Attorney, former New Castle County president to run for State Senate

 Stephanie Hansen (left) reacts to results with State Rep. Valerie Longhurst in Odessa Saturday night. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Stephanie Hansen (left) reacts to results with State Rep. Valerie Longhurst in Odessa Saturday night. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Attorney and former New Castle County Council President Stephanie Hansen will run for State Senator in the 10th district during a special election, Delaware’s Democratic Party announced Thursday.

Democrat Hansen will run against Republican John Marino for the soon-to-be vacant seat currently held by Lt. Gov.-elect Bethany Hall-Long, D-Delaware.

The party’s New Castle County Chair Betsy Maron and committee members unanimously made the nomination after consideration of six candidates for the position.

“I’m very honored,” Hansen said. “I have a lot of respect for (the other candidates), we have all come together since then and I’ve talked with everyone. It’s a humbling experience to go through knowing so many people have put their trust and faith in me that I’m going to be able to get the job done. Now I need to take a look at all the people in the boat with me and say, ‘Okay guys, let’s start rowing.’”

Marino, her Republican opponent, is a realtor and retired police officer. He ran against Hall-Long in 2014, losing by only 267 votes. Marino also lost a bid for State Representative in 2010 with almost 49 percent of the vote.

Hansen is an environmental attorney for Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor in Wilmington. She previously was the founder and president of the Bear Glasgow Council of Civic Organizations. Hansen was President of New Castle County Council between 1997 and 2001.

“I’ve been involved in politics for quite some time, mostly behind the scenes for quite a few years,” the Seaford native and mother of three said. “But with the issues that are so important to the people of the 10th district you need someone who can speak for the working families down in Dover as an advocate.”

Hansen, a brownfields redevelopment attorney, said the number one issue is job creation and environmentally responsible redevelopment. She said the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property will increase jobs and improve the economy.

“We need to do a better job about bringing in good corporate citizens that are environmentally responsible and clean up the land when they get here,” Hansen said.

“To continue to invest in programs like that then return to us so much value that’s the way to bring jobs into Delaware, and to take a look at the regulations we have that are maybe constricting our ability to entice jobs into Delaware, and we need jobs that pay a livable wage not just a minimum wage.”

If elected, Hansen said she would work on legislation to address drug addiction and mental health in the state. She said she believes the issue currently is not receiving the attention it needs.

“This is not a criminal justice problem, as we’ve been trying to treat it, it’s a mental health issue,” Hansen said.

“So we need to find ways to get the services and treatment to the addicts rather than arresting them and throwing them in jail. It’s not stopping the problem, it’s making it worse, because we have folks coming out of the criminal just system with a record, so they have difficulty getting housing, difficulty getting a job, there still not being treated—they need to be diverted into mental health system rather than the criminal justice system.”

She also said would shift the focus on how public education is funded.

“Right now we don’t have a way to make sure needs based funding is given to those schools to deal with those problems,” Hansen said. “As a result you have students at those schools who fall further and further behind which in effect causes that school and district to fall further and further behind.”

Maron of the Democratic Party said she believes Hansen is ready to take on the responsibilities of public office.

“While I am sure every one of our potential nominees would have made great candidates, I am confident that the committee has selected the best person for the job,” she said in a statement.

“The committee was impressed with Ms. Hansen’s breadth of governmental experience and background. Democrats across the state can now focus squarely on protecting our majority in the State Senate. We cannot allow Republicans to bring their discriminatory and anti-worker agenda to Delaware’s General Assembly.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.