UD’s Chap­man eyes state se­nate seat

Newark Post - - Local News - By KARIE SIMMONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

Mered­ith Chap­man, di­rec­tor for dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Univer­sity of Delaware, will be chal­leng­ing long­time in­cum­bent David Sokola for his state se­nate seat this Novem­ber.

The 31-year-old, who lives in Fair­field Crest with her hus­band, City Coun­cil­man Luke Chap­man, an­nounced her can­di­dacy Wed­nes­day. She is hop­ing to rep­re­sent res­i­dents liv­ing in Dis­trict 8, which en­com­passes most of the city of Newark as well as parts of Pike Creek and Hockessin.

Chap­man is run­ning as a Repub­li­can and said shortly af­ter her an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day that the de­ci­sion to chal­lenge Sokola, who has been in of­fice since 1991, didn’t come lightly.

“It re­ally has been years of di­a­logue and con­sid­er­a­tion,” she said, adding that she has heard from sev­eral res­i­dents that there is a de­sire for change. “We re­ally need some­one to step up and ad­vo­cate for the is­sues that my neigh­bors say mat­ter.”

Chap­man said she knows Dis­trict 8 well – she grew up in Beech Hill near North Star and at­tended Pike Creek Chris­tian School. She earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and masters in ed­u­ca­tion at UD, where she was a cheer­leader, and also coached cheer­lead­ing at Newark High School.

She be­gan her ca­reer in tele­vi­sion as a reporter and pro­ducer at WHYY-TV and then served as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion man­ager for then-con­gress­man Mike Cas­tle.

Chap­man has been em­ployed at UD since 2010, when she was hired as a se­nior news ed­i­tor in the school’s me­dia re­la­tions de­part­ment. She cur­rently serves as di­rec­tor for dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and also teaches classes on so­cial me­dia and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the univer­sity. Out­side of UD, she sits on the board of the Newark Se­nior Cen­ter and the mar­ket­ing com­mit­tee for the Delaware Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion.

If elected, Chap­man plans to stay in her po­si­tion at the univer­sity and said she will re­cuse her­self from vot­ing if there are any con­flicts of in­ter­est.

“That’s cer­tainly not a unique sit­u­a­tion for some­one to find them­selves in,” she said. “It is Delaware.”

Chap­man hopes to har­ness the power of so­cial me­dia through­out her cam­paign, which she said will fo­cus on three key ar­eas that im­pact the state’s eco­nomic sta­bil­ity: in­no­va­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and fi­nance.

“Ref­er­en­dums are sim­ply a band-aid to the ed­u­ca­tion prob­lem in Delaware,” Chap­man said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing her cam­paign on Wed­nes­day. “We are among the top states for ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing, yet in the bot­tom third for per­for­mance. It’s time to eval­u­ate how we spend tax­payer money and the ef­fec­tive­ness of how our chil­dren are be­ing pre­pared for the fu­ture.”

She also she wants to find in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to job cre­ation and work on de­vel­op­ing new fund­ing mech­a­nisms to get the state’s bud­get un­der con­trol, so Delaware can stop “liv­ing pay­check-to-pay­check.”

Chap­man ac­knowl­edged that knock­ing out a long­time in­cum­bent like Sokola can be hard. Still, she urged vot­ers to ask them­selves if they are truly happy with the way things are and the ed­u­ca­tion their chil­dren are get­ting.

“Some­times you just need some­one to step up, and this is me step­ping up,” she said.

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