This is the first part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, agriculture/environment is worth 6 points and transportation is worth 7.
This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.
These will be presented in the order of Republican, Libertarian, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and Democrat, who in all cases are incumbents.
The 2020 Delaware gubernatorial candidates have talked about a lot of stuff, but these are two categories I haven’t been able to find too much on.
Yet the balance between agriculture and environment is an important one for Delaware. Not only is Sussex County #1 in broiler production nationwide (within one mile or so of me there are, by Google Maps and my count, 58 chicken barns) but in the nearly a year I’ve lived out here I’ve seen countless melon buses* and not a few semi-trailers presumably full of watermelons from the packing house down the road, tractors up and down my road at all times of the day and night, and even a cropduster spraying the field across the road from me one Saturday morning. And that doesn’t count the ongoing corn and upcoming soybean harvest that will start in the next few weeks.
On the other hand, there are concerns about the by-products of chickens, a nasty odor I sometimes catch a whiff of coming out the door. And those environmental concerns don’t even cover the beach on the other end of the county. So I would love to know how my candidates will balance these interests.
Those farmers also need methods to get their products to market, and Delaware seems to be lacking in that department. Once you get north of Dover, there are interstate-level highways to take you north and south, but downstate drivers are snagged in a morass of traffic lights and beachbound traffic limping its way down congested Delaware Route 1, U.S. 113, and U.S. 13 toward Ocean City, Salisbury, and points south. (East and west could use some improvement, too, but that’s on Maryland.) These highways need to be addressed, too.
So we will begin with agriculture and the environment, where a couple candidates have made statements. I had to reach back to 2016 to find John Carney’s, though, since he has eschewed an issues page this go-round.
Julianne Murray (R)
If Murray has had something to say about agriculture or the environment, I haven’t found it yet. So no points.
John Machurek (L)
John has the standard libertarian view of allowing the private sector to determine what is best for the environment, which I agree with for the most part. Lacking more details, I will give him 3 points out of 6 for the philosophy.
Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)
Kathy’s platform promises to “Promote farmland preservation, sustainable agriculture, food processing, and related agribusiness vertical integration.” I don’t mind these items, but would certainly love to know the details of government involvement, especially on farmland preservation which I believe should be generational. 1.5 points out of 6.
John Carney (incumbent D)
You would think for a moment that John gets it when he notes farmers are the stewards of the land and was in favor of developing “practical…and effective” policies on agriculture.
But he gave up the game right away when he stated, “John believes one of the most serious threats facing Delaware is that of climate change and sea level rise.” It’s not that serious of a threat and we can’t change the climate anyway. Saying that gives John an automatic 0 points out of 6.
As for transportation, I have a stunning lack of attention to a vital topic, although Republican Julianne Murray recently called for an audit of DelDOT thanks to irregularities in the EZPass system. It’s sort of a peripheral issue, but I will give her 1 point out of 7.
Her IPoD opponent, Kathy DeMatteis, has also acknowledged the need for infrastructure improvement in her platform in a non-specific fashion. So she gets 1 point out of 7 as well.
So early standings are not what you might think: Machurek 3, DeMatteis 2.5, Murray 1, Carney 0.
Nor do I have much to work with on the next category, social issues, but that will be the next installment.
*For those readers outside Slower Lower Delaware, a melon bus is a well-used school bus that has had its back seats, windows, and much of the sides and/or roof removed. They put padding on the floors, remaining side walls, and window sills so the watermelons aren’t damaged in transit, and they fill the entire back of the bus up to the windows with melons – it’s quite a sight. These jalopies come up from Florida (at least that’s where they are tagged) with running school buses which have retained their seats to transport the workers who pick the melons from mid-July to about mid-September.