The catalyst for my campaign stemmed from a growing frustration with Pennsylvania’s political climate. After the year we just witnessed in Harrisburg, it is time to elect officials who have the courage to find common ground rather than dig deeper trenches. As Executive Director of The Trust Performing Arts Center, I have discovered the beauty and efficacy of collaborative leadership. By working together, artists and leaders of all walks of life have inspired a true cultural and economic revolution in Lancaster. We are a community of bold innovators and entrepreneurs, and we are a community that has demonstrated that collaborative leadership can accomplish great things. This experience in Lancaster has uniquely prepared me to be the kind of State Representative we need – one who will bring a new spirit of collaboration to our state capitol.
As one of the oldest states in the union, Pennsylvania is burdened with decades-old codes and regulations. We feel this most severely in the areas of education, liquor laws, public pensions, and property taxes. I have never been one to accept “that’s the way we’ve always done it” as an excuse for allowing bad policies to linger. The next generation of lawmakers will need to bring a spirit of innovation to Harrisburg in order to set Pennsylvania on a road to prosperity. As Thomas Edison once said, “There’s a better way to do it – find it.”
The rising cost of property taxes is one of the most common concerns for our district’s residents. This is especially concerning for our senior citizens and those on fixed incomes. Lancaster City’s taxes are particularly high because of state mandates that affect the way our municipalities and school districts conduct business. Only after these burdensome, outdated regulations have been changed can we begin the process of finding ways to reduce, cap, and perhaps even eliminate property taxes statewide. This will require legislators who are more committed to their communities than they are to special interest groups who benefit from the current structure. I will not give up on solving our property tax burden. No one should fear losing their home because of government ineptitude.
While many areas of Pennsylvania are still trying to recover from the loss of major industries, our region has enjoyed a steadily growing economy bolstered by a thriving small business culture. I will commit to policies that will help these businesses succeed so that they can continue to provide well-paying jobs for our citizens. I will also commit to supporting vocational training programs in our communities that will prepare workers for the next generation of careers.
I have been an educator for over two decades, teaching in middle school, high school, community college, and four-year college settings and am deeply concerned about the state of public education in Pennsylvania. As a representative, I will pursue and endorse policies that encourage partnerships between school districts, parents, and community members in educational decision-making. We must eliminate the reliance on standardized testing so that teachers are free to use assessment as a valuable pedagogical tool rather than a meaningless, bureaucratic hurdle. I will seek to return the career field of teaching to its rightful place of honor in our society and reverse the disheartening downward trend of college enrollment in education programs.
Nearly 30% of people in our community are living in poverty. While palliative measures are necessary, we must encourage policies that will provide a ramp out of the cycle of poverty. This will require not only reforming government assistance programs, but also our criminal justice system. As I’ve spoken with many of our poorer citizens this year, the conversations often turn to the “cliff effect,” referring to the sudden and extreme cut in government assistance that occurs when a worker’s income surpasses a certain threshold. I will pursue policies that help people overcome these obstacles and empower them to become self-sufficient. I will also endorse partnerships with local non-profit organizations that have made a significant impact on our community by providing much needed skills-based education, ESL classes, financial advice, and life-skills training.
Pennsylvania has always been rich in natural resources, but history shows that we aren’t always very discerning when it comes to extracting and utilizing those resources. Recent advances in drilling technology have given us unprecedented access to one of the richest natural gas deposits in the world. It is essential that the continued extraction and delivery of this valuable resource is done with profound respect for our environment and for the communities directly impacted by the related industries. We must take great care to protect our rivers and streams, our forests, and our farmland. I am committed to listening and responding to the concerns of our citizens as their lives and livelihoods are impacted by this industry.