Election 2020: 37th Representative District

Editor’s note: Rep. Briggs King is unopposed.

Name: Ruth Briggs King

Party: Republican

Age: 64

Family: Married to Stanley with two adult sons and six grandchildren

Residence: Georgetown

Occupation: Human Resources and Strategic Leadership Consultant

Why are you running for this seat?

RK: It is an honor to serve and work in our district and I want to continue the work I have started. I am very engaged on so many issues and wish to continue to work on those important and complex issues for our district.

We are in a difficult and challenging time; therefore, my experience and desire to problem solve using my vast experience is most helpful in the decision process. I am fortunate to have developed and extended my network of contacts that enables me to know who to call and when to call to get answers or seek solutions.

I enjoy helping businesses and people navigate their issues to get answers and resolve their problems. I think this is the time for proven leadership and knowledge to move us forward and I have both to offer.

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

Ruth Briggs King

RK: Major issues always include protecting, promoting, and preserving the lives and livelihoods of the constituents in my district and in Delaware. The COVID pandemic has created a huge impact on everyone and we must have an open dialogue between the people and the bureaucrats overseeing many levels of our state government. We need to move ahead with a clearly identified and explained plan for recovery. One cannot forget to highlight the significance of broadband expansion — an issue I championed and fought for long before the pandemic.

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

RK: In my opinion, one-party rule in Delaware has prevented this state from moving past too many recurring issues such as poverty, criminal justice reform, business expansion, and improved education. Delaware is identified as one of the most partisan states in the nation. Too many issues are decided by politics and not policies. Too many issues are deemed unworthy based on party affiliation.

The current COVID pandemic is another example of how too many executive orders are issued with confusing or contradicting edicts. One side does not have all the ideas or all the answers.

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

RK: In the beginning, no one wanted to be critical or outspoken about the many issues that were challenging the response and “readiness” to combat a major health threat. The suspension of regular government practices and meetings disassociated and silenced those who should be a viable and valuable voice for the people. Most elected officials were “shut out” of any discussion: we simply read the next news after it was released to the public.

We receive the questions; however, we were not able to question, suggest, or improve upon any decisions dictated by advisors. Essentially, the legislature has been “sidelined.” COVID 19 is now a chronic (ongoing) issue requires a long-term view and action plan.

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

RK: The answer to this question is overly complex and I have a long list of key improvements to be implemented. The major response is effective communication and inclusion of all health and wellness providers in the First State. As mentioned earlier, there has been little opportunity for legislators to offer suggestions or input on the issues and concerns, as well as potential solutions to help keep Delaware open and prepared for health events.

From the onset, key concerns such as those most vulnerable populations — long term and assisted care residents and workers, institutionalized individuals such as those incarcerated — require special considerations for care at their facilities we noted. Yet, I received “canned” information and lack the ability to freely ask questions on a “Zoom call” when you have less than 30 minutes for 62 individuals all seeking to be recognized.

Ineffective and dismissive attitudes on many occasions results in mistrust and misinformation. Many health care providers and community providers were not included in key functions and discussions. Our health care system can and will rapidly respond to emergency and unusual situations. In fact, they train on this process through FEMA.

DHSS is too big to manage all the facets of a crisis of this multitude. Identify reliable source and relationship for reference and support before the situation arises, what model was appropriate, what was capacity, more questions than answers.

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

RK: Most people have learned that schools do so much more than educate our students. They provide meals, a haven, access to nurses, and a social environment that children need to learn and grow on many levels. While educators have quickly worked to adapt and offer instruction, it cannot and will not replace the learning methods and tools used in a classroom setting. Additionally, parents (teachers included) are struggling to work and teach with limited resources and time available.

Schools cannot require students to have certain vaccinations or other health screening prior to admission and schools had to adjust to potential health threats for many years. The school environment has always been a fertile place for germs to spread. But many families engage in activities in and out of their homes that present similar risks. Many students will be safer returning to a regulated environment.

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

RK: The Delaware Department of Labor should clear the “pending claims” for unemployed and underemployed citizens. I have worked diligently to assist constituents with claim issues. Many have gone months waiting for their funds. Many small businesses will not realize any benefit from the different grants, and we need to help them “reopen” and make safe determinations for their business to recover.

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

RK: I have watched state spending increase each year since 2009. This is not sustainable and Delaware taxpayers should expect more for their investment in Delaware programs. Increased spending to address poverty has resulted in more poverty and increased spending in education does not reach all children.

A strong strategic plan that is focused on multiple years should be in place rather than “year to year’ special interests. The budget smoothing plan, supported by many Republicans and Gov. Carney could not pass legislatively, but Joint Finance ensured it was included in the budget and it was a big asset during budgeting in the pandemic.

Would you support gun control measures?

RK: I believe Delaware has adequate existing laws to protect the rights of our citizens and our public interest. The issue should focus on people, especially criminals, who break the law and physically harm others and their community. Too much leniency on criminals means illegal possession of firearms and the use of those firearms in the commission of crimes.

It is well known that prosecutors quickly remove any weapons violation from the charges. Additionally, laws are “window dressing” if the attorney general and courts uphold unlawful conduct.

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

RK: We need to evaluate and make data-driven decisions before rushing to make change that may not be needed. Our community has confidence in our law enforcement personnel. I have attended numerous events this year, organized by local groups and to quote one organizer, “We love our local law enforcement. They protect us and work with us to build stronger communities.” I was selected to serve on the Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force, and we are having an open and authentic discussion on various topics, including recruitment, training, and accountability.

Effective communication and community engagement are key elements to mutual understanding and increasing awareness and confidence on all levels.

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

RK: I cannot speak to the actual state of race relations in the U.S, since our knowledge is based on media reports, which often focus on sensational events rather than an in-depth review.

Many issues that surface stem from the lack of respect and tolerance for the differences in our races and ethnicity. The issue is sensitive and means different things to different people. I believe Delaware has unique issues based on geography and population. Issues in Georgetown are different than those in Wilmington or Dover.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

RK: Did not answer.