In the 20th District: Hocker and Mitchell provide answers

Candidates survey

In the leadup to Nov. 8’s election, the Delaware State News will be running questionnaires from various candidates.

For more survey answers from candidates and election news, visit our Vote 2016 section.

20th Senate District (Ocean View)

Gerald Hocker

Gerald Hocker

Gerald W. Hocker, Republican

Office seeking: State Senate

Age: 68

Occupation: Business owner/legislator

Family: Wife Emily, five children, and eleven grandchildren

Elective experience: State representative for 38th District from 2002-2012, state senator for 20th District from 2012-present


Perry Mitchell

Perry Mitchell

Perry J. Mitchell, Democrat

Office seeking:  State Senate District 20

Age: 78

Occupation: Retired professor of political science

Family: Married to Jill Mitchell, two grandchildren

Elective experience: Ocean View Town Council, Ocean View Planning and Zoning

1. What would be your top priority in this office?

Hocker: My priority has not changed much since I was elected — to reduce the level of government spending and get businesses moving in Delaware. I was the key driver in reducing the impact of state regulations, by requiring that agencies review their regulatory impact on the business owner before they implement the regulations. I have yet to support any tax increases. As many have said, we do not have a revenue issue, we have a spending problem.

Mitchell: Delaware is sixth highest state in electricity costs. I will investigate high electricity rates and seek lower rates. An important priority is to help senior citizens receive affordable housing, transportation and recruit doctors to area. Also a priority is increasing jobs in Sussex County.

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

Hocker: Right-to-work. I really believe that since Delaware is not a right-to-work state, we have, and will continue to lose out on large companies who are seeking to relocate or expand in Delaware. We have so much to offer, but this is holding us back from re-gaining all the economic ground we have lost since 2008-09.

Mitchell: None at this time.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Hocker: No, and I voted against the measure this past session. I have owned and operated numerous businesses in Sussex County, and I know from personal experience what happens when government makes an arbitrary decision to raise salaries when the market place does not require it. Basically, you hurt the very folks you are trying to help. It also increases the pace of automation.

Mitchell: Yes. Raising the minimum wage will reduce poverty and help reduce inequality in Delaware. It will not force business to lay off workers.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Hocker: First and foremost — get out of the way. The state needs to “set the table” with good tax policies, a great educational system and keep ourselves competitive with what other states are doing. Raising taxes, putting in more regulations, increasing the minimum wage, taxing personal income at higher levels and not fixing the state’s educational system makes us un-competitive. These polices will cause businesses to look somewhere else.

Mitchell: I will attract manufacturing jobs into Sussex Count to improve our economy. Also maintaining roads and bridges will bring additional jobs to Sussex County.

5. Would you vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty?

Hocker: I support the use of the death penalty. I believe if it is done using clear and convincing evidence, and is done quickly, it is a necessary law enforcement tool.

Mitchell: I am generally opposed to capital punishment but would support and an exception for police officers who are killed in line of duty

6. Should the state make changes to its laws on marijuana?

Hocker: No, this is unnecessary and I will not support the legalization of this drug. I am convinced the states that have legalized marijuana have yet to see the impacts it will have on their communities, businesses, and schools.

Mitchell: I would support an exception for medical marijuana because the drug can help some people when other drugs have failed.

7. Should the state lower the tax rates on the casinos, do nothing, or take some other step to provide relief? 

Hocker: We need to cut their taxes back to where they were before 2008. It is not aid; it is getting the state out of their pockets so they can be as competitive as possible. Gaming and horse racing are huge employers in this state, and if we do not do something to help them remain strong, faced with new casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania, we will have a huge problem.

Mitchell: No. Casinos make about 90 percent of their profits from problem gamblers, who make up 10 percent of their customers. Delaware should not collaborate in this problem.

8. What changes would you make to the Department of Education?

Hocker: We need a different culture at DOE. We spend so much money on education but our test results do not reflect the money spent. I believe our principals need to become school leaders, and we should let them run their schools.

Mitchell: We need more collaboration among the different stakeholders in forming education policy. I would like to see universal preschool adopted and computer science courses to bring our students into the 21st century.

9. Does the state spend too much, too little or the right amount?

Hocker: I already answered that question — too much.

Mitchell: This is hard to determine because of the complexity of funding from different sources and the need of the state to audit educational expenditures. But additional money might be necessary to adopt universal preschool.

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

Hocker: Again, we are spending too much so we need to cut. We need to address the state’s employee benefits program, our employee medical health care system and our exploding Medicare and Medicaid populations. If we do not address these issues, there will be nothing left for bridges, roads or schools.

Mitchell: Delaware has to get its spending under control. It had the highest per capita spending compared to other states.

11. Do changes need to be made in the state’s employee health care structure?

Hocker: Yes. The state needs to come up with more plan options for the employees to choose from.

Mitchell: Delaware needs to manage its employed health care better by instituting cost-control incentives.

12. What should be done to impact the state’s heroin crisis?

Hocker: This is a very difficult issue, and for a number of families here in the Sussex County, it is filled with heartbreak. First, drug traffickers, drug gangs and pushers of any kind need to be severely punished for their crimes. Next, education and treatment programs need to be strengthened and available statewide, not just in our urban center. Finally, we need to bring jobs to Delaware. With good employment opportunities, it brings self-respect, dignity and a way up and hopefully a way out of the prison that is drug addiction.

Mitchell: Delaware should treat addiction as a disease rather a crime.

13. How can the state best continue to fund road and bridge projects?

Hocker: Last session, the Senate Republicans insisted upon moving millions out of DelDOT’s general operating account and back into the Transportation Trust Fund. This task was not done. Once every dollar that has been designated for roads and bridges is returned to the TTF, then we can talk about whether the state needs more money from our citizens.

Mitchell: I favor taxing the number of miles driven to raise revenue for funding roads and bridges.

14. Anything else?

Hocker: No.

Mitchell: Our seniors need better care and attention. Thus I will support, for seniors, finding available housing through means tested housing subsidies, providing affordable transportation using DART and negotiated reduced taxi fares, attracting more doctors to Sussex County to reduce the doctor shortage for seniors, finding affordable home health care through revised Medicaid rules and facilitating veterans assistance for improved pension, homebound and aid and attendance programs from the Veterans Administration.

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