Who am I?
For the past nine years I have been serving my home state of Delaware as State Treasurer; Ive been elected three times since 1998. As State Treasurer, I have modernized the office and made state government more efficient. But more than that, I have committed myself to making the office more relevant to the lives of Delawareans. I have spent time in communities around the state, listening to Delawareans talk about their financial problems, and I have fought to implement changes that have a real impact on their lives. Over the past few years, I have worked to bring banking into our schools, help people claim the tax credits they deserve, and start new programs to improve healthcare for state workers. Additionally, I developed the Delaware Money School, which offers hundreds of free classes each year to teach people basic financial literacy skills.
I grew up in the quiet university town of Newark, Delaware, where my father was a professor of accounting and my mother was a social worker. Delaware is a state that has managed to preserve its small-town, farm community values while becoming a pluralistic society and a sophisticated, global financial capital. Because of its small size, it maintains a rare degree of bipartisan pragmatism that generally reflects a socially progressive, fiscally prudent tradition. Like most Delawareans, I am proud to be a part of that tradition.
Growing up I experienced several life-shaping events. I discovered the real meaning of community when our neighbors rallied to support my family after a swastika was burned in our backyard. I was profoundly influenced by my parents dignity and spirit of inclusiveness as they dealt with this terrible incident.
I was also affected by a trip I took to India with my parents just before graduating from Newark High School. I witnessed images of desperate poverty that strongly shaped my future career decisions.
After earning degrees in economics and development studies from Brown University, I took a job with the First National Bank of Chicago and went to school at night, earning an MBA from the University of Chicago. In 1989 I was fortunate to get in on the ground floor of an upstart telecommunications company: Nextel. As the thirteenth employee, I served as Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and helped launched the company to global prominence. I even coined the name Nextel. I also worked in senior management at Comcast, as a consultant for the management firm McKinsey & Company, and as a banker at First Chicago Corporation.
I now live in Wilmington, Delaware, with my wife, Carla, whom I met in kindergarten, and our children, Molly, 14, and Michael, 12. Carla graduated from the University of Delaware and became a corporate trainer in career development and workplace substance abuse before becoming a full-time mother.
Why am I running?
Delaware is sitting atop a very precarious perch. The world is changing around us and the impact of these changes is unclear. If we dont recognize them and react quickly, they will work to our detriment. But if were smart and proactive, we can make these changes work to our advantage. In fact, thanks to our small size and potential for nimble action, we can become a national leader. As Treasurer I know firsthand that we are facing a fiscal crisis in the next generation. Delaware is getting older faster than other states, and the number of employees paying into the tax base isnt going to keep pace if we dont change the way we are doing things. The current administration has not done enough to be positioning itself to avoid the resulting squeeze that could bankrupt us. As the Bush administration steamrolls forward, I cant help but think of the path of destruction left in its trail of bad leadership. There needs to be a change nationally and locally.
While we are facing serious long-term problems, the problems are also immediate. Delaware is among the very worst states in new business creation, and only about half of our minority students graduate from high school on time. Over 100,000 Delawareans have no health insurance"20,000 of whom are kids. Unfortunately, the percentage of uninsured is increasing faster in Delaware than it is in most other states. I am running for governor because I know I can help us do better. Its true that there might be an easier time than now to get elected governor, but now is the time that Delaware needs a governor who has the vision and political will to make the changes we so desperately need. In just the first few months of my candidacy I have presented detailed, substantive plans laying out how Delaware can achieve what would be some of the central goals of my administration:
Help Delaware become an entrepreneurial capital, and create 25,000 new jobs in my first term.
Make universal health coverage a reality in Delaware.
Become a national leader in promoting clean renewable energy, and ensure that Delaware is second to none in implementing energy conservation initiatives.
In the coming months I will continue to present a vision for the future and an agenda for my administration. I want to close the achievement gap in our schools, bring some common sense to our land-use planning and promote a plan to maintain Delawares historic quality of life. I want to make sure that our streets are safe, and that we live in a state where young people have the opportunity to learn about and experience the arts.
There are problems in our society that cannot be left to the private sector alone to solve. An active, efficient government has a significant role to play in advocating for all Americans. However, the person who says that government and elected officials have all of the answers is not being straight with you. We must work together to achieve our goals. I have that ability to bring folks together, build communities, and make Delaware first again.
Delaware is not doing enough to make sure that all of our resources, especially the talent of our people, are being utilized. We should be a national leader, not satisfied with the status quo. The theme of my campaign is that I am willing to make the bold changes that it takes to make us the first state again.
The nation's first off-shore wind farm: Delaware has a chance to be a national leader by being the first state to approve construction of an off-shore wind farm. I've been an outspoken supporter of wind power and an advocate for smart solutions to our energy crisis. I was the first statewide elected official to get behind this idea. My position on this issue is politically risky, but the risk has already been worth it as more and more elected officials are jumping on board. Implementing this idea will require this same kind of determined political will.
Health insurance for all: I want to reform Delaware's health care coverage to give all residents access to health insurance. The problem of the uninsured goes well beyond those without insurance. There is a cost implication for those with insurance as well " the average Delaware family with health insurance pays an extra $725 a year to subsidize care for those without insurance. Thats a $90 million problem for our state. So I have laid out a detailed plan to solve the problem by creating health insurance opportunities for every Delawarean. My plan also shows how much it will cost ($111 million) and how we pay for it (mandates on employers and individuals). Weve got to get people detected and treated earlier by primary care doctors and not by more expensive options like emergency rooms. To ensure access to and continuity of health care coverage, I want to require insurers to guarantee coverage for individuals.
Making Delaware a strong entrepreneurial center: America needs a new engine of entrepreneurship. Delaware is already the corporate capital of the world, but I want to create a climate in which entrepreneurs can thrive, so major corporations are launched here, not just incorporated here. Similarly, by forging stronger ties between our institutions of higher education and our companies, we can help both the private and public sectors capitalize on an economy more and more likely to be powered by innovation. My economic development plan promises to create 25,000 new jobs in my first term, and it will.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
Delaware is hungry for change because we have been letting too many opportunities pass by and we are lagging behind in too many areas. There is a motivated electorate here, and it is essential to my strategy to forge a grassroots coalition that taps into the energy of Delawareans who want to make Delaware an even better place. I was scheduled to speak to a small group of students at the University of Delaware more than a year from the general election, and over 130 kids attended and signed up to volunteer. More than a year from the primary hundreds of Delawareans across the state came to my campaigns organizational volunteer meetings in the heat of the late summer to sign up for phone banks and to learn how to organize their neighborhoods. We started an online petition in favor of SB 141, a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in Delaware, and more than 900 people signed up. I have a message of change and we are going to organize around it, vote by vote by vote. My campaign budget invests heavily in field organizing. We are utilizing technology and the internet unlike any campaign in Delaware history. I have worked harder to build a grassroots organization in my previous elections than any other candidate, and I will continue to do so.