Newark officer to challenge McDowell in state Senate
Newark police officer James Spadola has filed paperwork to challenge longtime state Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North.
Spadola, a Wilmington resident, will run as a Republican challenging McDowell, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1976 and has since held the positions of majority whip and majority leader. McDowell currently is co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, which writes the state budget.
The election is in November.
Spadola, 32, said he is running because he feels he and his neighbors are ignored by the current leaders who have grown comfortable in their positions over the years. He said he doesn’t think that running as a Republican will be a detriment in Wilmington, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than five to one.
“I am fiscally conservative but socially I’m liberal,” he said. “I have already had a great response from a lot of lifelong Democrats.”
“I think state and local politics isn’t about finding someone you agree 100 percent with,” said Spadola. “You just have to be responsive to their concerns and be engaged with the community, out at events and helping them sort through the government bureaucracy.”
McDowell declined to comment about his challenger, except to say “good luck.”
Spadola gained attention earlier this year when he came up with the idea to go to Newark’s Main Street and hold up a sign offering free hugs. The video of Spadola and another officer gained national attention after it was shared with #HugACop thousands of times. The video currently has more than 151,000 shares on Facebook and has been viewed more than 7 million times.
If elected, Spadola said he will focus on constituent services, crime and economic development.
“Our citizens deserve first-class representation in Dover,” said Spadola. “From fighting persistent crime in Wilmington to getting jobs back along the Philadelphia Pike corridor, I hope to bring some fresh thinking to Legislative Hall and help tackle the consistent age old issues our state and District 1 face.”
Spadola has lived in Wilmington since 2008, the same year he was hired to the Newark Police Department. He is a corporal and the department’s crime prevention and analysis officer. Although he lives in Wilmington, Spadola said he didn’t consider working for the city police department.
“I went to (the University of Delaware) and there was just something about being a cop in a college town that really appealed to me,” said Spadola.
Spadola, a New Jersey native, is an Iraq War veteran who enlisted in the Army Reserve two months after 9/11. At the time, Spadola was a freshman at the University of Delaware and paused his studies to attend basic training. Two weeks into his sophomore year, his unit was mobilized and in March 2003 he was deployed to Kuwait and then Iraq. During his year-long tour Spadola’s convoy was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device while in action in Baghdad and he received the Combat Action Badge.
He graduated from UD in 2007 and is secretary and treasurer of the Delaware Avenue Community Association. He also plays guitar in the acoustic band James and Matt.
“It is great to see someone with such a strong background as James get further into public service,” said state Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, the Senate minority whip, in a statement. “His varied and successful background will bring a breath of fresh air to addressing and solving many of the challenges facing our state.”
Source: The News Journal