Schwartzkopf, DeMartino provide answers to the survey questions

The 14th Representative District serves the Rehoboth Beach area.
Peter Schwartzkopf, Democrat
Age: 61
Occupation: Retired Delaware State Police captain
Family: Wife Carol, four children, six grandchildren
Elective experience: State representative since 2002, speaker of the House since 2012
James DeMartino, Republican
Age: 59
Occupation: Lawyer
Family: Two adult sons
Elective experience: None

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

Schwartzkopf: I often say that the General Assembly is constitutionally bound to do one thing each year: Produce and pass a balanced budget annually. That is our one mandate, and it is going to be particularly challenging this upcoming year. We will all need to come to the table and put in an honest effort to determine what services our residents want and need, and how we will pay for them. That will be our top priority.

DeMartino: My top priority is to represent the residents of RD 14 and their concerns about over development, insufficient infrastructure, lack of year-round quality jobs, crime and taxes.

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

Schwartzkopf: The area I really would like to make some changes is in our criminal justice system, to really reform how we charge and sentence people for various crimes. We need to get away from imprisoning people as a default and evaluate what is best for the person and the violation, and to make sure that the person doesn’t commit another crime. In some cases, that means treatment or rehabilitation rather that prison time. I believe my experience as a retired trooper and legislator will help strike a balanced approach to this issue.

DeMartino: Repeal the decriminalization of marijuana. See additional remarks below.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Pete Schwartzkopf

Pete Schwartzkopf

Schwartzkopf: No working family should have to choose between buying groceries and paying the electric bill. I voted to increase the minimum wage in 2014, and I would support raising the wage. However, I should note that the 14th district has a huge number of small businesses that rely on minimum-wage workers. Large, unplanned wage increases can hurt them and/or force them to increase costs dramatically. Any efforts to raise the wage should be done in a careful manner that accomplishes both goals of providing more income to working Delawareans and to give businesses the ability to plan and account for these increases.

DeMartino: No, I do not support raising the minimum wage because it will impact creating entry level jobs, hurt small business and increases prices of goods and services which senior citizens on fixed income cannot afford.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Schwartzkopf: Whoever said, “government doesn’t create jobs” must have never realized that infrastructure improvements create thousands of good-paying jobs while also making our roads safer and making our state and communities more attractive to businesses. I’m proud to have sponsored legislation that will raise more than $300 million to fund dozens of road projects. We need to take strides like this to make Delaware an inviting and accommodating place, not just for existing businesses to locate, but for new startups to come to life, grow and thrive.

James DeMartino

James DeMartino

DeMartino: We can create new quality jobs with a creative comprehensive plan for the future. We need to reduce regulations for businesses, especially locally owned small business. Provide tax incentives for the first three to five years depending on the type of business. Develop new industries for our economy based on agriculture and tourism which are our strengths. One example for tourism is to create additional destination attractions from an exhibit hall in RD 14 to a sports complex for bicycle events and competitions in Sussex County. We need to expand vocational training and manufacturing facilities throughout the state.

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

Schwartzkopf: People’s positions on this issue are rooted in deeply held personal beliefs. It is not a partisan issue in any way. My personal experiences as a longtime state trooper lead me to support having the death penalty as an option for the truly worst offenders in society. That said, I have repeatedly met with and talked with those who have fought to repeal the death penalty. I respect their views, and I will continue to have conversations with them on this issue.

DeMartino: No. First, I am pro-life and second, as an attorney I have witnessed too many injustices with our criminal system.

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

Schwartzkopf: I have voted to establish medical marijuana in Delaware, as well as to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Beyond that, I have not taken a strong stance on this issue. I do believe we need to watch closely how things are unfolding in states where marijuana already has been made legal to see what the ramifications are before moving forward with any proposals.

DeMartino: Yes, repeal the decriminalization of marijuana. Possession and use of marijuana is still a violation of federal law and we are doing a disservice to our citizens by allowing its use within our state, especially for citizens who may want to enter the military or apply for federal jobs. Taxing marijuana to increase state revenue is not a justification for the legal use of marijuana. Medical marijuana as a prescription and controlled substance is beneficial in appropriate cases as determined by the medical profession and should be allowed.

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

Schwartzkopf: Within the last five years, we have passed measures that have helped reshape the original agreement between the casinos and the state by restructuring how major costs were paid which increased revenues to the casinos. At the current time, I do not currently support providing additional aid to the state’s casinos.

DeMartino: No, the casinos should be operated as any other for-profit business and the industry has expanded beyond its market potential.

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

Schwartzkopf: My wife is a retired Cape Henlopen School District employee. My daughter teaches in the district. The most important thing DOE can do is start with the base that teachers should have all the resources and support possible to educate their students. We should not place unnecessary burdens on teachers that hamper their ability to engage and connect with students. That should be a driving force in how DOE operates.

DeMartino: Abandon the principles of Common Core and return to a classic education. Reduce the bureaucracy of the Department of Education and allow more control at the local district and school level. Money should be spent on children’s education and not administrative salaries.

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

Schwartzkopf: The answer to this question comes down to what services people or politicians want state government to provide. If you want roads paved, children educated, seniors cared for, parks maintained and our communities protected, then all of that costs money. Personnel costs (teachers, healthcare workers, police, etc.) are more than half of the budget. Another 20 percent goes toward Medicaid and other programs for seniors, children and people with disabilities.

DeMartino: If we are constantly running budgetary deficits then the state is spending too much money. We need to be efficient in our spending and improve cost cutting measures throughout government agencies.

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

Schwartzkopf: We have to get past partisan knee-jerk reactions to this and start addressing the issue. Studies show our revenue sources are not stable and predictable enough. There are only 3 ways to address our financial situation — cut spending, raise revenue or a combination of the two- which is what we did in 2009. However, we need to get serious about a path forward. If spending cuts are to be considered, then come to the table with specific items to be cut and we can have that discussion.

DeMartino: We need to increase revenue and cut spending. We can increase revenue by expanding current businesses and develop new business that will create jobs and employ local residents. The immediate answer is not to increase revenue with a greater tax burden on business and residents.

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

Schwartzkopf: In 2011, we passed legislation reforming our state pension system and healthcare plans, saving taxpayers nearly $500 million over 15 years. This was the result of months of negotiations with legislators, the governor’s office and state workers. We have spent the past decade asking state workers to do more with less; we owe it to them that any discussions to make future changes need to follow a similar process.

DeMartino: The health care system is a burden on everyone and needs to be revised. The Affordable Care Act is destroying our economy. The state health care burden is becoming unsupportable and a new structure should be considered at least for new state employees.

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

Schwartzkopf: It’s really unfortunate that many have only now recognized the seriousness of the heroin epidemic that has been gripping communities for years now. But we must now be committed to addressing it in all corners of our state. That requires us to treat addiction as an illness, not a crime. We must fight drug addiction with the goal of treating people, not locking them up for as long as possible. This will require smart investments in treatment and healthcare.

DeMartino: Enforce the law for drug offenses. We need to improve rehabilitation services but we must stop the flow of heroin and the increase in drug use which results in addiction.

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

Schwartzkopf: Democrats in the General Assembly took a major step forward last year by passing legislation raising more than $300 million in revenue for dozens of road projects throughout the state. We must continue to invest in our infrastructure to eliminate the backlog of transportation projects we have in Delaware. However we do it, it must be done in a balanced, smart manner that doesn’t burden people.

DeMartino: Effectively manage the Transportation Trust Fund. Again, we cannot increase the gas tax and add a mileage usage tax. Although a pilot program, it should never be implemented because it will negatively impact business, tourism and personal travel.

14. Anything else?

Schwartzkopf: No.

DeMartino: I do not support sanctuary status either as a state or for any particular city. Sanctuary status is in direct conflict with federal law and only increases the tax burden on citizens and the potential for violent crimes. We must not eliminate the senior tax credit. Seniors on fixed incomes rely on every dollar and with the continued rise in health care costs we cannot put additional financial burdens on them.

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