Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, discussed his successes as Governor and the challenges his successor John Carney, D-Delaware, faces, during his final press conference Wednesday.
“We’ve had some high points and some low points in the last eight years, but I’m really proud of the work so many great people in our administration have done,” he said.
Markell said he’s proud of the investment in downtown areas in the state, job growth, and improvements to education and career readiness, air quality, criminal justice reform and addiction treatment.
“This is why I ran for office in the first place,” he said. “I wanted to create more opportunities for people in the state. I wanted Delaware to be in a better position for prosperity in the future going forward than we would have been otherwise and I think that’s where we are and the numbers don’t lie.”
Markell said some of his goals remain unmet, however.
“I think the condition of our water, I said at the time and continue to believe, is embarrassing, and we have so many streams and creeks and others where the water is not of high quality,” he said.
“We know how to fix this, and I put a lot of effort into getting the money so we could fix it. I regret not being able to not get that done. I put money in budget last year to increase teachers’ salaries. We didn’t get that done.”
Markell said the economy has improved drastically since he first took his oath of office, when he faced a skyrocketing unemployment rate and a decrease in revenues.
“There was only one thing that kept me up at night, and that was the conversation I had with adults who lost their jobs and had to go home and tell their families about their job loss,” he said. “If there’s one family that’s struggling that’s one too many, so clearly our work isn’t done.”
The next administration must agree on a solution to a potential $150 million deficit. Markell said this will be one of the biggest challenges Carney faces. He said some of the issues include the cost of employee health plans and the senior property tax credits—for which he offered solutions in the past.
“I’m confident we have ability to come together and solve the issue and others in our state,” Markell said.
He also said the issue of school redistricting will be readdressed during the next administration.
The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s (WEIC) redistricting plan would remove Christina School District from Wilmington and hand over its students to the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The plan was drafted by a 23-member commission appointed by Markell as a solution to improve low-performing, low-income schools in Wilmington.
“Sometimes you get so caught up in the back and forth, you have a better chance achieving progress if you can at least agree on what the problem is,” Markell said. “So long as we agree on the problem, which is our kids in some of these low-income communities have additional struggles and need additional support to maximize the chance of their success, we will get to a good place. “
Markell said he doesn’t foresee running for political office in the future.
“I’m not going to predict the future,” he said.