What motivated you to seek or continue in this office?
For the past 30 years, I have actively engaged with leaders and citizens throughout Delaware to make Wilmington a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Whether in the public eye as a (former) City Councilwoman helping create legislature, as a volunteer, or as a private citizen working to secure affordable health care for fellow residents, my goal has always been to make Wilmington a city that we can all be proud of. Today, the global pandemic has created an even harsher reality with many families facing economic, emotional, and medical hardship. At this critical junction, I just could not sit on the sidelines. I felt the urgent need and personal responsibility to seek re-election and dynamically engage in order to make Wilmington a city where its residents take pride in equality, public safety, education, job opportunities, entrepreneurship, the arts and entertainment, and cultural diversity.
My motivation is working together with people to make Wilmington the city that we all deserve!
What are your qualifications for office, and what differentiates you from the other candidate(s)?
As the first Hispanic woman ever elected to the Wilmington City Council in 2012, I am already experienced and aware of the many challenges that the city is facing and understand its constraints. I currently lead the subdivision executive committee of the Democratic party as its 4th Vice Chair working with state elected officials to keep Wilmington’s needs at the forefront of the political agenda. As a healthcare administrator, I specialize in providing affordable healthcare and insurance solutions to the elderly, the most vulnerable group during the pandemic. Previously, I operated a small restaurant, worked in the Office of Cultural Affairs under Mayor Jim Sills, and was as the director of education and community relations for the Grand Opera House. So, I have done it all… yet my biggest passion is working together with people of all backgrounds, and political affiliations, to improve life in Wilmington. It takes leadership to drive change—proven and trusted leadership!
What are the most urgent issues facing the City of Wilmington, and how will you address them?
The most urgent issues and my top priorities are Equality, Public Safety, and Economic Development. Equality should be the cornerstone of our society, the primary virtue that should define our city, its values, and its operational execution. I will use my office to advocate for action to promote and enforce practices that ensure equal treatment, equal justice, and equal opportunities for ALL citizens of Wilmington. My efforts will focus on working with state and local leaders to address the public safety and gun violence among our youth. I support increasing after school programs, providing mental health counseling, support, and adequate resources to our youth. My Economic Development plan will focus on creating incentives to attract new employers, investing in innovation and startups, supporting local businesses, expanding workforce training, and improving wages and benefits. All three priorities feed and reinforce each other.
How do you believe that racial inequity can be reduced/eliminated in Delaware?
Equality should be the foundation of our society and the city of Wilmington. I will focus on specific reforms that will strengthen the relationship, collaboration, and trust between police and residents by improving accountability, establishing police training programs, instituting community led public safety initiatives, and promoting successful re-entry through education and job training. But equality does not stop there. We need to bring forward legislation that gives ALL residents of Wilmington equal access to opportunities. That includes equal employment opportunities by enforcing equal hiring practices in both the public and private sectors; equal opportunities to healthcare by providing affordable options and healthcare solutions to all residents; and equal access to education by strengthening our public school infrastructure. In other words, we need to establish equality at the root of the problem, not just develop corrective measures.
What steps can be taken for Wilmington City Council to work more efficiently and cohesively in the future?
The Wilmington City Council should put aside any personal differences and work together with our residents, independent of political affiliation, to establish viable solutions to our many problems. Resources are limited and should be spent effectively. So the key word here is “efficiency.” I will advocate for audits to ensure 0% percent waste throughout the various city departments. Furthermore, I will push for a creation of a city database of critical skills to guarantee that city employees utilize their full potential, while also serving key city priorities and goals. As a former city councilmember, I am already experienced and aware of the weaknesses and deficiencies facing Wilmington. Furthermore, we need to collaborate with Delaware government agencies and lawmakers, colleges, and universities across the state to find efficient solutions. It should be a team effort that Wilmington should lead, but we can’t do it alone.
Wilmington City Council’s actions affect the welfare of city residents. How will you keep the lines of communication open with your constituents?
There is an old saying, “Before you speak, listen!” As City Council representatives, we should always remind ourselves that we are there to serve the people of Wilmington: understand their concerns, comprehend their problems in depth, proactively inquire about their personal and professional worries, and then work arduously to resolve their pressing needs. One key characteristic that differentiates me from other candidates is that I have always remained very involved, engaged, and visible in the Wilmington community. Whether serving in office and the Democratic party, or overseeing community relations at the Grand Opera House, or organizing festivals, music concerts and art exhibitions, I have always had a good feel for the pulse of the city and its problems. While the current pandemic has restricted physical contact, I plan to keep the lines of communication constantly open using video conferencing technology (e.g., Zoom, Skype), social media, and frequent online constituent forums.