Electon 2020: Governor candidates’ surveys

Name: John Carney

Party: Democrat

Age: 64

Family: Wife, Tracey; two sons, Sam and Jimmy

Residence: Wilmington

Occupation: Current governor of the state of Delaware

Name: Julianne Murray

Party: Republican

Age: 50

Family: Husband, Patrick

Residence: Seaford

Occupation: Attorney

Name: Kathy DeMatteis

Party: Independent Party of Delaware

Age: Did not answer

Family: Did not answer

Residence: Did not answer

Occupation: Did not answer

Name: John Machurek

Party: Libertarian

Age: Did not answer

Family: Did not answer

Residence: Did not answer

Occupation: Did not answer

Why are you running for this seat?

JC: Despite the challenges we face, we have proven in Delaware that we can set politics aside and get big things done. We invested in public schools and passed the largest infrastructure program in Delaware history. We acted responsibly with taxpayer dollars and created a $125 million reserve fund in good times to prepare for a crisis like we face today. Delaware needs a leader with experience bringing people together around a common cause. For more than 30 years, I have worked for the people of Delaware and have taken on the biggest challenges we face. In a second term, I will continue to bring Delawareans together around issues that matter to every community: public education, jobs and quality of life. I strongly believe that Delaware will get through this COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever before — if we continue to work together.

JM: I am running for this seat because I believe the incumbent has failed to address the issues facing the state. He is a career politician who awards his donors and the lobbyists in Dover, and he has lost touch with the citizens of Delaware. In 2016, he stated that solving Wilmington’s crime problem would be one of his top priorities. Today, four years later, the crime rate is higher, and the city is ranked as the ninth most dangerous in the nation. The governor said he would tackle education issues, particularly in Wilmington, and he has failed to do so. He said attracting and encouraging small businesses would be a top priority, yet he has done nothing on that front. Even worse, due to his COVID lockdown, small businesses have been crippled, while the big businesses with lobbyists in Dover are thriving. Our economy is worse now than four years ago.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

What do you see as the major issues in this election?

JC: COVID-19 is still active in Delaware communities, and confronting the threat of an unprecedented global pandemic remains our most urgent priority. Delawareans have taken this threat seriously and have taken basic health precautions to keep our most vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors healthy. Continuing to follow basic science will help us get more Delawareans back to work and more Delaware children back in school. We have an obligation to educate our children and provide additional resources to the students and educators who need our help the most. And we will continue to focus on rebuilding our economy and investing in small businesses that have made real sacrifices during this crisis. Small businesses and their workers are the backbone of our economy, and we owe them our support.

JM: I see the major issues in this election being getting the economy moving again, bringing balance and accountability into the state government and lowering taxes. For 28 years, this state has been dominated by one-party rule in the governorship, and for much of that time, all branches have been dominated by one party. We need balance in this state, and I will bring that balance and accountability to the governorship.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: Protecting public health during this COVID-19 pandemic continues to be our greatest challenge right now. Our goals are to get more children back in school and more Delaware workers back on the job. But we have to do it safely. We can’t have a strong economy without healthy communities. That’s why we’ve been focused on communicating the basic health precautions — mask wearing, social distancing — and following the science. We should listen to the public health experts and take their advice seriously during a pandemic. That’s just common sense. In a second term, I will continue to follow the science and focus first on protecting lives.

JM: The biggest issue facing Delaware is our economy. Nearly 30% of all small businesses in the state are closed permanently, and that number is on the rise. Unemployment is at record highs. This economic crisis was happening in the state long before COVID — we were predicted to have a recession in 2020, even though the rest of the country was in an economic boom. I would encourage small business growth through my Small Business Bill of Rights and big business growth by letting the world know that Delaware is open for business. Delaware has been losing businesses and their jobs to other states due to the difficult permitting process. Within the first 100 days, I will expedite the state’s permitting process. I will cut the red tape strangling economic growth.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

What would you like to see the state do differently in regard to COVID-19?

JC: Since Day One of this crisis, Delaware’s response to COVID-19 has been guided by the science and focused first and foremost on protecting lives. We will continue to take that approach. Consistent with recommendations from the experts at the Division of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we built robust COVID-19 testing and contact tracing programs before opening portions of our economy. We aggressively test and trace in potential outbreak areas to better understand community spread of this virus. We will also continue to communicate the importance of basic health precautions. The vast majority of Delawareans are wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, physically distancing and washing their hands frequently. Those basic precautions will help keep our most vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors healthy. We also make information and data about COVID-19 easily accessible for Delawareans at de.gov/coronavirus and de.gov/healthycommunity. Transparency and good information around community spread in Delaware helps keep our communities healthy.

JM: I think the state needs to reopen. My heart goes out to everyone who has had COVID-19 or lost a family member due to it. Yet, at the same time, I do not believe we should give into fear. In my recent debate with Gov. Carney, he stated that some of his decisions regarding COVID-19 were based upon fear. That is not a way to govern — we need to stop the hysteria.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: This pandemic has laid bare many of the inequities in our society that existed long before COVID-19. Delawareans in minority communities and in poor rural communities still do not have equal access to quality health care. That is true nationally and in our state, and it needs to change. In the last four years, we have worked hard to lower the cost of health care, expand access to health coverage and codify protections of the Affordable Care Act in Delaware law — including protections for those with preexisting conditions. Coming out of this pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to make sure all Delaware families have access to quality, affordable health care.

JM: Our health care workers and first responders have been heroes in this crisis. We need to protect those who are the most vulnerable to the disease and also take sensible precautions. However, I think we need to find a way for loved ones to see their hospitalized family members.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: I believe this is the most difficult issue we have faced throughout this crisis because, despite COVID-19, all Delaware children deserve access to a high-quality education. We have focused on helping school leaders navigate the difficult challenges of returning to school safely during a pandemic. Our top priority is the safety of all Delaware students, educators and staff. The bottom line is: We cannot get students and educators back in school if we can’t do so safely. We have assigned public health liaisons to Delaware schools and provided comprehensive, data-driven guidance to school leaders. We will continue to support students, educators and school leaders to make sure we get this right.

JM: I believe we should reopen our schools. It makes no sense doing a hybrid model or totally virtual school when we let day cares operate in our schools and have even allowed football games to resume. Studies show that the best education is through in-class instruction. Students pay better attention, and also, the potential for cheating is lowered, thus ensuring they are better educated to face the challenges of the 21st century.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: This COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy and jobs in Delaware and across our country. The single best way to get Delawareans back to work and get our children back in school is to seriously confront the threat of COVID-19. We cannot have a healthy economy without healthy communities. But we also owe our support to Delaware families who have lost jobs and income and Delaware small businesses who have made real sacrifices throughout this crisis. We recently announced a $40 million housing assistance program to help Delawareans pay their mortgages or rent and stay in their homes. We’re investing $20 million to expand access to high-speed broadband service. We launched a $100 million grant program — DE Relief — to provide real assistance to keep Delaware small businesses afloat during this challenging time. We’ve added another $10 million to help Delawareans get training for jobs that are in demand. Small businesses and their workers are the backbone of our economy. We owe them our support.

JM: The best thing they can do is reopen the state. This will lead to hiring and economic growth in the state.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: Before this pandemic, we worked with the General Assembly to create a $125 million reserve fund to protect Delaware during economic downturns and budget shortfalls. That sound fiscal leadership helped us balance our budget without cutting important services or raising taxes on Delaware families and businesses. We also invested one-time revenue in public infrastructure — new roads and bridges, high-speed broadband service, clean-water projects and farmland preservation. And, despite the crisis, we are providing historic resources to low-income students, young English learners and the educators who work with those children each day. Delawareans rightly expect us to manage their tax dollars wisely. We will continue to protect taxpayer dollars and make investments in education and our economy where we can make the most difference.

JM: We need to lower it. Our state government spends over $4 billion annually. Are we getting our money’s worth? To create more accountability, I will work to include evidence requirements in budget instructions for state agencies. This evidence-based budgeting will ensure that funding is supported by research and data. It will determine the anticipated return on investment by comparing costs versus benefits. As a result, our state government will be far more effective rather than being driven by bureaucracy. I will create a sunset commission to review agencies, grants, programs, etc., to ensure that they are still relevant and that they have not outlived their purpose.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

Would you support gun control measures?

JC: Too many American families have been devastated by gun violence, and it’s long past time for Congress and the president to seriously take on this issue. In Delaware, we have done just that. We have worked with student advocates and moms demanding action to save lives. We passed red-flag laws, including the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, to keep firearms out of the hands of those intent on harming themselves or others. We banned bump stocks, increased penalties for straw purchases of firearms and invested in new school safety infrastructure. We should ban assault weapons in our state because weapons of war have no place in our communities. In Wilmington, we are working with city leaders and social service agencies on a new approach to gun violence through our Group Violence Intervention Program. We are intervening with group-involved individuals before violence happens and offering a new path, with assistance accessing social and employment services. We believe this proactive approach can make a real difference for Wilmington families, who should not have to live with the fear of gun violence in their communities.

JM: No, I would not. I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: We need to get serious about policing reform to rein in abuses of power. That was made plainly clear again with the horrific shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We signed an executive order to require additional de-escalation and mental health services for law enforcement. We worked with the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus to ban the use of chokeholds, and we are currently considering additional reforms to Delaware’s use-of-force policies. I know law enforcement in Delaware — and I know we also need them at the table in these discussions. The vast majority of Delaware officers are in it for the right reasons. They do not condone abuses of power, and they want better relationships with the communities they serve. It’s our obligation to improve those relationships — especially between law enforcement and communities of color.

JM: I support our law enforcement 100%. I believe that Delaware has the best men and women in blue in the nation. If there are bad cops, of course, they need to be removed and never police again — this will build trust within the communities, so that law enforcement and the communities can work together.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

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

JC: This is a difficult time, and it’s made more challenging by a lack of leadership from the White House. We have an ugly history around race in Delaware and our country, and we need to acknowledge that history if we hope to move forward and make progress. I have spent much of the last several months listening, talking to Delawareans about the challenges we face and attempting to chart a productive path forward. I’ve heard the pain, anguish and frustration of so many Delawareans. It’s the obligation of those in positions of power to listen, but also to take action to heal the wounds of our past.

JM: We were all sickened by what we saw in May with the George Floyd case in Minneapolis and what we have seen in other major cities. I believe we must continue to work to improve racial relations in Delaware. This means working to improve our education system, reducing crime and encouraging entrepreneurism in our minority communities.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

How would you summarize President Donald Trump’s tenure?

JC: The most disheartening thing for me over the last four years is President Trump’s constant attempts to divide Americans. Whether it’s over economic issues, social and racial equality, immigration or so much more, the president has always chosen to put politics first and his own interests before those of the American people. It has been even more evident over the last seven months, where the lack of leadership at the national level and the constant undercutting by the president of the basic science around fighting COVID has made it significantly harder to beat this pandemic. I am hopeful that, as a state and a nation, we can move on from this style of politics and begin to come back together as Americans.

JM: This gubernatorial election isn’t about Donald Trump. It is about the incumbent and his “Delaware Way” that rewards donors and lobbyists. When I campaign across the state, voters are concerned about Delaware and how to fix this state. They believe that Delaware is worse off now than it was four years ago because of John Carney. They worry about keeping their businesses open, paying their bills and mortgages, educating their children and personal safety. They are concerned about how John Carney has failed and how can we fix Delaware?

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

Are you concerned about the legitimacy of this election?

JC: I am not. The Delaware Department of Elections is doing an excellent job of ensuring that every registered Delawarean has a safe, secure and convenient way to vote. Whether it’s through traditional in-person voting or the state’s new vote-by-mail system, Delawareans have more options than ever before to make their voices heard and a goal that we should constantly try to achieve and improve on.

JM: Yes. We have seen far too often how fraud has occurred with the use of mail-in ballots. Just look at the New Jersey case, where criminal prosecutions are occurring due to the use of mail-in ballots. Additionally, how many times have we had something get lost in the mail? Do we want to risk our vote to the postal system’s reliability?

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

JC: I know this is a difficult and challenging time for Delaware families. We face unprecedented challenges from this pandemic and historic debates about racial justice and equality. Despite the challenges we face in our state and country, it’s been a real privilege to serve as your governor these last four years. I know that we can come together, meet the challenges of our time and make Delaware an even better state in which to live, work and raise a family.

JM: Yes, I do. After four years of John Carney, are you better off now than you were four years ago? We are out of balance because of career politicians like John Carney, who are completely out of touch with Delawareans. I am in this race so that Delawareans have a choice for a fresh start and to restore balance to this state. Balance isn’t just Republican versus Democrat. It is “we the people” versus “career politicians.” I hope that you will vote for me.

KD: Did not answer.

JM (Libertarian): Did not answer.