Maria was asked to answer questions for two prominent voter’s guides, The League of Women Voters 411Vote & The News Journal Voter’s Guide. Get to know where Maria stands on the most pressing issues facing Wilmington.
News Journal Voter’s Guide:
What are your top two priorities if elected?
My top two priorities are Public Safety and Economic Development. The cornerstone of public safety should be equality, the primary virtue that should define our city and its operational execution. I will use my office to advocate for action to ensure equal treatment, equal justice, and equal opportunities for ALL citizens of Wilmington. My focus will be collaborating and working on initiatives to decrease gun violence and restoring confidence in law enforcement. I support increasing after school programs, providing mental health counseling and adequate resources to our youth. Furthermore, continuing to work on Neighborhood Stabilization initiatives that will address the vacant and dilapidated properties in Wilmington, increase home ownership, and reduce disorderly and nuisance behaviors which plague many of our neighborhoods. The second tenet of my strategic plan is economic development initiatives that will cultivate and safeguard a prosperous community. I will promote policies to attract new employers and startups, support local and minority businesses, and promote workforce training.
What policies would you promote to improve residents’ trust of the police department and reduce violent crime?
It is imperative for the City of Wilmington to continue to engage in a methodical analysis of violent crime data in order to identify priority areas. I continue to support the use of technology and data analytics to identify the neighborhoods where we have the highest number of incidents, also taking into consideration the severity of those incidents. Specific reforms will focus on strengthening the relationship, collaboration, and trust between police and residents by improving accountability, establishing police training programs, increasing minority hiring within the police department, instituting community led public safety initiatives and mini community substations, and promoting successful re-entry through education and job training. Furthermore, we need to bring forward legislation that gives ALL residents of Wilmington equal access to employment, healthcare, and education. In other words, we need to address the root of the problem, not just develop corrective measures to public safety. This must include strong partnerships with all levels of Government, and Community Organizations.
What policies would you promote for city residents of all incomes to live in safe, quality, and affordable housing?
As a Board of Directors member of the Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware, Inc. (ICHDE), and former Chair of Real Estate & Housing and License & Inspections Committee on City Council, one of my primary missions has been the revitalization and stabilization of our neighborhoods and empowering families by creating first-time homeownership opportunities. Towards that effort, I will promote city policies that increase homeowner services such as default counseling, financial education, re-entry programs, credit management, and credit repair. Furthermore, I will promote partnerships with both the public sector (e.g., Delaware State Housing Authority) and private financial institutions to increase affordable housing opportunities while advocating for rent control policies that prohibit tenant exploitations. Additionally, I will use my office to advocate for action from the Department of Licenses and Inspections, and propose initiatives and legislation (if needed) that strengthens vacant and nuisance property laws, a successful endeavor that I had started during my previous term as City of Wilmington Councilwoman.
What role would you have city government take in Wilmington’s economic AND health recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?
The global pandemic has created an even harsher reality with many families facing economic, emotional, and medical hardship. As a health insurance agent, I specialize in providing affordable healthcare and insurance solutions to the uninsured, diverse communities, businesses and the elderly, the most vulnerable group during the pandemic. To speed up the recovery, city government needs to be proactive and forceful in connecting residents to available resources, which include but not limited to affordable healthcare, and plan ahead for efficient deployment of virus testing, medical treatment, and vaccine availability (when available). On the economic front, we need to move quickly at the local, state, and federal level to provide economic relief to the small business and workers who are out of jobs. My economic recovery 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.
What policies would you promote for economic development citywide?
Economic development should focus on creating incentives in collaboration with the State of Delaware to encourage companies that incorporate in Delaware to create physical presence in Wilmington. I will promote policies that create incentives for: a) existing corporations, b) IT startups in critical technology fields, c) Wilmington residents to start their own small-and-medium businesses d) minority and women owned businesses, and e) encourage youth entrepreneurship. The City of Wilmington has a huge advantage in the large number of companies incorporating in Delaware. Policies should be specifically aimed at companies focusing on technology and services that can be directly deployed in the city (e.g., healthcare, crime prevention and analytics software) and key growth industries (e.g., bioinformatics, medical supplies and technology) to attract and maintain companies in collaboration with Delaware government agencies, colleges, and universities across the state. It should be a team effort that the City of Wilmington will lead, but we cannot do it alone!