Delaware Democratic Forum showcases candidates ahead of September primary elections

LAUREN BOYD
Staff Reporter

ETHAN GRANDIN
Associate Visuals and Layout Editor

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester made opening remarks at Delaware’s Democratic Candidate Forum in Hockessin March 3. The event hosted Democratic primary candidates running in local, state and federal elections this upcoming September and offered an opportunity for candidates to discuss their platforms.

In an opening speech, the congresswoman told those in attendance that she and her party were “Bringing it!” in primary elections.

The congresswoman is the front-runner in the race to fill Delaware’s Senate seat in November, as she currently runs unopposed.

At the event, each candidate spoke about their platforms and had the opportunity to debate with their primary challengers. With issues ranging from road safety to protecting reproductive rights to combating climate change, candidates voiced plans for their potential elected offices. 

In light of Lisa Blunt Rochester’s Senate candidacy, current State Sen. Sarah McBride and Director of Housing Eugene Young both launched bids for the congresswoman’s soon-to-be-empty House seat.

“In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no person should go without the health care that they need to live,” McBride, a strong advocate of healthcare for all and reproductive rights, said. 

The state representative went on to call the denial of healthcare “a moral failing.”

McBride cited her success as a state representative when campaigning for Delaware’s House seat. In her capacity as such, McBride created legislation to make Delaware “a safe haven state for the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care and IVF care for patients and providers,” and she hopes to continue similar work on Capitol Hill.

Ultimately, McBride stated she is a candidate who is strong in conviction, willing to collaborate with Republican counterparts and consistently able to deliver tangible solutions.

Ethan Grandin/THE REVIEW

Young has focused on other issues, predominantly housing, as his background makes him both an expert on the issue and highly concerned about related topics such as homelessness, property values and interest rates.  

Young asserted that “the biggest issue in our country is housing.”

Young intends to address this issue with the creation of affordable housing at a multitude of price points and said his experience as the Director of Housing gives him a “unique lens that makes [him] different as a candidate.”

He is also worried about citizens’ abilities to start families, buy homes and be free from student debt. He stated that these issues are important because they directly affect the generations of future leaders.

“[These are] the issues that are going to impact everyday college students, everyday Delawareans and everyday Americans,” Young said.

The only potential post-primary challenger for either McBride or Young is Republican Donyale Hall.

Hall, a Gulf War-era Air Force veteran and entrepreneur, is running to contest either of the Democratic nominees and has focused her campaign on lowering costs, combating violent crime and improving the education system in Delaware.

Candidates running for Delaware’s governorship have also focused on lowering costs, especially for college-aged individuals.

“I have the vision for Delaware,” Bethany Hall-Long, current lieutenant governor and a candidate for governor, said. 

Hall-Long elaborated on what Delaware brings to the table and zeroed in on what she believes Delaware needs to do for its citizens, especially when it comes to young adults. 

“We’re gonna continue and invest in the things that young adults need: affordable houses and affordable childcare,” Hall-Long said. 

Early education and its larger impact was one of the major talking points for the lieutenant governor.

During her time in her current position, she set up an Early Education Learning Advisory Committee, which she claims is important for children’s performance both in and out of the classroom. 

“It is not about bipartisanship, it is about doing the right thing for our community,” Hall-Long said when responding to concerns about her ability to reach across the aisle. 

She elaborated on her time in the position of lieutenant governor, claiming it is what sets her apart from other candidates running for the position.

“Delawareans deserve more, not more of the same,” Matt Meyer, current New Castle County executive and a candidate in the race for the governorship, said.

Meyer spoke about affordable housing, emphasizing the need for financial assistance for college students and working families alike, hoping to ensure they have assistance when it is needed. 

Meyer wants to “make sure there’s additional public assistance for those that can’t afford housing, and [make] the hard decisions about local zoning rules.”

“We’re actually the only candidate in this race with a track record of envisioning, developing and executing on bold, innovative ideas,” he said in response to claims that he is inexperienced.

Meyer finished by emphasizing his accomplishments in his current position as county executive, highlighting his work on The Hope Center, a former hotel that is used to help those experiencing homelessness. 

Ethan Grandin/THE REVIEW

Local elections were also at the forefront of the forum. Michael Smith and Frank Burns are both running to unseat long-time Republican incumbent and House Minority Leader Michael Ramone in the 21st District – which includes Pike Creek.

For Smith, a top priority both politically and personally is road safety. The candidate went on to detail how a serious car accident totaled his vehicle.

“Road safety is something that really gets underlooked, [with] the 21st district [having] two of the top fifteen most dangerous intersections in the state,” Smith said.

Frank Burns’ priorities are different.

As a doctor of microbiology, Burns hopes to use his experience as a scientist to ensure abortion access as a human right, prevent gun violence in schools and neighborhoods and work to give every Delawarean a living wage.

As a community member and long-time Delawarean, Burns stands on the idea that as a public servant he will give back to his constituents, claiming “We can do more.”

These races will be voted on in Delaware’s Sept. 10 primary, when finalists will be elected as candidates for the Nov. 5 general election.

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