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Q&A with Sen. Dave Sokola

Dave Sokola, HS77, played soccer and studied physical education at UD. He worked as a gym teacher, steelworker and longtime lab technician for DuPont before finding his calling in politics. Over the past three decades, Sokola has represented Delaware’s 8th Senate District (which includes Newark), and in 2021, he was elected by his peers to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Here, the parttime beekeeper and indoor spin instructor discusses his full-time interest in Delaware legislation. 

As a novice beekeeper, do you find any parallels between your hobby and profession?

There’s a lot of teamwork in the political arena, and bees are the ultimate team. So many different things must be done in the hive to keep it strong and defend against diseases and predators.

What did playing soccer at UD teach you about teamwork?

A good team has good offense, good defense, good goaltending. You use the strengths of each individual where it benefits the team the most. And so, I never made decisions alone. I’ve always done it with the rest of leadership, including leadership across the aisle.

What was the bigger rush: winning record senior year or passing the Clean Water Act?

Success in sports is a real rush. The Clean Water Act is incredibly important [legislation], but we knew it was going to happen. Sometimes those close-vote bills are the bigger rush, like my bill to add sexual orientation to our nondiscrimination clause. It took six or seven general assemblies.

What got you interested in politics?

There was a high-profile race in my district, and I got to know both candidates. I ended up campaigning door-to-door and making phone calls for Vince Meconi, BSPA83. I guess you could say the bug bit. 

Members of the University and surrounding community gather on the North Central Green to remember and commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Marked by remarks from Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton, Delaware State Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola, Representative Paul Baumbach, Linda Irizarry, Lauren Simione, an invocation by Kim Zitzner and benediction by S Ismat Shah,  national anthem by Sophia DiLeo (Class of 2022), presentation of colors by the Newark Police Department and UDPD combined honor guard, and a flag folding ceremony with US Air Force cadets.

Do constituents ever attend your spin classes to air grievances?

If there was a high-profile issue like the marijuana bill, people would ask about it, but it’s not like they would pressure you. There was one exception: Medicare Advantage and whether or not the state should adopt the plan. People I’d never seen before came to my class specifically to voice their views. They’re welcome to, and I appreciate input from anyone.

What haven’t you done yet that keeps you up at night?

Having chaired education for 26 years, I’ve always felt Delaware needed a far more comprehensive system of funding to get children the services and opportunities they deserve. 

Always be ready for change. Kids born today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. Be ready and willing to adapt your skills and interests to what’s out there."


As a Blue Hen who represents the city of Newark, what are your thoughts on campus today?

I’m jealous of the soccer field! I toured the new athletics facilities, and they’re amazing. I could have really benefited from it, especially the academic support. The resources are better, the programs are newer, but there’s still the old charm. I’m glad to have UD in my district—it wasn’t always.

How did you meet your wife, Kathy [HS78]?

At Kent Dining Hall in the fall of 1975. She caught my eye and still does. We just hit our 45th wedding anniversary. 

What gives you hope for Delaware, and more broadly, the country?

To most Delawareans, facts matter. A lot of what we’re trying to do are things you need to be able to defend, and you do that with evidence.

What advice would you give the graduating class?

Always be ready for change. Kids born today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. Be ready and willing to adapt your skills and interests to what’s out there.

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