Q&A: 32nd Representative District candidates on the issues

Name: Andria Bennett

Party: Democrat

Office seeking: 32nd district

Age: 47

Occupation: Legislator, part-time adjunct instructor at Delaware Technical and Community College

Family: Husband, Brad

Elective experience: Delaware House of Representatives 32nd district representative since 2012

Name: Cheryl Precourt

Party: Republican

Office seeking: House 32nd district

Age: 62

Occupation: Small-business owner providing billing and scheduling services to mental health providers

Family: Married to Bill Precourt with four children and four grandchildren

Elective experience: Served on Caesar Rodney School Board from 2012-2017

Why are you running for this office?

AB: I want to continue to work full-time for the constituents of the 32nd district. Representing the residents of the 32nd district has been my passion.

CP: I have lived in the 32nd district all of my life. I spend a lot of time at Legislative Hall and have noticed that many of the laws passed are brought forward by special interest groups and are not necessarily constituent-driven. I want to bring back constituent-driven representation that will make quality of life better for Delaware families.

What would be your top priority if elected?

AB: If re-elected, my top priority would continue to be the needs of the constituents of the 32nd district. I will continue to be available to residents and help them with any issue or concern.

Cheryl Precourt

CP: Education would be a top priority. Census Bureau data shows that Delaware is in the top ten states for educational spending, yet Delaware colleges report that 53 percent of students entering college need remediation. The way in which the state funds education is outdated and puts our kids at a disadvantage before they even get into the classroom because current funding does not consider current populations. I believe that local teachers, parents, administrators and school boards know firsthand what their district needs and this should be given serious consideration when making education reform.

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

AB: Did not answer.

CP: It would be to repeal the Bloom Energy deal. It is harmful for citizens and business. The company has breached its end of the contract yet continues to receive taxpayer dollars via tariffs and increased utility bills.

What are your plans to boost economic development?

AB: A key to boosting economic development in Delaware would be evaluating the state’s tax and regulatory structure so it supports a business-friendly environment that encourages job growth. Competitive tax rates (income, sales, property, gross receipts, etc.) make a difference. We need to assess our overall tax climate and make sure that we improve our tax competitiveness structure. We also need to be aware of whether hurdles regarding permits, registration and other bureaucratic requirements interfere with business/job creation and eliminate unnecessary burdens to business that will help foster positive job growth. Across the board, we need to expand access to higher education and skill training programs for those choose not to attend college, so that all Delawareans have the qualifications needed to participate in the workforce. Investing in infrastructure will help create jobs.

CP: We need to provide an environment to attract and retain business. We need to lower our corporate tax so that business owners can compete with surrounding states. Delaware is one of only six states that with a corporate tax and a gross receipts tax. Utilities and taxes on utilities are high for business owners. We need to look at regulation and make adjustments to make us business friendly and we need to avoid making deals like Bloom Energy.

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

Andria Bennett

AB: Residents of Delaware are tired of essential programs getting cut and being the victim of wasteful, inefficient governing. I want to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. Instead of cutting funding for critical education initiatives or infrastructure projects, we should strive to eliminate waste and develop innovative strategies to make those tax dollars go further. As a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee, I am constantly looking to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies or redundancies among state agencies.

CP: I believe that in years when we have revenue that exceeds projections we need to put it aside to cover years when projections are not met. I also believe that the first item the Legislature should address during session is the budget and it needs to be finalized well before June 30th. We need to take a look at each agency and their effectiveness. Are they duplicating services already provided at a local level? I will commit to spending cuts over tax increases.

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

AB: Yes, I supported House Bill 110, the marijuana legalization legislation. If Delaware legalizes marijuana, it can be taxed and regulated and could increase revenue. From a fiscal perspective, it is also important to remember that a large portion of our incarcerated population eats up taxpayer money while being jailed for nonviolent drug offenses. We need to work closely with other states that have legalized marijuana and learn from their mistakes.

CP: I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. I believe in safety first. Marijuana does not break down in the body the same as alcohol, which makes chemical testing results of little or no use in determining impairment. This leaves law enforcement and business owners without a way to determine if a person is impaired on the road or at work.

What, if any, gun laws would you change?

AB: Gun laws were a huge issue this past session. This past year we passed landmark legislation that preserved Second Amendment rights while addressing mental health and gun safety. Working together on this issue is critical, and, as with every piece of legislation is introduced, I will listen to the constituents of the 32nd district.

CP: I would like to see our state enforce the current laws for unlawful possession. Currently, many gun charges are dropped during plea bargain.

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

AB: This is an emotional topic that has many implications. I will continue to listen to the district on this issue.

CP: I will vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty. It would need to be a narrow scope to include such instances where:

1. The victim was a peace officer or fireman lawfully engaged in the performance of their duties.

2. The person intentionally committed the murder while committing another crime such as kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction, etc.

3. The person committed the murder for some type of compensation or the promise of compensation.

4. The person committed the murder while attempting to escape or escaping from a penal institution.

5. The person committed the murder while incarcerated.

6. The victim was an individual under the age of 10.

When Lt. Steven Floyd was murdered during the prison riots in February 2017, some of those alleged to have committed the crime were previously on death row before the constitutionality issue. The death penalty may not be a deterrent, however once carried out it keeps that individual from ever harming another individual.

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

AB: The state employee health insurance program is very costly to the state. While we should ensure that our state employees are provided with the highest quality health care services, we need to implement some cost-control measures while not decreasing benefits.

CP: State employee health care structure needs to be given serious attention, not avoided. Commercial premiums are rapidly rising, copayments and deductibles are rapidly rising and post-employment benefits are an unfunded liability. We need to work together and not politicize this issue. All stakeholders should be given equal consideration when coming together to find a solution.

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

AB: We must shift away from viewing addiction strictly as a criminal offense. It is public health crisis. While we must be sure to expand access to treatment and rehabilitation resources, it is also critical to focus on prevention. I think we have made strides in the past two years expanding access to treatment, making changes to the Prescription Monitoring Program and the statewide initiatives that include Narcan education, but I believe we still have a long way to go.

CP: Delaware is currently putting the focus on making additional treatment facilities a top priority and this is a good first step. Delaware also has the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which greatly limits the amount of opioids that a person can get at a time. Those in addiction, however, will switch from legal to illegal drugs to continue in their habit and those not in addiction are finding it difficult to get the medication they need without continual monitoring, blood and urine screens and having to take time off of work to get the medication they need.

It is family and friends that have direct access to those who are dealing with addiction. Many with addiction many not be ready to enter a treatment center. We need to be honest about what can be done. Under most circumstances, adults cannot be forced into treatment. Providing coping and life skills via mental health and education for these families is needed so that when their loved one is truly ready they have a plan.

Is there anything else you think is pertinent?

AB: I think we need to do a better job of working together for the good of all the residents of Delaware and get away from the emphasis on party politics.

CP: Did not answer.

 

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