U.S. Congressional candidates respond

Newcomers make bid for seat Carney is vacating
October 26, 2016

Four candidates are running for Delaware’s only U.S. Representative seat – Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester, Libertarian Scotty Gesty, Green Party candidate Mark Perri, and Republican Hans Reigle. The seat is held by Democrat John Carney, who is running for governor. If Rochester were to win, she would become the first woman and first African-American to hold the seat. Gesty did not respond to the Gazette by deadline.

• Lisa Blunt Rochester •

Party: Democrat

Age: 54

Education: Bachelor of arts, international relations, Fairleigh Dickinson University; master of arts, urban affairs and public policy, University of Delaware

Occupation: candidate for U.S. House of Representatives

Residence: Wilmington

Family: daughter, Alyssa; son, Alex

Relevant experience: constituent relations caseworker for former U.S. Rep. Tom Carper; policy advisor, former Gov. Tom Carper; deputy secretary, Delaware Health & Social Services; secretary of labor, Delaware Department of Labor; state personnel director

• Mark Joseph Perri •

Party: Green Party

Age: 56

Education: Ph.D. chemical engineer, MBA from University of Delaware

Occupation: Clerk

Residence: Triangle Neighborhood, Wilmington

Family: Wife, son

Relevant experience: active in the local and national sustainability movement with

Wilmington In Transition; Green Party Delaware gubernatorial candidate in 2012; Creating a Community of Peace movement with Wilmington Peacekeepers, Delaware Pacem In Terris, and Delaware Interfaith Power & Light; creator, developer and maintainer of a local peace resources database called; math, science, English, GED tutor with Wilmington’s West End Neighborhood House; clerk, Delaware Local Food Exchange

• Hans Reigle •

Party: Republican

Age: 52

Education:  Bachelor of science degree, Excelsior College, 1989; MBA, Delaware State University, 2010.

Occupation: Running for congress; retired from Delaware State University in May 2016.

Residence: Wyoming

Family: Married for 20 years with three children.

Relevant experience: 20-year veteran of U.S. Air Force Reserves; councilman and mayor of Wyoming

• According to the Delaware Department of Agriculture, 41 percent of the state’s land mass is dedicated to farmland, resulting in about $8 billion of economic activity annually. Would you support/expand federal grants for farmland preservation?

Lisa Blunt Rochester – Delaware’s agriculture industry is critical to our success as a state, and I believe it is important to preserve it. Our farmers understand how important it is to protect our environment,and they deserve support to help them succeed and expand responsibly. I would support federal grants for farmland preservation and work to ensure that our farms continue to be a major driver of our economy.

Mark Perri – Support and expand. Most produce in the U.S. is shipped 1,500 miles before getting to supermarkets. We can only afford this wasteful food system because of artificially low energy prices and by externalizing the environmental costs. We subsidize big agriculture with government handouts. Cheap energy and subsidies facilitate agriculture that destroys and pollutes our soils and water and weakens our communities. They concentrate wealth and power into a few hands and threaten the security of our food systems. We’re being forced to reevaluate our food systems and emphasize food quality and energy efficiency: smaller-scale organic, local agriculture.

Hans Reigle –  As a resident of Kent County, I understand the huge impact farming has on our state and our country. I do support federal subsidies that go to our family farmers. However, I do not support increasing the federal debt or yearly deficit spending to support this program. We cannot increase our national debt which has doubled to almost $20 trillion in the last eight years. We should focus on reducing unnecessary regulations, taxes and expenses that burden farmers’ productivity and growth. The money for farmers would come from cuts in other programs and those regulatory savings.

• What can be done at a federal level to help improve Sussex County’s internet broadband access?

L.B.R. – We have to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband internet. Expanding opportunity for everyone is a key piece of my platform, and we have to work toward providing broadband access to everyone to help achieve that goal. In Congress, I’ll work to build partnerships within the state to coordinate efforts, policies and strategies to help increase access to broadband.

M.P. – We are in crisis and need to bring all of us to the table. We are locked out of the economy, jobs, education, political system and dialogue. We need an Emergency Green Energy Transition, ending unemployment, poverty, and climate change. An emergency jobs program to address economic and climate crises together, which would make wars for oil obsolete and save 200,000 lives a year in the U.S. by eliminating fossil fuels. Zeroing out fossil fuels and creating 20 million jobs by 2020 with the Green New Deal means universal Internet access.

H.R. – This is a difficult issue. Outside of the beach areas, our citizens live in areas where setting up broadband for new customers becomes costly.  Short of offering government money to individual residents or to the cable companies to lower those costs, the solution will be what the market can support. I would support providing broadband to areas with numerous homes and businesses to help these communities grow within the economy. However, in smaller areas where there are not enough individuals, the single cost per home is unaffordable. I will keep an open mind to any possible solutions.

• Delaware’s beaches bring in billions of tourism dollars. How will you ensure federal tax money will be available for beach replenishment and other clean water projects?

L.B.R. – In Congress, I’ll support the replenishment program, but I also believe we need to do more to fight climate change. Our beaches have been hammered in recent years by hurricanes, forcing major investment in restoring dunes and sand. Delaware’s beaches are integral to our tourism industry, and it’s important we not only replenish them, but that we work to protect them. I’ll work to secure funding for beach replenishment as well as work to fight climate change to prevent dangerous sea level rise and more intense storms.

M.P. – Beaches are the by-product of a living community, a community that, like all life, is directed toward its own perpetuation. When its life-activity is disrupted, its vitality diminishes. Beaches and the living nonhuman communities that produce them cannot be treated as passive physical elements. They can be managed, but they must be managed in a way that recognizes their self-interestedness in their own persistence. Wealth, broadly conceived as all matters valued by living beings, can encompass all production, all value. By working as the part of nature we are, relatively simple and low-cost measures would provide more benefit.

H.R. – Having clean beaches for our families and for tourist income is a crucial part of our economy. Delaware has long benefited from federal support, much like many other coastal states. I would support and actively fight to bring these dollars to Delaware’s beaches for beach replenishment and other projects.   

• According to the state’s Office of Management and Budget, by 2020, the cost of the state employee group health insurance plan is expected to top $1 billion annually. What can be done at the federal level to curb those costs?

L.B.R. – No law is perfect, but the Affordable Care Act has helped insure 20 million Americans. It has helped decrease healthcare costs for women and has prevented insurers from being allowed to turn down healthcare because of preexisting conditions. We know we have more work to do to ensure that healthcare is not only accessible and effective, but that it is affordable. I believe that we need to do more to increase choices for Delawareans including exploring a public-option to help decrease costs while continuing to build on the work already done to cover more Americans.

M.P. – Improved Medicare-for-All system. Covered from womb to grave, head to toe, physician is your choice and controlled by you. Twenty-five percent of our healthcare money now goes into overhead and bureaucracy. In Medicare, it's 2 percent. Stop paying the health profiteers.

H.R. – Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield asked for a rate increase of 32 percent for next year. Obamacare has serious flaws and must be replaced or repaired. It fails to address many problems that plague the American healthcare system and made many problems worse. The law has resulted in millions of Americans losing the private coverage they once had and millions paying higher premiums for fewer choices. We need to ensure that patient centered, market-based reforms are implemented. Once this occurs, the cost of programs like the state-employee healthcare plan will decrease over time.


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