Candidates for 34th District square off over COVID, voting, climate change and more

DOVER — Delaware should reopen now and not require people to wear a mask in public, trusting most will act cautiously and wisely, Rep. Lyndon Yearick said Wednesday.

Lyndon Yearick

Participating in a virtual debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kent County and several other organizations, the two candidates for the 34th Representative District offered their takes on a variety of pressing issues. Clear philosophical differences between Rep. Yearick and Ade Kuforiji were on display, particularly in regard to the role of government.

Rep. Yearick, a Republican first elected to the Camden-Wyoming-area district in 2014, said the state succeeded months ago in flattening the coronavirus curve and needs to lift restrictions on businesses.

“I do believe in individuals being able to make conscientious decisions for their health, for their families’ health,” he said.

After peaking in late April, Delaware’s coronavirus spread slowed for months, although there’s been a slight uptick over the past two months.
Mr. Kuforiji, the Democratic nominee for the office, said he has no problem with face-covering mandates: “The best science has come up with is wear a mask.”

Stark differences shined as the two fielded questions on voting, with Rep. Yearick expressing opposition to early voting, the state’s current vote-by-mail law and establishing a national holiday on Election Day.

“I don’t think we should ever take it lightly, that ability to vote in person on a single day,” he said.

Ade Kuforiji

Mr. Kuforiji disagreed, arguing it should be easier to vote. Some people are simply unable to make it to the polls in a limited window and would thus greatly benefit from early voting and a national holiday, he said.

“It’s easy for some of us to say how can that be a problem, but … if I have two jobs, I might not be able to make it because of shifts at work,” he noted.

Rep. Yearick told listeners he is skeptical how much of climate change is caused by man and does not support mandatory renewable-energy standards, standing in contrast to his opponent.

The two agreed there should be more checks on law enforcement officers who misuse their positions, although Mr. Kuforiji went further than Rep. Yearick, calling for an independent review board to examine allegations of police misconduct.

Mr. Kuforiji, the chief financial officer and business manager for Capital School District, cited education as one of his main reasons for running.

“The biggest challenge in education is the idea that we have a whole bunch of people that make decisions for educators and most of them, I don’t believe, have any training in education,” he said.

Rep. Yearick described limited government as one of his core principles, pledging to fight for fiscal responsibility.

“We can’t grow our spending faster than our economy,” he said.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women’s Dover chapter, the NAACP’s Delaware Branch 2028, the Central Delaware Alumni Council of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Restoring Central Dover, was intended to allow candidates for several legislative offices to share their views. However, because of federal laws regarding nonpartisan organizations, it could only feature individuals if multiple people running for the same office were present.

Consequently, as Reps. Andria Bennett and Charles Postles, who hold the 32nd and 33rd district seats, respectively, declined the invitation, hopefuls for those offices could not take part, per organizers.