Q&A: U.S. Senate candidates address the issues

Name: Robert Arlett
Party: Republican
Age: 51
Occupation: Owner, Beach Bound Realty
Family: Wife, Lorna; adult children, Justin and Jared
Elective experience: Councilman, Sussex County Council (2014-present)

Name: Tom Carper
Party: Democrat
Age: 71
Occupation: U.S. senator
Family: My wife, Martha, and I have been married more than 30 years. We have two sons, Chris and Ben, and I have a stepson, Greg, who has four children of his own.
Elective experience: Current U.S. senator (2001-present) and former state treasurer, U.S. congressman, and governor of Delaware

Name: Nadine Frost
Party: Libertarian
Age: 52
Occupation: Financial adviser
Family: Yes
Elective experience: None

Name: Demitri Theodoropoulos
Party: Green
Age: 52
Occupation: Owner/Engineer Wonderland Records and Studios
Family: Single
Elective experience: Never elected to office but active in multiple causes

Why are you running for this office?

RA: I decided to run because I am fed up with our current representation and the lack of care for the citizens of our state and our country. How many more jobs do we need to lose, how much more does our health care need to increase and how many more families need to be hurt before Delaware wakes up and demand change?

Is this someone we really want to reelect into the US Senate after 42 years of public service and is now a millionaire? I will reform Big Pharma and health care to ensure that both pharma and insurance compete for our business. Our health care costs have devastated families and small business and turn away big business from operating in our state.

TC: I am running to continue to grow our economy, protect our environment and provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans.

NF: I believe it is time for a change in Washington D.C. “Fresh eyes”, if you will. There are too many career politicians who have traveled to D.C. and essentially never came back. They are out of touch with the needs of their constituents because they have cordoned themselves off with other career politicians, special interests and bureaucrats who are not working for the American people but instead themselves.

DT: Our federal government is broken and no longer is for the people. I intend to change that

What would be your top priority if elected?

RA: My top priority if elected is to author or cosponsor a repeal of the 1987 Safe Harbor statute. This statue has allowed the creation of a rebate (actually a kickback) program for prescription drugs and medical services. Far too many are paying way too much for health care and prescription drugs eating in their budget. The incumbent has received too many campaign donations from Big Pharma to be effective in being able to address this issue.

TC: My top priority is to provide all Americans with high-quality, affordable health care. For years, however, the Affordable Care Act — legislation I helped to author — has been under attack by congressional Republicans fixated on repealing the bill without a replacement, and, more recently, by the Trump administration and its systematic sabotage of our health care system.

I have fought President Trump and congressional Republicans’ cruel attempts to decrease health care coverage and raise costs every step of the way. Instead, I have stressed the importance of working together in Congress to stabilize the individual insurance exchanges to provide immediate cost relief, as well as expanding Medicaid across the country. I have also authored legislation to stabilize the ACA’s individual marketplace and lower premiums.

NF: Reign in the insane spending spree that the federal government has been on since WWII.

DT: Campaign finance reform. Big money out of politics. It’s the root cause of most governmental problems.

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

RA: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. This act continues to cause health care insurance plans to be affordable for far too money. I want to go to Washington to expand the health insurance market so we have more providers, which will bring lower health insurance premiums for all. Affordable health care is one of the drivers used by businesses to evaluate where to establish or grow. Right now, Delaware’s health insurance costs are one of the highest in the nation deterring business growth here.

TC: We must address climate change and sea level rise by moving toward a clean energy future that creates green manufacturing jobs and strengthens our economy. Climate change is not only real, it’s a direct threat to Delaware’s coastal communities, businesses and economy. I believe that making the United States the global leader in renewable energy is a win-win-win for our environment, economy and public health.

Two policies that I have worked on that will make a difference are regulating automobile emissions and fuel economy standards and supporting the Clean Power Plan. Unfortunately, the current administration chose to weaken — or even scrap — these regulations this year. I believe it is in the best interest of all parties, and our planet, for all the stakeholders to come to the table and find a workable solutions.

NF: Continuing Resolutions (coupled with omnibus spending bills).

DT: Citizens United, which allows a non-human entity to have First Amendment rights and give as much as they want to influence political elections.

How would you work with Delaware officials and members of Congress?

RA: First, out of mutual shared responsibility on matters of national (border/port) security, economic growth and immigration. As a United States senator, there needs to be a federal and state dialogue to set up the roles and responsibilities of each government.

TC: I describe the “Delaware Way” as four Cs: communication, compromise, collaboration and civility. We don’t do enough of that in our nation’s capital, and we are worse off as a Congress and as a country because of it. That’s why I try to bring the Delaware Way with me every day on the train from Wilmington to Washington. I also sometimes call myself a “recovering governor” and, if reelected, I will add to the nearly 500,000 miles on my minivan and continue working with Delawareans and local officials to improve our state.

NF: I can’t honestly answer that until I discover how they would be willing to work with me. I’m open to rational arguments for policies and programs, but if ideology is going to be the deciding factor in decision making, regardless of statistics, factual information and evidence, I may have some difficulty.

DT: Spending time talking with the legislators and understanding their point of view on things. That way we can truly work together and not just say bipartisan because we massively compromised. There are smart people in all the parties and we should all work for us, the American people. Same team, which has been forgotten.

How would you grade the Trump administration so far?

RA: As with any presidency, incomplete. Running a government is a continual cycle, so grading any administration prematurely is foolish. I will say that I applaud the enthusiasm for our nation, growth of our economy and commitment to keeping America safe.

TC: D, for disappointing. President Trump promised to be a president for all Americans. Unfortunately, he has repeatedly broken that promise since he took office by worsening partisan divisions and pursuing an extreme agenda that endangers protections for the nearly 400,000 Delawareans with preexisting conditions.

Moreover, too many Trump Cabinet officials — whether it’s Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, or Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice — actively undermine the mission of the agencies they lead. Other Trump cabinet officials have been mired in ethical scandals, including lavish spending on private jets and other misuses of taxpayer dollars.

NF: Some good, some not so much.

DT: C-. Done some good things but others not so good. I think everyone can agree on this.

What are your plans to boost economic development?

RA: First, we must make the 2017 individual tax cuts permanent. Not making these tax cuts permanent will affect the small businesses around the country that pay taxes as individuals, preventing them from reinvesting in the company and their workforce.

Second, we must look at how we measure employment and unemployment. The current unemployment statistics published each month do not tell the complete story. Current unemployment statistics only measure against existing unemployment claims. As people fall off unemployment claims, the unemployment rate drops. We need to look at the labor participation rate, which measures what percentage of Americans are actually employed.Understanding that, we can address meaningful economic development.

Third, we must continue to remove federal regulations that inhibit business development and growth. Great progress has been made since 2017, but we must continue. Fourth, at the federal level we can embrace infrastructure projects.

TC: We need to expand economic opportunity for all Americans, not just those at the top. I believe that starts with strong federal investments in public education, beginning with early education and continuing through college and job-training programs. It also means robust federal investments in roads, highways, bridges and other critical parts of our infrastructure. I believe we must continue to move toward a clean energy future that creates green manufacturing jobs while protecting the environment and public health.

Taken together, I believe these initiatives will help create the nurturing environment for job creation that will ensure Delaware has a world-class workforce that attracts employers and continuously adapts to an evolving, 21st century global economy.

NF: I am a proponent of free markets. If businesses are capable of turning a profit, expanding and thus increasing employment, that will boost economic development on its own. It is when government gets into the business of picking winners and losers (which it has an abhorrent record of doing) that the economy stagnates.

DT: There is one thing this country needs pretty desperately: infrastructure repair. To do this we need skilled labor that will pay well. By cutting very little from each governmental department (2 percent) and cutting waste we could fund a training program that would train an “infrastructure army” to repair what needs to be fixed, in turn the wages would be livable, raising our tax base and allowing more skilled labor hiring. I have read in publications such as the Economist that it may take 40 years to rebuild and as such we can have two generations of training and better wages which will feed on itself.

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

RA: At this time, I do not support federal legalization for marijuana for recreational use beyond the legalized use of medical marijuana by several states. While states evaluate the legality of medical and recreational marijuana use, marijuana remains a federal Schedule I narcotic. The evaluation must study the short and long-term impacts on health, ability to work, propensity to crime and impact to family. As a senator in Washington, I want to review the empirical data on marijuana use and impact on health and crime.

TC: I support decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. I believe marijuana legalization is a decision best left up to individual states for the time being.

NF: Yes. Prohibition is always accompanied by black markets. We have spent my ENTIRE LIFETIME in an ongoing “war on drugs” which has made ZERO headway in defeating criminal enterprises, because it was the prohibitions put in place by government that created the atmosphere that encourages those criminal enterprises (See: Al Capone). Marijuana is a gateway drug, all right — a gateway to drug dealers and thus to more dangerous substances.

Cut the connection to the drug dealers by providing safe avenues of procurement, and there will be a visible downturn in drug-related crimes. Our criminal justice system is overwhelmed with the prosecution of minor offenses, and our prisons are overcrowded with people who harmed no one. They will remain broken until we recognize that this is a disastrous policy.

DT: Cannabis should be legalized and taxed and regulated like alcohol. This tax money should be earmarked for education (60 percent) and police training (40 percent) and not wasted on some general fund that’s used unwisely most of the time. On a federal level at the very least it should be removed from Schedule I. This way, medical research on this plant (yes, it’s just a plant) could be done by schools and other research programs without fear of losing federal government funding.

I would block, however, any law that gives the big pharmaceutical companies any advantage with cannabis and its compounds.

What, if any, gun laws would you change?

RA: The Second Amendment remains the law of the land since 1791. The only change I would support at this time is to enact a federal national reciprocity program for concealed carry permit holders. This would allow concealed permit holders to be recognized nationwide, eliminating the possibility of one being charged in another state for alleged non-compliance. The driver’s license should be the model for national concealed carry permit. Our judicial system is overburdened as it is, and one should not be punished while traveling, visiting or working in one state when they followed the law in their home state.

TC: I support several commonsense policies to reduce gun violence, including expanding and strengthening background checks, as well as banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. We need to strengthen the FBI background check system to include all gun sales, whether these transactions take place online or at gun shows.

We also need to expand background checks to deny firearm sales to suspected terrorists on the “No Fly” list and to other dangerous individuals. I believe that assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines are meant for war zones, not our schools, churches and movie theaters. Congress should renew the Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004.

NF: I like constitutional carry and concealed carry reciprocity.

DT: You can’t make a gun illegal, because it’s a slippery slope to all guns being illegal. What we need to do is make sure the wrong individuals do not get guns. I have a plan for this but it is too long for this questionnaire. It entails a training program similar to those for a concealed carry permit.

What should be done to combat the country’s drug crisis?

RA: First, the easiest and quickest remedy is to enforce the existing laws against medical professionals who do not take their oath seriously and overprescribe medication without proper controls. Second, we need to remain vigilant on border and port security as illicit drugs enter our nation through legal means. Just within the past few months several shipments of illicit drugs were detected at the Port of Wilmington, right here in Delaware.

We must continue with education on the issues with use of illicit drug use. Illicit drug use usually — but not always — follows abuse or addiction of prescription drugs, so this is an issue we must address at all levels of government. We can start with dialogue and input from federal, state and local entities to review what has been, what worked, what hasn’t and go from there.

But we must come up with a plan of action for all levels of government to combat this health issue.

TC: In Delaware, we have seen the devastating impact of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Hundreds of our loved ones and neighbors have lost their loves to fatal overdoses. This is a public health emergency that continues to lead to tragedy for too many families. In response, we need to ensure health care providers have the resources and funding they need to save lives and help people recover from this deadly disease.

Medicaid pays the lion’s share of funding for substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery programs here in Delaware and across the country, which is why we need to continue protecting Medicaid from Congressional Republicans’ relentless efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dismantle the Medicaid expansion.

In addition to supporting preventative care and treatments for those who are suffering with addiction and substance abuse disorders, I believe we need to work resourcefully to stop the inflow of these deadly drugs into our communities. I worked with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on a yearlong bipartisan investigation of how synthetic opioids are coming into our communities through the international mail system. The bipartisan report we published uncovered how alarmingly easy it is to buy deadly drugs like fentanyl online, as we traced shipments from China to buyers in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Finally, I will mention just a few other steps we can take: ending the stigmatization individuals with addictions face, improving mental health and substance abuse treatment, increasing medication-assisted treatment and promoting access to alternative treatments for pain that do not involve opioids.

NF: See the above answer for marijuana.

DT: There are many drugs that are a problem but this crisis is about opiates, and it’s probably the worst in our recent history. The root cause of this is prescription opiates/opiods. The pharmaceutical industry is to blame as those that run the companies have manipulated doctors and lied to us about the addictiveness of these drugs. These executives should be held accountable and punished.

If these drugs are going to continue to be sold there should be required warnings about how addictive they are and doctors should be required to warn their patients. There are two “60 Minutes” episodes that show how this was done and have more detail than I can write here.

We need to help the people that have fallen victim to this by creating long term rehab programs and these programs should be paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Any legislator that takes money from the pharmaceutical industry should be ashamed of themselves because they are part of the problem.

What, if anything, should be done to address the state of race relations in the United States?

RA: First, every member of Congress must be willing to have town halls to address race with their constituents. With each town hall, we must focus on addressing the underlying issues, such as unemployment, disparity of income, education and crime. For the last sixty years, we have been running the same playbook and we need to do something different.

We need to bring in role models like Ben Carson, who came from nothing to become a renowned surgeon and secretary of a federal department. Through his testimony, we can inspire communities and encourage them to embrace the American dream.

America is the land of opportunity if everyone is on the same team, and this is the path forward for everyone regardless of their background. We must be honest that not everyone is not meant for college, but if they choose four paths — college, trade school, military or entrepreneurship — they have a great shot of a thriving future hear in America.

With these four paths in mind, we must come together as a nation, as states and in the community to be the best we can be. That is the spirit of America.

TC: Leaders in our country must lead by example. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, corporate CEO, police chief, U.S. senator or even the president of the United States, we must never forget that our children are watching us. To say that I have been disappointed by President Trump’s leadership on racial issues is an understatement. However, Dr. King reminds us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I will continue to lead by example, and, if re-elected to the U.S. Senate, I will continue to pursue legislative proposals that will help us accelerate a much-needed healing in this country. These proposals include ending mass incarceration and overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences, as well as protecting the Dreamers and refugees who are now proud to call our country home.

NF: I fail to see how the government can affect culture. It can provide equal protection under the law, but it cannot change the hearts and minds of human beings. Only people can do that. I would, in my official capacity, encourage all to work together to improve their understanding of each other, but it really isn’t something that government policy should be involved in.

DT: Education, we need people to learn and realize that we are all Americans and we need to get along. Since some of the problem stems from police interaction, additional training could go along way to help this.

Is there anything else you think is pertinent?

RA: I come from a military family where my father spent his career in the U.S. Navy. I served our country in the Naval Reserve as an intelligence specialist for eight years. My youngest son, Jared, continues the tradition, as he is in his second year at the U.S. Naval Academy.

I have a passion to serve, am ready to lead and am energized by the desire in the state for real leadership on the issues affecting the constituents of this state. I look forward to being your next U.S. senator so we can focus on how to make Delaware more prosperous, safer and strong for our children and grandchildren. With your help we can do this together.

TC: When I was elected to be state treasurer, Delaware had the worst credit rating in the country. Six years later, with our credit ratings restored to AA, I went on to serve five terms as a U.S. congressman before becoming governor of Delaware. As governor, I pursued a bipartisan agenda that led to eight balanced budgets, tax cuts in seven of eight years, record growth in employment and a reduction in state debt, all which led to Delaware earning AAA credit ratings for the first time in state history.

Since being elected to the U.S. Senate, my proudest achievements include helping to write key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and stopping the Trump administration from repealing the ACA’s critical protections for the 400,000 Delawareans with preexisting conditions.

NF: I have a degree in political science and government, with a concentration in legal studies, more specifically constitutional law and civil rights. I am a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honors Society. I have been employed in managerial and executive roles in multiple industries, and of various sizes from mom-and-pop retail to a multi-billion dollar global travel network.

I know the needs of our local small business owners, but the very large enterprise that is our federal government does not daunt me. I am an ordinary Delawarean, who lives in a row house in Wilmington (the most diverse neighborhood of the city), and I am fighting for my friends, neighbors and grandchildren. I have been actively involved in politics in the city of Wilmington for years and consider myself to be the unofficial watchdog of city government and would like to take that experience to DC.

DT: The two party system has failed us. We NEED a third party in federal office. It is the only way to end the corruption.


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