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Dems choose candidate for Senate special election

District committee members chose Stephanie Hansen (right) as their candidate to keep control of the state Senate.

Democrats are counting on former New Castle County Council President Stephanie Hansen as they try to maintain their four decade hold on the state senate.

District committee members from the Middletown and Glasgow area voted Wednesday night to run the 55-year-old Hansen in the 10th Senate District special election. She was selected over five other candidates.

The election is needed to replace lieutenant governor-elect Bethany Hall-Long (D) when she leaves the seat next month.

A Seaford native, Hansen has lived in the district for about 15 years. She works as an environmental lawyer involved with redeveloping former industrial properties -- something she says could bolster Delaware’s economy.

“I think that we need to invest in programs that return to us more than we give to them and the brownfields program is a perfect example of how that works,” she said.

That could include revisiting Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act – a landmark law restricting development along the state’s waterways.

Republicans have said for years some provisions of that law should be rolled back, but Hansen didn’t offer specifics on how to change it.

She says she also wants to continue Hall-Long’s work on expanding access to addiction treatment programs.

“We need to change this from a criminal justice problem to a mental health problem so that we can addicts the mental health services – from doctors to treatment centers, more of a support system than they currently have – without a record, without arresting them.”

Hansen didn’t take a position on reinstating the state’s death penalty during an interview with Delaware Public Media – an issue that supporters are vowing to revisit next year.

She faces Republican John Marino, a former police officer and real estate agent. Marino narrowly lost Hall-Long two years ago by about 250 votes.

The state Senate is currently split 10-10 along party lines, with both parties gearing up for one of the most contentious races in years.

The special election is expected in early spring.

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