Six Democrats make run for Congress

Newark Post - - Election - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­

Vot­ers will have six con­gres­sional can­di­dates to choose from when cast­ing their bal­lots in the Sept. 13 pri­mary.

Sean Bar­ney, Scott Walker, Bryan Townsend, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Mike Miller, Elias Weir – all Democrats – are run­ning for Delaware’s one and only seat in the U. S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The win­ner of the pri­mary will face off against Repub­li­can Hans Rei­gle in the Nov. 8 gen­eral elec­tion.

Since 2011, the po­si­tion has been held by John Car­ney, who is now run­ning for gov­er­nor. Sean Bar­ney Bar­ney, an Iraq War vet­eran with the U. S. Ma­rine Corps, thinks his ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for Sen. Tom Carper on Capi­tol Hill and as pol­icy di­rec­tor to Gov. Jack Markell gives him an edge over his op­po­nents.

“I have di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence with the is­sues and the di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting the re­sults,” he said.

Bar­ney, 41, lives in Wilm­ing­ton with his wife, Nikki, and their daugh­ter, So­phie, and works as pres­i­dent of a Delaware ven­ture cap­i­tal firm called In­foVest. He said he un­der­stands the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy, small busi­nesses and the work­force as a way to grow Delaware’s econ­omy and cre­ate well­pay­ing jobs. So far, that hasn’t been done enough, he said.

“I think, like many peo­ple, I’m frus­trated by what I see in Wash­ing­ton,” he said.

For Bar­ney, So­cial Se­cu­rity is the most im­por­tant is­sue. He be­lieves in ex­pand­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits and sup­ports the So­cial Se­cu­rity Care­giver Credit Act, which pro­vides re­tire­ment ben­e­fits to peo­ple who take time off work to raise a child or care for a rel­a­tive.

He also wants to give se­niors a cost- of- liv­ing in­crease and pass leg­is­la­tion that ties the So­cial Se­cu­rity cost- of- liv­ing ad­just­ment to the con­sumer price in­dex for the elderly ( CPI- E). Bar­ney be­lieves cost of liv­ing should re­flect the ex­penses se­niors liv­ing on fixed in­comes face ev­ery­day, such as the rise in pre­scrip­tion drug prices. Lisa Blunt Rochester When her hus­band died in 2014, Blunt Rochester was dev­as­tated and search­ing for a pur­pose. She started notic­ing that peo­ple all over Delaware – not just in her home city of Wilm­ing­ton – were strug­gling to get by and knew what she had to do.

“In­stead of feel­ing bad about the things I saw, I de­cided to be a part of the so­lu­tion,” she said. “I de­cided to throw my hat in the ring.”

Blunt Rochester, a 54-year-old mother of two, is best known as a former state sec­re­tary of la­bor but be­fore that, she served as deputy sec­re­tary of the state Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Ser­vices. She be­came the state’s per­son­nel di­rec­tor in 2001 and later CEO of the Metropoli­tan Wilm­ing­ton Ur­ban League.

“Ser­vice is not new to me and is def­i­nitely im­por­tant to me,” Blunt Rochester said.

“I have a track record of bring­ing peo­ple to the ta­ble and find­ing com­mon so­lu­tions and I think that’s ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary in Wash­ing­ton right now,” she added.

She be­lieves many of Delaware’s is­sues can be solved by cre­at­ing jobs and strength­en­ing the econ­omy, which can be done by in­vest­ing in in­fra­struc­ture, pro­vid­ing tax cred­its to in­cen­tivize small busi­nesses own­ers and train­ing the state’s work­force through the ex­ist­ing ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. She also thinks the Pay­check Fair­ness Act is long over­due to close the gen­der pay gap and plans to sup­port leg­is­la­tion that makes col­lege more af­ford­able so that stu­dents aren’t grad­u­at­ing with so much debt. Mike Miller Miller is a 47-year-old tax ac­coun­tant from Lewes who is hop­ing his third time is the charm for a seat in the U.S. House. In 2000 and 2002, he lost to Mike Cas­tle, who was Delaware’s long­time con­gress­man prior to John Car­ney.

Miller, who owns and op­er­ates two busi­nesses and has three chil­dren with his wife, Denise, said he de­cided to run again be­cause he hasn’t seen much of an im­prove­ment.

“Many of those chal­lenges back then are the same chal­lenges we con­tinue to face to­day, and I think we are stuck in Wash­ing­ton and we just con­tinue to kick the can down the road and we need to make some changes,” he said.

He said he’s still fight­ing for some of the same is­sues, like rais­ing the min­i­mum wage to $11 per hour and pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate health­care for vet­er­ans. He thinks vet­er­ans should be able to see a pri­mary care physi­cian in­stead of trav­el­ing to the VA hospi­tal, where they some­times wait weeks to see a doc­tor.

Miller wants to di­rect fed­eral fund­ing to de­velop the Port of Wilm­ing­ton, which he thinks will in turn cre­ate jobs and boost the econ­omy. He also wants to pass leg­is­la­tion to in­crease So­cial Se­cu­rity sur­vivor ben­e­fits and take the cap off up­per in­come.

“I cer­tainly think we can do bet­ter than what we’ve been do­ing,” Miller said. “I’ll be the best con­gress­man this state has ever had if they just give me a chance.” Bryan Townsend As a state sen­a­tor, Townsend said he knows how the leg­isla­tive process works and how dif­fi­cult the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment can be. He thinks he has the right kind of ex­pe­ri­ence to be a con­gress­man be­cause he un­der­stands the big is­sues.

“This is stuff I’ve been do­ing for four years now in the state se­nate,” he said. “It’s one thing to cam­paign and say you’re go­ing to do things, and it’s an­other to have done it.”

Townsend, 35, was first elected to the state se­nate in 2012 for a term short­ened by re­dis­trict­ing and then was re-elected in 2014 af­ter beat­ing New Cas­tle County Coun­cil­man David L. Tack­ett in the pri­mary and run­ning un­op­posed in the gen­eral elec­tion. He cur­rently works as an at­tor­ney in Wilm­ing­ton and lives near Ne­wark with his wife, Lil­ianna.

Over the years, he said, he’s seen how grid­lock and bad pol­icy in Wash­ing­ton can hurt Delaware­ans.

“There’s a long list of things I’m ready to ad­vo­cate on,” he said, ad­ding that ed­u­ca­tion and a fed­eral so­lu­tion to gun safety are at the top of that list. He also wants to fo­cus on in­car­cer­a­tion is­sues, ad­dic­tion help and stu­dent loan bur­dens.

Townsend promised that if he makes it to Wash­ing­ton, he won’t for­get his home­town roots.

“Ev­ery­one has been re­ally sup­port­ive,” he said. “It’s kind of cool that a kid from Ne­wark might be go­ing to Congress.” Scott Walker Af­ter grad­u­at­ing col­lege, Walk- er started his own flower busi­ness, which turned into a hor­ti­cul­tural com­pany that in­stalled and main­tained plants for com­mer­cial clients. As a busi­ness owner for 30 years, he likes to think he knows a thing or two about how jobs are cre­ated and how the econ­omy grows.

“This coun­try was built on en­trepreneurs, but we’ve lost our mojo,” he said. “It’s not go­ing to be hard to get it back. It’s not go­ing to cost a penny to get it back. But some­one, a con­gress­man, has to get up and speak and has to de­liver the mes­sage.”

Walker, 65, is a father of four who lives with his wife, Joan, in Mil­ford and Wilm­ing­ton. He owns sev­eral prop­er­ties in Wilm­ing­ton and New Cas­tle County and said he de­cided to run for Congress be­cause of how he was treated by the state as a land­lord and the racial dis­crim­i­na­tion his ten­ants have ex­pe­ri­enced.

“To be hon­est, I was an­gry and I was fed up with be­ing treated badly just be­cause I was a businessman,” he said.

He has helped the poor and dis­abled in Wilm­ing­ton through two or­ga­ni­za­tions he founded – the Civil Rights Cen­ter and the Dis­abled Dis­ad­van­taged Delaware­ans Foun­da­tion – and vows to com­bat dis­crim­i­na­tion against women and racial mi­nori­ties as a con­gress­man.

Walker also wants to lower the tax rate for cor­po­ra­tions to try and get busi­nesses to stay in Delaware in­stead of go­ing overseas. Elias Weir Weir moved to Ne­wark last May from New York, where he lost an elec­tion for New York City Coun­cil and made two un­suc­cess­ful tries for state se­nate.

The Post was un­able to reach Weir for an in­ter­view.

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