21st Senate District candidates address the issues

Name: Bryant Richardson
Party: Republican
Office seeking: Delaware state Senate
Age: 72
Occupation: Owner of Morning Star Publications Inc.
Family: Wife, Carol, three children and five grandchildren
Elective experience: State senator since 2014

Name: Robert C. Wheatley
Party: Democrat
Office seeking: State Senate 21st district
Age: 61
Occupation: Commercial real estate agent
Family: Wife, Beckett Wheatley, and daughter, Emily Wheatley
Elective experience: None. Appointed to the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission in 1994, reappointed by County Council to a three-year term seven times since, elected chairman by the Commission members thirteen times

Why are you running for this office?

BR: Two main factors inspired me to seek office. First, I saw a tragic and horrifying disrespect for human life that has become the accepted standard for our society. Second, I witnessed the unsustainable spending habits of our government, coupled with a constant demand for new and higher taxes.

RW: I want to bring energy, enthusiasm and years of experience dealing with state agencies to the job to make state government work for the people of the 21st District.

What would be your top priority if elected?

BR: As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I have a good understanding of what is needed to improve in the areas of public safety, education, private sector job growth and responsible government. I will continue to work with others to unleash human potential, not restrict growth and opportunities.

RW: I don’t think we have the luxury of naming just one. Helping people deal with state government, jobs, economic development, education, seniors’ issues, services and the drug crisis are critical. Perhaps the most urgent of these is the drug crisis, but we must elect legislators who are willing and able to multitask and address multiple issues.

If you could change one state policy or law, what would it be?

Bryant Richardson

BR: In 2017, Senate Bill 5 was signed into law. This is one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation. Senate Bill 5 gives doctors who profit from performing abortions the authority to determine when an unborn child has a right to life or can be put to death. I would strike that law and give our unborn equal protection under the law.

RW: Let’s redesign the way we administer public assistance programs to return people to self-sufficiency. We need to provide services in a way that incentivizes people to work, not stay home. This will be no easy task, but I believe it can be done by removing the real and perceived obstacles to job training and job placement and graduating benefits so one is always better off working than sitting at home.

What are your plans to boost economic development?

BR: We need to assure that state agencies work with business owners and managers to build a stronger economy. The number of regulations should decline and the time in which permits are issued must be shortened.

RW: Supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones successfully requires adequate infrastructure, including properly zoned land and available buildings with easy access to major roadways, reliable high speed internet and cellular connections, reasonably priced electricity, natural gas availability, public water and sewer. Equally important is a streamlined permit and regulatory process. I will fight for every community to have the needed infrastructure elements and to streamline, simplify and speed up the permit and regulatory processes that frustrate so many business owners today. We must not just say we’re business friendly, we must BE business friendly!

What, if anything, should be done to increase revenue for the state or cut spending?

BR: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of private-sector job opportunities that are available now but not enough qualified candidates to fill those positions. We can increase revenues for the state by helping businesses find ways to develop their workforce through education and training. Also, there must be incentives placed on running government more efficiently.

RW: House Bill 460, budget smoothing, contained a number of provisions that would contribute greatly to stabilizing both revenue and controlling spending. The bill had bipartisan support including Treasurer Ken Simpler and Gov. John Carney. I expect it to come back in the next session and I intend to be there to support it.

Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?

BR: The state has approved medical marijuana use. I supported those changes. I do not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, mainly because of health and safety risks.

Bob Wheatley

RW: Medical marijuana is of great benefit to many people, however, I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana for a number of reasons. I believe the federal government needs to act on this before the states do. Legal under state law and illegal under federal laws creates serious problems for the banking industry and others that are regulated by both state and federal laws. Local law enforcement does not support legalization as it creates another opportunity for impaired driving and interference with judgment that we don’t need. Also, marijuana is thought by many people to be a “gateway” substance leading to use of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. Let’s just say no.

What, if any, gun laws would you change?

BR: Our Second Amendment says “shall not be infringed.” I am a defender of Second Amendment rights.

RW: I am satisfied with the current laws that regulate the clear Second Amendment rights guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution.

Would you vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty? Why or why not?

BR: Yes. I see this as a deterrent to crimes, and I believe some crimes are so horrendous that the death penalty is warranted.

RW: This is a complicated issue with no easy answer. I would favor the death penalty for the murder of members of the judiciary, law enforcement, corrections personnel and first responders. There could be other types of crimes and other types of victims for whom access to the death penalty may be appropriate.

A new death penalty statute must be written with careful consideration to its specific application so as to provide both justice and deterrence.

Do changes need to be made to the state’s employee health care structure? Why or why not?

BR: We need to do more to promote healthy lifestyle choices and reward those who follow them.

When Delawareans embrace healthier lifestyles, the cost of health insurance will decline.

RW: We need to continue to monitor health care costs and benefits so that we can make informed choices to maintain the sustainability of the program.

What should be done to combat Delaware’s drug crisis?

BR: I authored Delaware Youth Drug Prevention Curriculum Task Force, which started meeting in September. I want our young people to be aware of the dangers of using drugs. Also, I was able to fight for and obtain funding for the local Home of Hope, an addiction rehabilitation center for women, the first of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region.

RW: The drug crisis is a vicious, soul-stealing and deadly epidemic. We need a three-pronged attack: awareness/prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

Community groups, churches, schools and law enforcement are joining forces now to put awareness and prevention programs in place that will pay huge dividends in the coming years by fighting addiction before it happens.

Meanwhile, the addiction wildfire continues to rage and we need access to effective non-drug alternative treatments that are available in Maryland but not Delaware. We also need more treatment facilities in Sussex. Law enforcement is reaching out to the community with a “see something, say something” campaign and is offering program participation credit for addicts facing charges.

We need to give law enforcement new and better tools that allow them to get further up the supply chain faster. This would include holding opioid manufacturers accountable for the quantity of pills being shipped into our state and providing better tools to stem the flow of illegal substances.

Is there anything else you think is pertinent?

BR: Those entrusted by the voters to serve have an obligation to take into consideration current and future needs of their electorate without regard to personal popularity, status or outside influence, as detailed in Federalist Paper 57. In my lifetime I have taken three oaths that I have faithfully upheld.

The first was when I served in the Army Reserves. The second was my marriage vow. The third was when I was sworn into the Senate. I was elected to serve the people and I take my responsibilities very seriously. My commitment is to honor God, protect life and preserve liberties.

RW: Partisan politics is ruining this country. If we want to keep Dover from looking like Washington, then we need to send people there who care more about people and solving problems than politics and power. I’m a registered Democrat. My wife is a Republican. I have been reappointed to the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission seven times — four times by the Democrats and more recently three times by the Republicans because they all know that

I’m focused on problem-solving, not partisan politics. Sen. Bob Venables, our senator from 1988 to 2014, has endorsed me for this job because he knows that when I get there I’ll be voting my district, not some party line, just like he did. On Nov. 6th, don’t vote for a Democrat, don’t vote for a Republican. Vote for yourselves! Vote for the person you think will do the best job, for you, your family, your community and your state.


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