After the Primary: Delaware Candidates for General Election on November 8th

Delaware Primary season is over!  Now that the playing field has been seriously trimmed, this is the final list of Delaware candidates for the General Election on November 8th.  Some candidates who I previously called winners after the deadline in July now face an opponent from party-nominated candidates who were put on the ballot by September 1st or members of the Green party who are in the game now.  I will be coming out with my own endorsements in the weeks ahead.


Deadline to Register to Vote for General Election: October 15th

Delaware Election 2016: November 8th


What’s At Stake:

President: The future of the country.

Delaware Senate: 11 out of 21 seats up for re-election, 11 seats needed for party control.  As of the 148th General Assembly, there were 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans in the Delaware Senate. With no one running against some candidates, 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans will retain seats. Magic number for party control in the Senate- Democrats: 3, Republicans: 4

*the only thing that could change this scenario is if Senator Bethany Hall-Long wins the Lieutenant Governor race and then a special election would take place after the General Election for her seat.  The same would apply if Senator Colin Bonini wins the Governor race.

Delaware House: All 41 seats up for reelection, 21 seats for party control.  As of the end of the 148th General Assembly, there were 26 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the House. With no one running against some candidates, 16 Democrats and 4 Republicans will retain seats.  Magic number for Democrats: 5, for Republicans: 17.  These numbers don’t assume certain parties will win if a candidate is running against one of the Libertarians, Greens, or Independents.   Assuming the incumbents win in those elections, that would change the magic numbers for Democrats to 4 and the Republicans to 15.

As of tonight, we have a brand new Delaware Senator from the 9th Senate District: Jack Walsh.  Congratulations Senator Walsh!  As well, Wilmington will have a new Mayor.  Congratulations to Mayor Michael Purzycki.



Hillary Clinton (D)

Jill Stein (G)

Gary Johnson (L)

Donald Trump (R)



John Carney (D)

Andrew Groff (G)

Sean Goward (L)

Colin Bonini (R)


Congress: US Representative

Lisa Blunt Rochester (D)

Mark Perri (G)

Scott Gesty (L)

Hans Reigle (R)


Lieutenant Governor: 

Bethany Hall-Long (D)

La Mar Gunn (R)


Insurance Commissioner:

Trinidad Navarro (D)

Jeffrey Cragg (R)


State Senate:

District 1: 

Harris McDowell III (D) (Incumbent)

James Spadola (R)


District 5:

Denise Bowers (D)

Catherine Cloutier (R) (Incumbent)


District 7:

Patricia Blevins (D) (Incumbent)

Anthony Delcollo (R)


District 8:

David Sokola (D) (Incumbent)

David Chandler (G)

Meredith Chapman (R)


District 9: Winner

John Walsh (D)


District 12: Winner 

Nicole Poore (D) (Incumbent)


District 13: Winner

David McBride (D) (Incumbent)


District 14:

Bruce Ennis (D) (Incumbent)

Carl Pace (R)


District 15: Winner

Dave Lawson (R) (Incumbent)


District 19: Winner

Brian Pettyjohn (R) (Incumbent)


District 20:

Perry Mitchell (D)

Gerald Hocker (R) (Incumbent)


State Representative:

District 1: Winner

Charles Potter (D) (Incumbent)


District 2: Winner

Stephanie Bolden (D) (Incumbent)


District 3: Winner

Helene Keeley (D) (Incumbent)


District 4: Winner

Gerald Brady (D) (Incumbent)


District 5: Winner

Melanie George Smith (D) (Incumbent)


District 6: Winner

Deb Heffernan (D) (Incumbent)


District 7:

Bryon Short (D) (Incumbent)

Robert Wilson (L)  


District 8: Winner

Quinton Johnson (D) (Incumbent)


District 9:

Monique Johns (D)

Kevin Hensley (R) (Incumbent)


District 10:

Sean Matthews (D) (Incumbent)

Judith Travis (R)


District 11:

David Neilson (D)

Jeffrey Spiegelman (R) (Incumbent)


District 12: Winner

Deb Hudson (R) (Incumbent)


District 13: Winner

John Mitchell (D) (Incumbent)


District 14:

Peter Schwartzkopf (D) (Incumbent)

James DeMartino (R)


District 15: Winner

Valerie Longhurst (D) (Incumbent)


District 16: Winner

James Johnson (D) (Incumbent)


District 17: Winner

Michael Mulrooney (D) (Incumbent)


District 18: Winner

David Bentz (D) (Incumbent)


District 19:

Kim Williams (D) (Incumbent)

James Startzman (R)


District 20:

Barbara Vaughn (D)

Don Ayotte (I)

Stephen Smyk (R) Incumbent


District 21:

David McCorquodale (G)

Mike Ramone (R) (Incumbent)


District 22:

Lanette Edwards (D)

Bernard August (G)

Joseph Miro (R) (Incumbent)


District 23: Winner

Paul Baumbach (D) (Incumbent)


District 24:

Edward Osienski (D) (Incumbent)

Timothy Conrad (R)


District 25:

John Kowalko (D) (Incumbent)

Mike Nagorski (R)


District 26: Winner

John Viola (D) (Incumbent)


District 27: Winner

Earl Jaques (D) (Incumbent)


District 28: Winner

William Carson (D) (Incumbent)


District 29:

Trey Paradee (D) (Incumbent)

Ruth James (G)

Janice Gallagher (R)


District 30:

Charles Groce (D)

William Outten (R) (Incumbent)


District 31: 

Sean Lynn (D) (Incumbent)

Jean Dowding (R)


District 32:

Andria Bennett (D) (Incumbent)

Patricia Foltz (R)


District 33: 

Karen Williams (D)

Charles Postles (R)


District 34:

David Henderson (D)

Lyndon Yearick (R) (Incumbent)


District 35:

Gary Wolfe (D)

David Wilson (R) (Incumbent)


District 36: Winner

Harvey Kenton (R) (Incumbent)


District 37: 

Paulette Rappa (D)

Ruth Briggs-King (R) (Incumbent)


District 38: Winner 

Ronald Gray (R) (Incumbent)


District 39:

James Brittingham (L)

Daniel Short (R) (Incumbent)


District 40: Winner

Timothy Dukes (R) (Incumbent)


District 41:

Bradley Connor (D)

Richard Collins (R) (Incumbent)


New Castle County Executive

Matt Meyer (D)

Matt Blake (R)


Mayor of Wilmington: Winner

Michael Purzycki (D)


The following Delaware Senate seats are not up for re-election this year:

District 2: Margaret-Rose Henry (D)

District 3: Robert Marshall (D)

District 4: Greg Lavelle (R)

District 6: Ernie Lopez (R)

District 10: Bethany Hall-Long (D)

District 11: Bryan Townsend (D)

District 16: Colin Bonini (R)

District 17: Brian Bushweller (D)

District 18: F. Gary Simpson (R)

District 21: Bryant Richardson (R)




An Open Letter To Governor Jack Markell

I have tried to stay on the sidelines in the Syrian refugee crisis.  It is a deep concern of mine in many aspects.  My reasons for not publicly commenting on this are very simple.  I don’t want my readers to get sidetracked from education issues I write about.  The extremes on this issue among Delaware citizens is very apparent.  I have seen people de-friend others on Facebook because they don’t agree with their point of view.  There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on these issues.  I see very Liberal citizens completely blasting Democrat politicians because they don’t agree with Governor Markell or President Obama.  I see those on the far right continue to trash those who seek equity in our society.

The plain and simple fact is this: there is a very huge population of people in this world who have no choice but to leave their country for fear of their very lives.  This is the reality.  Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of that and come to other countries to perpetuate terror.  We saw it in Boston and Paris in recent years.  When do the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many?  When does the safety and concern for a country’s current citizens become more paramount than those who are not even having their basic needs met?  This is the crux of these issues.  Both sides have valid points that warrant further discussion.  What drives me crazy is the polarizing effect this has on social media.  I see this with gay marriage and abortion as well.  I cringe when I see very blatant and racist comments when the News Journal posts anything directly related to race on Facebook.

In matters of education, I fully understand I am extremely polarizing on certain issues.  I have never de-friended someone on Facebook though if they don’t agree with my opinion.  I will argue it until the cows come home, but I won’t shut them out.  As a society, we have become very quick to draw that line in the sand.

With that being said, I am taking a stand on the refugee crisis.  I do not think Americans should be put in harms way for the sake of individuals from another country.  While I realize there is more chance of a plane crash happening than a terrorist attack on US soil, the implications and consequences of another event would be long-term and damaging.  I don’t believe the US Government can say with 100% certainty that the vetting process is reliable.  While there is a chance, I can’t support accepting refugees from Syria.  This will tick off many who believe I am a Progressive Liberal.  If anything I am a Progressive Conservative Independent Republican Democrat.  It really depends on the issues.  In a nutshell, I am in the middle.  On this issue, I don’t think the risk of American lives being lost and disrupted is worth it.  9/11 haunted me for many years.  To this day, I always cry on the anniversary.  I didn’t lose anyone that day, but it felt like America was ripped apart and we lost something that day.  It was our sense of safety and security.

Today I received an email as I do every day from various groups and organizations on both sides of the fence on numerous issues.  Upon reading the below letter, I felt it best exemplified my thoughts and concerns with the refugee crisis.  I am posting it here because it is an important issue and a well written letter that best shows where I stand on this issue.  This does not mean I agree with every single aspect of the groups who signed onto this letter.  But on this issue, I stand with their opinions.  I do not think it is a racism or discrimination issue but rather a safety issue.  There is a very clear distinction between the two.

An Open Letter to Governor Jack Markell,
In a unified and sincere concern for the safety and economic health of Delaware’s families, we urge you to reconsider your position to relocate “Syrian refugees” into Delaware communities. We ask that you join the 30 other state governors in placing the safety and reasonable concern of your constituents above any other consideration or agenda.  
We all share your compassion for those who are suffering and want those who truly need refuge to get it. Like you, we recognize that true Syrian refugees need a safe harbor. That safe harbor is best found in Middle Eastern countries near their homeland beyond the reach of the present violence. The first and most immediate safe place in the region meets their need for safety. Their need is not tax payer supplied housing and EBT cards in Dover, Newark or Seaford, in a culture completely foreign to their Islamic worldview, and 6000 miles from their known way of life. 
We know from the recent European experience that “Syrian refugees” comprise people from a dozen or so countries from Morocco to Afghanistan. Claims in Washington of a robust vetting procedure prior to entry to US are not credible. The FBI has reportedly said it is impossible to vet that many people before they come into our country.  Representative Carney and Senator Coons have both expressed their concerns in light of this information.
We are equally concerned that your support for President Obama’s planned action reflects a disconnect from those you serve in Delaware. Delaware families are being profoundly impacted by limited resources including a lack of care for our veterans, also a concern of yours. Heroin use is at an epidemic level in our state and destroying families and communities daily. Wilmington continues to suffer from uncontrolled crime and there is a growing racial discontent.  We still face inequalities and deficiencies in our state’s education system that may likely place added burdens on the state’s budget. The people of Delaware just cannot afford the cost, financial and otherwise, of your plan to add to those needing assistance in our state. 
You will recall the Tsarnaev family; taken in by the state of Massachusetts under condition of asylum.  The cost to the taxpayer of their direct and indirect benefits exceeded one million dollars. No one in that family ever became self-sufficient or safely acclimated in the U.S.
As you know the two sons of that family killed 3 innocent people with a homemade bomb at the Boston Marathon. Over 200 other innocent people were seriously wounded in the blast.  After years in this country they acted with deadly violence as they believed their faith dictates. 
Finally, the Tsarnaev family was fully and completely vetted by our Federal immigration authorities as applicants of asylum. 
Ultimately, this “compassionate gesture” is estimated to cost the state over 100 million dollars. This cost extended beyond the social benefits taken by the family. It ultimately included, police operations and manhunt, emergency care for the survivors, hospitalization of the wounded, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and prostheses needs, business disruption, criminal investigation, state prosecution and public defender costs, and forward projected prison costs; all paid by Massachusetts tax payers.
We are faced with new and uncertain dangers that can only increase as we neglect to control those who gain access to our country.  We ask that you block state funding of any sort that would be needed and allocated to resettle this population in Delaware.  Importing persons from a vastly different culture and trying to integrate them is exorbitantly expensive and the unpredictable results can be devastating.
Our groups collectively represent many thousands of Delawareans who are passionate, engaged, and aware of the realities of recent events in this world conducted by a few Islamic radicals.  As Governor, your heaviest burden and first concern must be for the safety and common well-being of the people in Delaware.  We ask that you recognize the proven risk associated with similar relocation programs. We further request that you use your authority, in the best interest and public safety of Delaware families and communities, to obstruct President Obama’s ill-considered relocation plan. 
912 Delaware Patriots
Faith and Freedom Coalition Delaware
Central Delaware NAACP
Rev. Dr. Shawn Greener
Frederick Douglass Foundation of Delaware – Sussex County
Institute on the Constitution

DE Election 2014: House Rep Candidates Views on Common Core, Smarter Balanced and Special Education #netde #eduDE @TheStateNews @DelawareOnline @KilroysDelaware

Election season in Delaware is underway. Everywhere I go, I see signs littering the landscape! I reached out to all the candidates for the House of Representatives in Delaware. I was really hoping to get more, but you work with what you can. I completely understand how busy many of these people are, as being a candidate is most likely not their only job. My question was simple: What are your veiws on Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessment and Special Education in Delaware. Nothing too fancy. Some emailed back asking how long it had to be, some said they never got a survey, and some responded right away. I sent the original emails out over a month ago, and a reminder email a few days ago.

If any candidate wants to add anything or send me their views, I will certainly update this as primaries are just the next part. We still have a ways to go!

Pete Kramer (29th District, Republican): I don’t support Common Core for a long list of reasons. Chief among those reasons is that I do not think standardized tests are a good was to evaluate teachers or students. Teachers too often have to teach to the test, and many subjects that I think are important are marginalized. Special needs kids also often struggle with standardized tests and get demoralized. I’m not opposed to a tough curriculum for most children, but centralized control of education and standardized tests is just not something I agree with.

We need a thorough review of Special Education in Delaware. The Federal government rated Delaware as “Needs Intervention.” A review board made up of legislators, teachers, and parents is the first step to solving the problem. Per capita Delaware is one of the highest spenders on education in the nation. Our results just aren’t there. We need to work to change that.

Paul Baumbach (23rd District, Democrat): I like the goal of Common Core, but I am disappointed with the process behind its creation, and with the implications of yet another curricula change (these changes require years of retooling lesson plans). While it is good that Smarter Balanced tests are designed to measure mastery of Common Core elements, I am disappointed that, since we are tying teacher evaluations and school evaluations to its results, that it fails to measure student growth during the school year. It’s once-a-year design makes it 100% inappropriate to tie to teacher and school assessments. I am not well-versed in the needs of students with special needs, and I therefore reach out to colleagues and others who understand issues better than I. I do believe that our school/student funding system is unworkable, and a funding mechanism which considers all students’ needs, and allocates financial resources more appropriately is sorely needed in Delaware, and that there are systems in place in the US which are superior to ours, and which we should work ASAP to adopt.

John Mackenzie (22nd District, Democrat): When DE won $120 million of Federal money in the first round of Race to the Top, over half of that money stayed in Dover: it was wasted on more admin salaries, consultants, another statewide student testing program (first DSTP, then DCAS, and now “Smarter Balanced”), a teacher appraisal system (DPAS) that still doesn’t work, etc. Our public schools are burdened with a lot of micromanagement from Dover. DOE keeps chasing one costly education fad after another. Common core is just the latest fad, taking a reasonable-sounding premise to create yet another testing mandate. This too shall pass.

David Alan McCorquodale (21st District, Green Party): My wife recently retired as a kindergarten teacher with special ed. certification in part because of frustration with all the layers of requirements being put in place. The day-to-day dealing with children became less and less about having them excited about learning and more focused on making sure they would meet certain standards when they were tested. I believe in local control of school districts and, in fact, I believe those who teach should have more control over what is done in their classrooms than the layers of high paid specialists and administrative people. I agree with your position that Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments violate local control. My position in general on Charter Schools is that they take much needed funds from public school while they do not have to perform all of the same services. Charter schools are leading to the resegregation of our schools on the basis of economic status, rather than race.

Michael Ramone (21st District, Republican): As you can see by my record since elected I am a advocate for special needs children and have been my entire life. Meadowood school is in my district and I do everything possible to support their needs and the special needs of all the schools in the 21st. I have some issue with Common Core but am hopeful this session we will be able to focus on the students above all else. Especially those in the special needs community. If you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to send them to me and I will answer them as quickly as possible. Thanks Michael

Robert Keesler (4th District, Republican): As you know education is a complex topic that I have been passionate about and working on since 2011. Therefore I find it difficult to concisely give my opinion since there are so many moving parts to our system.

Common Core

I am not a supporter of common core. It has its issues, however the main reason I do not support it is because it neglects the individual needs of the child. Supporters argue we need a curriculum that is the same no matter where the child goes to school. I disagree and would rather see a more decentralized school system that allows more choice for parents and students so we can account for every child’s unique situation and needs. What’s worse is those with the financial means are able to pull their children out of the system while others are not able to. Unlike the typical argument, I don’t think we should force those in private and charter schools back into the current system. Instead, we should offer choices to every student and do away with the concept of schools being funded by geographic region. What is public about education is the funding. The money should follow the student.

Smarter Balanced Assessments

Again, every child has unique abilities and interests. No standard test can account for that and will inherently neglect a minority of students.

Special Education

If we make the education system in Delaware less centralized by allowing the dollars to follow the student, then most schools will have an incentive to accommodate special needs children. Like any other time competition is introduced, we will see better results for special education students.

My perspective is that so many legislators bring their personal bias on education without studying how things got to this point. Like raising a child, one needs to follow the system from its inception up to today so you can intimately know the issue. Listening to some of the legislators in office it is clear they are focused on what they know instead of looking at the big picture. I am confident our education system will become more personalized whether it is through legislative measures or a result of technology. It is a matter of time, but I would rather see it happen now instead of later.

Marie Mayor (20th District, Democrat): I believe it is important to include students with disabilities in statewide assessment programs. The progress students with disabilities make in meeting the goals of their education program should be used to determine in part how well the school or school system is serving children with disabilities. The challenge is to design the assessment such that the assessment is a meaningful measure of the individual student’s achievement. It is this challenge that causes the most discussion and disagreement among education stakeholders (administrators, teachers, parents, school board members, etc). If elected, I would like be a part of a legislative effort to ensure the State (a) addresses this challenge head-on and (b) works in a collaborative manner with the US Department of Education to demonstrate the State’s commitment to assessing the progress and achievement of students with disabilities.

Donald Ayotte (20th District, Independent): I believe that common core will dumb down America’s educational system because the program fails to adequately allow development of human potential. Furthermore it assaults individuality in a sea of conformity. We need a thorough rebirth of our educational system, especially in Delaware, toward a new age of creativity and reason, unfortunately this is not possible with the constraints of the current special interest two-party political system. People need a greater voice in shaping educational policy.

James Brittingham (39th District, Libertarian): I’m against Common Core and High Stakes Testing. Parents, Teachers, and Local School Boards need to be controlling schools, not the Department of Education.