Snyder-Hall vows to knock on every door in Sixth District

January 14, 2014

Back in October, at Gov. Jack Markell’s town meeting held at Cape Henlopen High School, I heard Claire Snyder-Hall tell someone she was already out knocking on doors.

Wow, I thought, it’s only 2013 and the 2014 campaign has already begun.

Not a bad idea, though, considering her opponent. Snyder-Hall, a Democrat, is running against Republican Ernie Lopez, who won in 2012. Many people may not even be aware that Lopez is up for re-election so soon. The 2012 election for the newly created district was for a two-year term; this year’s election will be for a full four-year term.

Lopez won handily against a strong opponent, Andy Staton, a well-known Rehoboth realtor who had easily defeated two primary challengers.

Since then, Lopez has made himself among the most visible local politicians, often showing up at community events.

“I don’t think it’s early,” said Snyder-Hall, a 48-year-old former assistant professor of government at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “If I’m going to knock on every door, I need to get started.” She said she’s already knocked on 700 doors in Rehoboth and Lewes. (The district also extends to Dewey Beach and Milton.)

The responses, she said, have varied by location. In Rehoboth, people were upset about Lopez’s vote against the Marriage Equality Bill, which was later passed by both houses and signed by the governor.

Since the bill is already law, the issue is settled. But, she said, many people who voted for Lopez in 2012 were disappointed by his vote. She thinks they’ll remember this year when they step into the voting booth.

“You don’t expect your representative to stand against the course of history.”

In Lewes, she said, people “were concerned about uncoordinated development, drainage issues, traffic.”

Development, especially, came up often. “None of these people are anti-development,” she said, “and I’m certainly not.”

But people, many of whom have their life savings in their houses, are worried about what uncoordinated development will do to their property values.

They’re concerned about the lack of infrastructure to handle the growing population, she said, and they’re “concerned about being able to pull out onto the road.”

Snyder-Hall’s own platform includes health care, jobs and education.

Seniors, especially, suffer from the Cape Region’s shortage of doctors.

Her concern has been influenced by her own experience caring for her aging parents, including her father, who had Alzheimer’s.

One factor making it difficult to attract doctors, she said, is that it takes longer to get a medical license approved in Delaware than it does in other states.

“If you can practice in Pennsylvania,” she said, “I’m not sure why you can’t practice here.” She said that would be an easy thing to change.

Attracting doctors is also a jobs issue.

For each doctor who starts a practice, she said, six jobs are created.

As for education, Snyder-Hall said, teachers should receive the resources they need to do their job. She also sees the need to expand vocational education.

Regarding an issue that will be coming before the General Assembly, Snyder-Hall said she supports raising the minimum wage.

“It’s a question of basic fairness,” she said. If you’re working full-time, you shouldn’t have to go on food stamps. She said she was surprised to hear from some restaurant owners that they supported the increase.

This is Snyder-Hall’s first run for office, but she’s hardly new to politics.

She said her interest blossomed in college, and she later earned a Ph.D. in politics from Rutgers University. She worked on Marie Mayor’s and Mitch Crane’s 2012 campaigns and currently serves as party chair for the 14th Representative District.

Snyder-Hall, who works out of her Rehoboth home as a researcher for the Kettering Foundation, said she and her spouse, Mikki Snyder-Hall, have had a second home here since 2003.

They loved the area’s sense of community, which they found lacking in their hometown of Silver Spring, Md., and moved here fulltime in 2010.

“It was the best thing we ever did,” she said.

In 2012, Lopez won by appealing not only to Republicans, but also to independents and Democrats. Snyder-Hall’s chances depend on whether she can crack that coalition. She said she’s received donations not only from Democrats, but from Republicans and Libertarians.

According to Snyder-Hall, “moderate” Republicans normally define themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Lopez, she said, with his vote against the Marriage Equality Bill and his anti-choice stance, leans more conservative. “I don’t view him as a moderate.” And to Snyder-Hall, that means she can better represent the Sixth District.

  • Accomplished writers appear in the Politics column every Tuesday on a rotating basis to explore the dynamic world of politics at the local, county, state, national and world levels.

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