Q&A: 31st Representative District candidates discuss issues

Name: David Anderson

Party: Republican

Office seeking: 31st district state representative

Age: 49

Occupation: Did not answer

Family: Wife, Jeannie; daughter, Rebecca; son, Levi; stepsons Chris and Justin

Elective experience: 4th District Dover City Council

Name: Sean Lynn

Party: Democrat

Office seeking: 31st district representative

Age: 43

Occupation: Attorney

Family: Wife, Alexis; children MacKenzie, Henry and Kate

Elective experience: District representative since 2014, previously Dover City Council

Why are you running for this office?

DA: I am running because I believe we are at a crossroads in this state. We are better than the results we are getting from the current misrepresentation by the majority party. We are second in the nation in state spending but not in the top 25 in results for just about anything that matters. In Kent County, half of the households make less than $777 a week, which is far below the national average. The ruling party spends over seven months debating whether 5-year-olds should pick their own gender but does not have time to debate Sen. Dave Lawson’s comprehensive school safety bill. They want to tax seniors and job creators into oblivion and would rather raise taxes on working people than enact any meaningful reform.

I want a freer, safer and more prosperous state. I want an education system that benefits the child and gives the teachers dollars in the classroom rather than an expanding bureaucracy. I want a state that focuses on what matters most to the people.

SL: I am running for re-election because I know there is more work to be done on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, in the face of mass incarceration and in a time of rapidly worsening income inequality. Having held this office since 2014, I know the needs of my district and will continue to fight for them with each and every vote I cast.

What would be your top priority if elected?

David Anderson

DA: Jobs, safety, education, the opioid crisis and a government that works for all of its citizens.

SL: My top priority both as a legislator and as an attorney has always been and will continue to be ensuring justice for the citizens of Delaware. There exists an irrefutable racial bias in our policing practices and in our courtrooms. Time and time again, we see that minorities are incarcerated at much higher rates than caucasians. Capital punishment disproportionately affects black American males more than any other demographic, which is why I have always been a staunch opponent of the death penalty. These disparities would not be so great were it not for a lack of upward mobility in some of our most vulnerable communities.

To effectively reform our system of criminal justice, we also need to ensure quality education, affordable housing options and access to quality health care to our constituents. We must interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and reallocate the resources that we spend on incarceration instead into rehabilitation and prevention initiatives.

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

DA: I think that I would start with passing the Lawson school safety bill then go to Treasurer Ken Simpler’s budget reforms. There will be a lot more than one change. It seems like every week there is some job-killing regulation that is outmoded or just plain stupid. I want to see done at the state level what is happening in Dover. I want to see every regulation reviewed based upon one question: Does this make sense today? Not, did it make sense 50 years ago? I want to see a clean slate law so that juveniles and adults with misdemeanors have an expedited clearing of records after 10 years of being free and clear of any other offenses.

SL: The first singular policy that I would like to see changed — because it is so common sense, and we’ve come so close on it — would require motorcyclists to wear helmets. A figure published in May of this year claims that Delaware averages almost one motorcycle crash a day.

There were 20 motorcycle deaths in 2015, up from the 16-per-year figure that prevailed over the last decade. The law already requires that a helmet be present on the vehicle, but the rider is not mandated to wear it. The past two legislative sessions, I worked to pass a bill correcting this legislative oversight with support from advocates within the health care community and two families in Dover — both of which have been affected by a loved one who had incurred severe brain injury. The bill failed each time, as it had before in 2007. It is extremely counterintuitive to me that we cannot pass this legislation on the grounds of governmental intrusion, yet we require seat belts to be worn.

What are your plans to boost economic development?

DA: Modernize regulations to ensure they make sense today. Hold the bureaucracy accountable to stop endless delays. Lower electric rates. We need to claw back the Bloom Energy money unless they keep their promise of jobs. Enforce the agreement. We need to revise the Renewable Portfolio Standard and allow conservation and zero carbon nuclear power to count. We need a robust approach to workforce development with not only our colleges but nonprofits like Goodwill Industry training and the business community. I would love to see a downstate Delaware Skills Center using existing adult vo-tech resources and partners.

We need to upgrade Kent County’s infrastructure. We need a connector to Del. Route 1 and Garrison Technology Park. We need to speed up the process of allowing investment into our Dover Civil Air Terminal to allow cargo shipments. We need to support a data-driven approach to recruitment based upon the services and products we import and could sustain here.

We also must remember that being helpful to a hundred small business gives you more quality jobs than always chasing the big one. We need to keep what we have and allow them to grow and flourish, and we should support local vendors and supplier diversity in our state purchasing.

Sean Lynn

SL: Delaware must continue to foster an environment that is welcoming to businesses of all sizes. We must incentivize small businesses to open up shop across the state while ensuring that Wilmington remains an appealing home for corporations in the financial industry. Entrepreneurs from all fields must be supported, and we need to prioritize attracting graduates from Delaware colleges and universities to remain in the state as they transition into the workforce. To do this, we must invest in post-secondary education and skills training programs throughout the state.

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

DA: We have hundreds of millions in surplus. I support Ken Simpler’s budget smoothing plan. We do not have a revenue problem. The problem is that we rush to spend the money and we often spend it on what pays off special interest groups rather than what benefits the public. We cut nonprofits like fire companies, senior centers, after-school programs and veterans. We will not look at ways to improve the care and cut the cost to Medicaid by adding a direct care model option. That could save us $200 million and improve care.

SL: Our revenue projections routinely overestimate how much money the state brings in each year, which grants the Legislature the ability to allocate far more funding to critical programs and new initiatives than we have available. Instead of cutting the services we provide to our most vulnerable populations, we need to find more sustainable and reliable revenue sources, starting with the reassessment of property taxes. We are doing a disservice to our public school students and county operations by using property values from decades ago.”

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

DA: Yes. I believe decriminalization is the worst option. It leaves a valuable medicine as a semi-legitimate product in the hands of drug dealers who are killing hundreds of our people. Marijuana is not a gateway drug inherently. The gateway is that we allow it to used as an entry level product to build the marketing base of the heroin and crack dealers. It was a dangerous approach. Regulate it, tax it and put half of the money into expanding treatment and prevention of addiction.

Chasing it is a misuse of our resources when fentanyl and heroin are killing our people. Opioids are killing people, not marijuana. About 400 will die from drug overdoses this year, and zero of those are from pot. I have seen people benefit from the medical use. I do not think it should be used recreationally, but I am not willing to ruin someone’s life criminally for doing so. I think education is a better approach.

I strongly support industrial hemp, medical use and ensuring that employers have the right to develop policies that work for them and their employees.

SL: Yes. Far too many Delawareans — past and present — enter the criminal justice system by way of a nonviolent drug offense. Legalizing marijuana will alleviate much of the burden that our law enforcement agencies bear, allowing them to focus on more serious crimes. Additionally, marijuana legalization will add significant and sustainable revenue streams to our state — both through regulation and taxation, as well as in job creation.

What, if any, gun laws would you change?

DA: I would not change many. I would demand enforcement of the laws against criminals. Law-abiding citizens are not part of the problem and passing laws against them makes matters worse. Studies show this fact. Here is what does work according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others. I believe we need to put resources into following up on rejected background checks to ensure people who failed them did not go to the underground market. If they did, prosecute them. If someone is a repeat offender on violating the background check laws, prosecute them.

Support families who know someone is dangerous when they reach out for help. We need to enforce the law that people who injure or kill people with guns serve mandatory time. We have too many mandatory sentences, but those for rape, murder and gun violence make sense. Prisons should protect us from the truly dangerous people. We need to use the technology in connection with old fashion police work. I support Spotshotter technology being deployed where it will be used effectively.

SL: I am in support of enacting common-sense gun legislation, such as a bill I sponsored this past year that requires the safe storage of firearms in the home, House Bill 366.

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

DA: I believe in justice and respect sincerely held views on both sides. My view is we should mend not end it. I had a 17 year-old cousin who was brutally murdered. His body was cut up and thrown in the trash. The people who did that got out on the streets in less than 10 years. That is wrong! It is disgusting. There is no justice here.

We spend so much time hand-wringing about the murderers and so little concern about the families that I visited in the hospital after shootings or comforted on the streets and at events or donated to help with funerals. We have forgotten the laws are to protect the good people. My opponent wants to rewrite the criminal code to benefit the bad ones.

There are problems with the current law. Obviously, I would need to see specifics of a new one to ensure not only procedural due process but substantive due process. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled that due process is whether the procedures were followed, not whether the facts of guilt or innocence are right. I disagree. I think there is no due process without considering any real evidence of innocence in any new law.

SL: No, I am consistently the leading voice against reinstating the death penalty in the state House. The death penalty is an unforgivable and highly ineffective policy to uphold. Capital punishment sentences pose a high cost to the state, as it often takes more than 10 years of litigation to try a capital punishment case. Furthermore, no credible study has ever proven that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to crime.

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

DA: I have insufficient information on this subject.

SL: As the largest employer in Delaware, the state government offers high-quality health insurance coverage to its employees. We need to ensure that state health insurance options are flexible but are cost-controlled so as not to burden the taxpayer. I facilitated negotiations between Highmark and Bayhealth, which extended the enrollment period for state employees who were at risk of losing access to Bayhealth services under Highmark coverage as these organizations were reaching a financial agreement.

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

DA: We need a comprehensive community-based approach like that advocated by the Vines Community Project and the Delaware Goes Purple movement. We need to coordinate education, families, businesses, law enforcement, treatment, the medical community and faith groups to raise awareness of existing resources, develop new approaches, increase our treatment capacity and encourage coverage of alternatives to pain medications such as chiropractic and other proven alternatives.

We need to ensure that people who are reaching out for help get it. We have a model that worked for tobacco. Apply it here.

SL: Addiction is colorblind; it affects every family in one way or another. We as a society are finally starting to transition away from drug abuse as a crime but are now beginning to recognize it as a public health issue that affects individuals in every tax bracket.

While there are treatment options available to those who can afford them, many of our lower income constituents fall victim to undiagnosed and untreated side effects.

Not only do we need to expand access to treatment services and overdose-reversing Narcan, but we need to promote awareness campaigns and support other prevention measures. Another consideration is that the majority of our incarcerated population suffers from addiction or a mental health disorder.

To promote rehabilitation of both body and mind, we need to ensure that this at-risk population is not neglected in the conversation surrounding opioid addiction.

Is there anything else you think is pertinent?

DA: I want our veterans treated better. I want to see the first $25,000 of veterans’ military pensions excluded from the income tax. I want to see matching funds of the veteran’s trust. We should support our Veterans Commission by at least matching what they raise. I will listen to the veteran community. I served this nation in war and I am serving my community here. I am the only one in the race who served in the war zone. I will not forget those who risked all for freedom and the American way of life.

I believe that the open space money is being used as a slush fund to reward supporters of those in power. I want to see that $10 million put to clean water. We need a commitment to maintain our stormwater system, not another tax.

SL: No.


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