key to getting market forces back into the equation. Today, patients have no idea how much care costs until after the bill is received and they have no idea how (or if) to price-shop for procedures. Patients are at a disadvantage from the start because they do not have ready access to all of the information in order to make an informed choice without an incredible amount of prior research. Higher cost does not always equal better quality, and without transparency and better communication upfront regarding all the anticipated costs of a procedure, the patient’s ability to keep their cost down is hindered.
Jobs/Economy – While we continue to get good economic news like the major investments in the Port of Wilmington, Delaware’s economy is still recovering from the closure of our automobile assembly plants and the effects of the Great Recession. The two issues that go hand-in-hand with the biggest impact on our recovery are infrastructure and education. Government must provide adequate roads, rail, bridges, water and sewer service, and fast, predictable permitting to employers as well as a ready and educated workforce.
These are the basic building blocks to attract new businesses and help our current businesses thrive. Our education system must provide career pathways for students, and produce graduates that meet high standards for reading, writing, comprehension, and problem-solving. We need to be laser-focused on technical skills pathways in addition to providing college-bound students with the skills they need to succeed.
Environment – A clean and healthy environment is the foundation upon which we rely for our quality of life. The significant loss of our native species which make up the bottom half of our food chain (plants, birds, animals (marine and terrestrial)) in our Delaware ecosystem has been documented by the University of Delaware with the drivers being habitat loss, fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change.
As a former environmental scientist and current environmental attorney, I believe this fundamental change in our ecosystem is alarming and the consequences far-reaching. I sponsored legislation which created the Ecological Extinction Task Force made up of local experts to study this problem and make recommendations, then sponsored legislation creating the Delaware Native Species Commission to implement those recommendations. There is much work to be done and I will continue to be a strong voice in this issue.
2. What makes you uniquely qualified for the political office you seek?
As the founder and former President of the Bear/Glasgow Council of Civic Organizations, the former President of New Castle County Council, and the current State Senator for the 10 th District, I have been a leader in identifying issues and problems in our community and I have been actively working addressing those issues for almost three decades. In order to address the big issues we face as a community, tenacity and an understanding of the roles of the various levels of government, knowing who is in charge of which particular elements, and having a working relationship with the people in those roles is crucial. I have a track record of success in identifying the issues, bringing groups/experts together to find solutions, drafting legislation to address issues that require a change in the law, and getting legislation passed.
3. What community groups are you involved with and in what capacity?
I have been involved in many community groups in Delaware for almost three decades. However, once elected to public office in 2017, I resigned my membership in any non-professional group that lobbies the General Assembly on political issues or receives money from the State. Formerly, however, I was a member of the Civic League for New Castle County, the New Castle County League of Women Voters, the Delaware Environmental Institute, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Environmental Committee, the Committee of 100 Environmental Committee, and the City of Wilmington’s Utility Citizens Advisory Board.
Profession/employment: Attorney & State Senator
# of years employed: 17 years as an Attorney, 1.5 years as State Senator
Education: Seaford High School; University of Delaware (B.S., Geology); University of New Orleans (M.S., Earth Science); Widener University School of Law (J.D.)
Political experience: Previous President of New Castle County Council; Previous Chair and Vice Chair of the 9th Representative District Democratic Committee; Member of 8th Representative District Democratic Committee.