VIDEO - Both vying for Carper's seat; discuss gun reform, immigration, other topics

Two candidates vying for Sen. Tom Carper’s seat this November spoke out on issues concerning the public at a special debate in Hockessin on Monday night.

Meant to shake things out between party opponents ahead of September’s Primary, Carper and Republican candidate Rob Arlett were not present at the Greater Hockessin Area Development Association-sponsored forum.

Originally planned as a pre-primary debate between candidates on the same ticket, the evening instead came down to Republican Gene Truono and Democrat Kerri Harris sounding off on questions submitted by the public.

Carper was delayed due to a rescheduled Senate session following the death of former Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt, while Arlett had a scheduling conflict, according to GHADA president Mark Blake.

A native Delawarean with 30 years of experience in financial services, Truono said that his experience has showed him that “big government” programs do not solve problems.

“The local communities, through non-profits and faith-based organizations, deliver those services much better than the federal government,” Truono said.

Truono noted he was not a “career politician,” adding, “We’ve seen enough of that in Washington.”

Running on a platform pf “Principles, not Promises,” Truono noted that his two core principles are the Constitution and states’ rights.

“I believe we should use and look at every policy decision with that lens,” he said.

Originally from Westchester, NY, Harris moved to Delaware when she was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in 2001 and has made it her home since.

Harris said she also is not a “career politician,” but has acted in service to her country and community her whole life.

“I am a veteran, a parent and a community advocate,” Harris said, adding, “As a community advocate I know that all of our struggles are united.”

Both shared similar views on issues such as legal marijuana and combating the opioid crisis, while differing on concerns of immigration and gun control.

While Harris said she supports the Second Amendment, noting, “I don’t want to take your guns,” she spoke in favor of halting sale of accessories like silencers and extended clips until legislation regarding their use could be addressed.

“I do want to make sure we’re safe,” she said, later adding that the gun issue is similar in nature to the opioid crisis.

“If you had somebody that was suffering from addiction, would you put drugs and alcohol in front of them? No. You would stage an intervention,” Harris said. “We need to stage an intervention right now with gun safety.”

Truono called the gun violence issues facing the country a “mental health” issue, among others, as opposed to one concerning regulation.

“You can ban every weapon in this county, and other countries have – it does not solve the problem,” he said.

He also said that public institutions should determine how to best keep people in their communities safe.

Regarding work on a comprehensive immigration bill upon being elected, Truono said he supports the current administration’s approach to immigration, noting the proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act of 2017 as an example of such a bill.

“[It] solves a lot of the problems of illegal immigration,” Truono said.

He also said that the proposed border wall would affect crimes like child and drug trafficking.

“Illegal Fentanyl is coming across our borders, and that’s what people are dying from,” he said. “The wall and border security are not some hateful idea … we have ports of entry for people seeking asylum in this country, and they need to follow them.”

Noting that her great-grandfather was an immigrant from Sweden, Harris said had he been told he was unable to move to America she wouldn’t have the opportunity she has to run for senate.

“There are different skills, and we need all of them,” Harris said. “And merit is just not for the top of every country coming in.”

PRIMARY SEPT. 6

Three Republican candidates, including one from California, and two Democrat candidates will face off in the Thursday, Sept. 6 Primary.

There will also are two additional candidates running in the General Election in November, one each from the Libertarian and Green parties.

Candidates include: Republicans Truono, Arlett, and Roque De La Fuente (filed from California); and Democrats Harris and incumbent Carper.

Libertarian candidate Nadine Frost, and Green Party candidate Demitri Theodoropoulos are running unopposed in the Primary.

The winner of each Primary election on Sept. 9 will face off for the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.