Matt Chappell announced today that he is a Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Senate in District 11, which encompasses Portsmouth and parts of Bristol.

Senator James Seveney who currently represents District 11 announces his retirement last month.

A fourth-generation Portsmouth resident, a press release from his campaign says that Matt practices law at his family’s law firm, Chappell & Chappell, and serves as a prosecutor for the towns of Tiverton and Portsmouth.

“I’m running for State Senate to bring the East Bay experience and the voice of our community to the State House,” said Chappell in a statement. “In recent years, Senator Seveney has been a sincere and effective voice on the issues that matter most to East Bay residents. As Senator Seveney did during his tenure, I hope to provide accessible representation, strong government oversight, and be a leading voice advocating for all members of this community.”

Matt is a 2009 graduate of Portsmouth High School, where he played hockey, golf and football. He went on to attend Plymouth State University and Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol. As a third-generation attorney, Matt is an active member of the Rhode Island Bar and Newport County Bar Associations. 

“Service to community is something that my family holds dear, and its importance was instilled in my three sisters and I from a young age,” said Chappell, whose three sisters Kateri, Kelsi, and Molly all live and raise their families in Portsmouth. “My grandfather, father and uncle have dedicated their professional careers to providing Portsmouth and East Bay residents with strong legal representation. They inspired me to choose a similar path after graduating from law school. From zoning matters to business issues and prosecuting criminal cases, I believe my legal experience to seek out and provide pragmatic solutions to the issues that face out community will serve me well if elected to the state Senate.”

As a prosecutor, Matt says that he has handled hundreds of criminal matters and developed a unique perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s criminal justice system. Matt hopes to build on the Justice Reinvestment initiatives enacted by the General Assembly to ensure those impacted by mental health disorders receive the aid and treatment needed. 

“I see the real-world implications of Rhode Island’s penal code every day in the courtroom,” said Chappell. “Sadly, many of the individuals that I interact with are not there because they chose a life of crime, but rather because of underlying mental health issues. We can and must do a better job of identifying and treating these behaviors as a society.”

If elected, Matt says that he would also work to introduce legislation to preempt any US Supreme Court ruling designed to undermine the rights of protected classes. In 2019, the General Assembly codified Roe v. Wade into state law, which will prove pivotal if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark ruling. 

“Women and the LGBTQ+ community are under attack all across this country,” said Chappell. “With all the advances we have made for women and the LGBTQ+ community in Rhode Island, we must be vigilant to make sure we defend and build upon this progress. I will always stand with women and with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Matt says that he loves living in the Portsmouth and plans to raise his own family here. He says that he has personally experienced the challenge of finding an affordable home in the East Bay and has seen first-hand the challenges and shortcomings surrounding education, affordable housing, and aging in place.

“We need to prioritize legislation that affords all generations the opportunity to buy an affordable home and find decent jobs,” said Chappell. “Too many of my friends from town could not find a good job or an affordable place to live, so they were forced to move elsewhere. Additionally, our senior citizens need more help to age in place and live their lives in their homes. Increasing our housing stock would help keep families together and make it easier to live, work and raise a family in the East Bay.” 

Chappell says that he will spend the next several months knocking on doors and talking with the voters of Bristol and Portsmouth about the issues that matter to them. Matt’s entrance into the race means that there will be a Democratic Primary on September 13th.

Portsmouth Town Council Vice President Linda Ujifusa has also announced her candidacy for the Senate District 11 (Portsmouth, Bristol).

Ujifusa has served three terms on the Portsmouth Town Council and says her focus as a Senator will be on environmental protection, affordable healthcare and housing, innovative solutions to Rhode Island’s economic challenges, and greater government transparency.

A graduate of Harvard and the NYU School of Law, Ujifusa was a lawyer in the private sector and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.