Election 2020: 29th Representative District

Name: Bill Bush

Bill Bush

Party: Democratic

Age: 52

Family: Married to Carrie and we have three sons: Liam (18), Mason (16), and Jonathan (13)

Residence: Wyoming

Occupation: State representative, attorney

Name: Robin R. Hayes

Party: Republican

Robin Hayes

Age: 54

Family: Husband, two adult married sons; four-plus grandchildren

Residence: Dover

Occupation: Owner of Nutritionally Speaking, master’s prepared dietitian, diabetes care and education specialist, farmer/owner of White Gate Farms

Why are you running for this seat?

BB: I’m running for reelection because I want to continue to serve the families and neighbors of the 29th District and make their lives better.

RH: I decided to run for a political office because I am a small-business owner and a farmer who has found it difficult and challenging to cope with direct interference by the Democrat-controlled state government. Through its meddling and regulations without oversight, the state of Delaware has made it challenging for small businesses and farmers to continue to BE the backbone of Delaware’s economy. Too many issues that impact us all have been politicized.

I want to get the job done and solve problems that create barriers for all to thrive. I believe we need a balanced government and a balanced view of solving problems. When I requested a meeting with my representation at Legislative Hall to discuss issues important to all Delawareans, I was told I needed a lobbyist to really be heard. I think people need to be heard without a lobbyist!

What do you see as the major issues for this district?

BB: Assisting families and small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19, reducing the cost of health care, improving our local infrastructure, supporting our first responders, and improving our education system.

RH: Reasonably paying jobs. Many members of my district must commute out of state to work. The indefinite Phase Two position Gov. Carney has taken with respect to COVID-19 has taken away the ability of small-business owners to self-regulate based upon their industry standards for reopening under COVID-19 CDC health guidelines. We should NOT allow big-box stores and corporate hardware stores to open while their small-business counterparts are mandated to stay closed.

The Second Amendment. The persistent challenge of our constitutional right to bear arms is not acceptable to my district. Our constitutional right to protect ourselves became evident this summer when riots came within a half-mile of several housing developments. The Amish and other members of my district routinely hunt for food. Their rights should be protected, as well.

Opioid crisis. Many members of my district have friends or family members struggling with opioid addiction. This state does not have enough treatment facilities to accommodate the various types of substance abuse.

What is the biggest problem facing the state, and how would you solve it?

BB: The biggest problem facing Delaware right now is COVID-19. We need more accessible community testing and additional personal protective equipment for workers, especially our teachers and first responders. In addition, we must continue to find creative ways to keep our local businesses afloat and help those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

RH: SHORT-TERM: See above under reasonably paying jobs.

LONG-TERM: Due to COVID-19, Gov. Carney has acted without regard to the input from the General Assembly. Most people accept the fact that the first 30 days of a crisis, the governor’s position is within their constitutional rights to manage the crisis as they see fit. After this, however, the General Assembly should have convened to review and to discuss/argue how the future should be managed. The people have rights and they need to have the opportunity to be heard through their representation.

Most Delawareans are unaware that once a bill becomes a law through normal General Assembly proceedings, that law is sent to the department it impacts. Subsequently, the department develops the regulations that delineate how the law will be interpreted. Unfortunately, since Delaware has no inspector general, the department regulations are never overseen/reviewed by an impartial body to insure that the spirit of the new law has been captured. The day-to-day activities reflected in the regulations don’t always reflect what the General Assembly intended.

What would you like to see Delaware do differently regarding coronavirus?

BB: We need to redouble our community testing efforts, which will give us a more complete picture of the number of cases and where they’re coming from. Once we have that, we need a more focused and comprehensive plan to get our children back in school. We also need to keep supporting small businesses with state grant funds and assistance programs — they are still hurting and we can’t let them fall further behind.

RH: See above LONG-TERM response

How should our health care system change in response to coronavirus?

BB: One thing COVID-19 has shown us is the importance and effectiveness of telemedicine services. Early in the pandemic, I advocated for easier access to telemedicine for all Delawareans, and I was proud to vote for legislation earlier this year that created greater flexibility in our telemedicine laws. In addition, ensuring our front-line health care workers have the protective equipment and other protections they need is essential.

We also must be cognizant of the need and availability of mental health and addiction services during this difficult time and find ways to provide needed services. I take great pride in legislation I sponsored that will ensure Delawareans with pre-existing conditions can obtain health insurance no matter what may happen in Washington.

RH: Did not answer.

What do you believe schools should do to educate students while keeping people safe from COVID-19?

BB: We need to get our children back in school if it can be done safely. Bringing students back initially in a hybrid form will allow for social distancing. Simultaneously, we must increase available COVID-19 testing at school locations. Furthermore, we must provide necessary personal protective equipment for students, teachers and staff, and ensure proper ventilation.

RH: ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING: It is my understanding that most K-12 teachers were never appropriately trained by their school districts regarding best practices for online learning. The state could have coordinated with local colleges and universities to work with the school districts and their respective teachers, as well as interested parents, to insure a smoother transition. Overall, parents and students were not included early enough in the decision-making process in terms of what returning to school would look like.

Parents who needed to return to work are expected to manage their children’s conduct and participation. Not all families could afford the required technology. Many young students will have a distorted idea of what school should be. Teach in modular units with grades based upon projects that reinforce and demonstrate a level of understanding and mastery of facts/skills taught (more real-world experiences).

What should the state do to help both businesses and workers right now?

BB: I’m proud of innovative ways we’ve found to assist our small businesses during the pandemic. That’s why I sponsored a bill in June allowing for expanded outside seating and greater takeout options for restaurants. But, we can’t let off the gas now. We must direct business recovery grant funds to those businesses that were impacted the hardest.

For workers that have been displaced we’ve launched additional workforce training programs to help them regain employment. I am the chair of the Economic Development, Banking, Insurance and Commerce Committee and will continue to advocate for small businesses throughout our state.

RH: See above SHORT-TERM response.

What do you think of the current level of state spending?

BB: I’ve always believed we must take a conservative approach to state spending. The impact of COVID-19 on our economy means the state’s financial resources will be limited going into the next budget year. We must prioritize our spending and ensure that we direct resources to where they’re needed most.

RH: This question is vague. If afforded more time/space, more detail could be provided. Ultimately, I do not believe taxes need to be increased. I believe that funds available are not appropriated well. I support a budget smoothing plan that would maintain a level of accountability and savings not currently in place.

Would you support gun control measures?

BB: The 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution must always be considered when addressing any gun legislation. Delaware has strong gun control laws today, and we must ensure that those who commit crimes involving guns are prosecuted appropriately.

RH: If the goal of gun control is to prevent someone who wants to harm themselves or others from having easy access to a gun, then I believe most people could agree with this logic. The reality of life, however, is that true gun control only regulates the responsible gun owner. The person who is motivated to hurt themselves or others will use a gun, a knife, a bomb, a vehicle, or any other means to achieve their goal. At this time, my efforts would be put toward supporting our mental health system and our law enforcement practices.

What changes are needed to policing and the criminal justice system?

BB: We need to provide assistance to Delaware’s law enforcement agencies to outfit officers with body cameras. Beyond policing, our criminal justice system needs to do more for individuals with mental health issues. One initiative I intend to bring forward is to create a mental health program in the Court of Common Pleas.

RH: Again, this question is quite broad. In terms of both law enforcement and the criminal justice system, solving problems can only start with a well thought-out end point. Once the appropriate standards have been established, then thorough evaluations of the current systems will reveal where the cracks lie. Initially, retraining based upon more acceptable best practice cultural standards.

What do you make of the state of race relations in the U.S. and particularly Delaware?

BB: As a state, we must always strive to address inequality wherever we may find it. This requires open and honest discussions about the topic. I’m proud to have voted in favor of legislation to create a statewide African American Task Force, which is currently examining issues of racial inequality in many facets of our society. I am hopeful that through greater communication and the involvement of all communities in our legislative processes, we can make greater strides toward equality and justice.

RH: The truth is that historically, all races have exhibited racism toward those who are different. Though this country is young in its evolution, much progress has been made to correct foundational, systemic bias. It is not unimaginable to believe that more work is still needed to ensure that all people share the same liberties equally and equitably.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

BB: Working with families and neighbors in the 29th District is the most rewarding part of being a state representative. I pledge to always make constituent service my top priority. I am accessible by cell phone, day and night, and will come to your house to discuss any issue that’s on your mind. Lastly, our quality of life in the 29th District is extremely important to me and I will continue to fight to protect it.

RH: I have been a resident of Delaware since 1994. As the owner of a nutrition consulting business, Nutritionally Speaking and a small farm, White Gate Farms. I have worked in every aspect of healthcare: wellness program development, hospice, nursing homes, substance abuse and mental health, assisted-living facilities, as well some private practice work. I come from a family very committed to civic and community involvement.

My leadership skills were developed in high school and college yet honed over the years with my own professional and community involvement. I have always balanced work, volunteerism and family.

During the early days of COVID-19 exposure there were many unknowns: Gov. Carney mandated the need to wear a mask in public or face a misdemeanor charge. This mandate came at a time when we were also discussing the need to open the economy back up.

The incongruence concerned me, particularly when many of my clients still needed to attend their doctor visits in person and they may not have had access to a mask. In response, I held five face mask drives. I collaborated with many locally owned small businesses by giving them an opportunity to sponsor a Mask drive. Many of us were being inundated with new vocabulary related to both the pandemic and to the virus, itself. In response, I wrote a letter to the editor re: new vocabulary in the age of COVID-19.