Poppiti pushes proposals for elder care, pardons

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weeklong series about the candidates running for lieutenant governor in the Sept. 13 primary. DOVER — The list of Delaware political candidates who have acted alongside A-list film stars is assuredly a very short one, and while movie experience is not particularly relevant for governing, it can’t hurt in campaigning.

Delaware Vote logoDOVER — Lieutenant governor candidate Ciro Poppiti might not be extensively emphasizing his film background, but he believes his experience does serve as an uncommon one that strengthens his ties to the arts.

Mr. Poppiti, the New Castle County register of wills, is one of six Democrats seeking the lieutenant governor’s office. He is the only candidate who has been elected countywide.

His platform is built on several pillars: revenue, seniors, the arts, the Board of Pardons.

One of his main talking points is bringing in $2.4 million over six years for New Castle by clearing a “backlog” of cases where residents owed money to the county.

The state, he said, could bring in extra revenue simply through departments working together to collect money owed to them.

Ciro Poppiti

Ciro Poppiti

“I want to be the guy who helps work cross-department and you know what, the governor can’t do that. Why? Because the governor is running the government as a whole,” he said. “As No. 2, you get to come down a step and work across department to say, ‘How can we make government better?’”

A member of the Delaware Army National Guard, he said a desire to help others and make an impact drives him.

“My philosophy and how I am continues like a thread throughout my life,” Mr. Poppiti said.

An elder-law attorney, Mr. Poppiti has crafted a “bill of rights” for senior citizens, based on guaranteeing them protections and opportunities.

Describing his commitment to elderly care in an interview, Mr. Poppiti highlighted Saint Francis LIFE, a Wilmington facility he helped launch that is designed to provide a variety of services for seniors at a lower cost.

Expanding it into more care centers would allow senior citizens and their family members to live their lives with greater ease and would save the state money, he said.

“We always think of cutting costs as a loss of service but it doesn’t have to be that way,” he noted.

Delaware’s population is older than the national average, according to the estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the state says more than 20 percent of Delawareans will be at least 65 years old within four years. With that specter looming, Mr. Poppiti predicted the issue of caring for an aging population will be the state’s biggest challenge in the near future.

He is also in favor of strong funding of the arts, continuing what he called a “golden age” begun by Gov. Jack Markell and his wife, Carla.

A former actor with four film credits, including a role alongside Charlie Sheen and Winona Ryder in the 1986 movie “Lucas,” Mr. Poppiti has hopes of bringing movie crews to Delaware for filming.

In the criminal justice arena, he has placed substantial focus on the Board of Pardons, which the lieutenant governor chairs, proposing to expedite the process and hold meetings all over the state rather than solely in Dover.

“You should see their eyes light up,” Mr. Poppiti said, describing past informational clinics he’s held for ex-offenders. “‘Yes, I’ve been in trouble, I’ve (lived) a clean life, now you’re going to help me? The government’s going to help me with free legal advice? … ‘Yes, we will help you.’ ‘Ok. Hey, I can take ownership again in my community.’”

A native Delawarean, he first ran for register of wills in 2010, he said, on the encouragement of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., then New Castle County executive.

His campaign for lieutenant governor has involved attending community events up and down the state, knocking on doors and releasing regular policy proposals.

Financially, he has $38,000 on hand after pulling in $74,000 in donations through the first eight-and-a-half months of 2016. Both totals are third among Democratic candidates for the office.

Asked why Delaware needs a lieutenant governor, Mr. Poppiti said the officeholder has the ability the advocate for a variety of causes and work with different departments.

While U.S. Rep. John Carney, a Democrat favored to win the governorship, has stayed away from the crowded lieutenant governor primary, Mr. Poppiti said he has worked with him for years and would welcome the chance to assist him.

In the event he, as lieutenant governor, disagrees with the governor, the governor would have priority, Mr. Poppiti noted.

“You’re Robin to the governor’s Batman,” he acknowledged. “At the end of the day, the governor, he or she is the boss.”

Ciro Poppiti bio

Age: 45
Seeking: Lieutenant governor’s office
Party: Democrat
Hometown: Wilmington
History: Elected New Castle County register of wills in 2010 and re-elected in 2014; elder-law attorney

Meet the candidates

Stories on each of the six Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor will be running this week in an attempt to detail their backgrounds, goals and more. These six will be on the ballot in the Sept. 13 primary election. If you’ve missed any stories, visit delawarestatenews.net to read them.
Monday: Brad Eaby
Tuesday: Greg Fuller
Wednesday: Bethany Hall-Long
Thursday: Kathy McGuiness
Friday: Ciro Poppiti
Saturday: Sherry Dorsey Walker

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